The Best Workout to Do on Your Period

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Workout Period

Workout Period

Workout Period

That time of the month (your period)  is often associated with chocolate cravings, heating pads, and unexplained tears while watching The Bachelor—just feeling “off.” However, your period is also the best time to workout! Doing workout period is good.

When it comes to working out on your period, often times, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising—especially if you experience PMS or feel bloated. 

Even if you do hit the gym, many women report feeling “different.” Not on their A-game. 

The reason? 

The optimal time to train, or get in your best workouts (for menstruating women), appears to be the first 2-weeks of their cycle; Also known as: The Luteal Phase—right after “red tide” has passed.


A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness (Wikström-Frisén et al, 2017) found that women who trained during the first two weeks of their cycle—compared to the last two weeks—with a “significant increase in their squat strength, jump capacity, hamstring tone and body fat loss. 

Although this study measured strength training specifically, it can be safe to say that the findings transfer across the board. Whether you’re training for a half-marathon, dancing the night away in Zumba, or spinning your heart out, women tend to have more “umph” during the first two weeks of their cycle.


Your hormones are working for you. 

Throughout your 28-day cycle, your hormones experience some dramatic shifts.

During your first two weeks (days 1 to 14) in particular, estrogen levels increase your performance and fitness begin a slow and steady rise, naturally boosting your mood, libido, and energy, as well as your personal optimism, confidence and motivation.                                                                                                                              

You are strong. You are empowered. And You are woman. 

Workout Period

Your body takes to building and toning more lean muscle faster, burning body fat and getting stronger [especially when you do resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, body weight strengthening or use other resistance tools (bands, plates, etc.)]. 

Come week two, you are also more coordinated and have faster reaction times, as well as tend to crave healthier foods as increased estrogen slightly blunts intense cravings and supports your motivation to eat nourishing foods. And a special bonus: Higher estrogen triggers a greater output of pain-suppressing endorphins in your brain, making uncomfortable activities less painful—such as 100 burpees in bootcamp or setting a new 1-rep max back squat in the gym. Additionally, you are less prone to experience IBS and gut discomfort during the first two weeks of your cycle and feel more “balanced” over all. 

What this means for you? Can you do workout period?

When it comes to working out on your period, often times, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising—especially if you experience PMS or feel bloated.

The first two weeks following your period are the ideal time to “see results” and get a good workout…naturally.                                                                                                                                                                                  



 Many women wonder if training during their menstruation cycle, or otherwise training intensely at all affects their cycle—particularly women who have, at one time, lost their period or experience amenorrhea in their past.

It’s OK to train during your period, throughout your cycle—given you are listening to your body (and not at war with it, or overtraining).

“So…how does exercise impact my period?”

The bigger question is….how does your period, and baseline health, effect your exercise? 

Generally, if you’re getting good sleep, eating nutrient-dense foods, exercising regularly (particularly strength training) and destressing, then the typical “PMS” symptoms of irritability, constipation, IBS, bloating, intense emotion, cramps, etc. will not “get to you” quite as much as the gal who is under-eating, over-stressed, overtraining (or under-training), or burning a candle at both ends of the day.

The good news?

Within a balanced approach to training (i.e. not overtraining, and allowing for optimal rest), exercise does not seem to in and of itself be a bad thing.                                                                                    

Another study by the same authors (Wikström-Frisén et al, 2017), found no significant difference or affect from healthy exercise influencing the woman’s ability to menstruation. Researchers compared the effect of an intense leg training program on women and their periods during the first two weeks of training, the last two weeks of training, or over the course of their entire cycle whether or not they had their period (amenorrhea), and concluded the periodization of exercise (varying levels of intensity throughout the cycle) can be beneficial for women. 

When it comes to workout period, often times, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising—especially if you experience PMS or feel bloated.

So, when does exercise intensity matter? I thought running made some girls LOSE their periods! 

Yup you’re right. 

Exercise matter when we “over do” it. 

“Overdoing it” looks different for every individual and is also greatly influenced by our own recovery efforts (rest between workouts, hydration, nutrition status, stress outside the gym and our motivations for exercise in the first place). Women who do overdo it are more susceptible  to losing their period.  

HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR TRAINING & FITNESS                                                                        

Whether you’re an “athlete” training for a triathlon, trail race, intramural sports league or Cross Fit competition, or you’re an every day “gym rat” or Barre queen, maximize your training by varying up your intensity and focus during your cycle.

The optimal time to focus on getting in some “quality” miles, pushing the weights a little bit heavier, or breaking a sweat seems to be the first two weeks of your cycle (days 1-14).                                                                                                                                              

Come weeks 3 and 4, as estrogen and progesterone levels plunge, often triggering PMS, cravings, irritability and lower motivation, you don’t have to stop moving (in fact, regular healthy exercise reduces hormone-triggered water retention by helping you sweat out excess fluid, and continues to support blood sugar and cortisol balance)…but bring it down a notch. 

Days 15-28 may not be the optimal time to go “all out”during your CrossFit WOD, set a new record or be hard on yourself if it seems like your motivation or energy just “isn’t there.”

Instead, use Weeks 3 and 4 to also incorporate more walking, yoga and flexibility, consistent strength maintenance and above all…listen to your body throughout.                                                                    

Sample Workout Period During Days 1-15

Workout Period

Aim for 3 to 5 days per week of resistance training with a workout period like this:

  • Superset 1

Backsquat 5 x 5 (building a little bit heavier each set)


Military Press 5 x 6-8 (standing or seated)

Superset 2

Deadlift 4 x 5-6


Bench Press 4 x 5-6                                          

  • Superset 3

Barbell Walking Lunges 4 x 8-10 each leg


Bent Over Row 4 x 6-8

  • Energy Booster (at end)

12-Minute AMRAP

15 Wallballs

10 Deadlifts

5 Burpees

Sample Workout During Days 15-28


Resistance training does not have to cease, but take a step back to listen to your body and not overexert yourself. 

  • Superset 1

Backsquat 5 x 8-10


Dumbbell Press 5 x 8-10 (standing or seated)

Rest 1 minute between sets

  • Superset 2

Romanian Dumbbell Deadlift 4 x 12


Dumbbell Incline Press 4 x 10-12                                              

Workout Period

  • Superset 3

Dumbbell Walking Lunges 4 x 10 each leg


Single Arm Bent Over Row 4 x 6-8

  • Energy Booster (at end)

20-Minutes Mobility Work


Easy 500-1000 meter row

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