runYou’ll often hear me extolling this one particular hormonal benefit that occurs throughout your Week 3 and during most of your Week 4 (the second half of your cycle):

On these days, research shows you burn up to 30% more fat when exercising thanks to a combination of progesterone and estrogen, which makes your body more efficient at fat-burn.

What I don’t mention often enough, however, is that on these days workouts also feel easier to do!

I was reminded of this little fact this past two weeks. While I was in my Week 2, high estrogen was helping me feel energized and upbeat from the moment I woke up. However, once I hit the treadmill, my running times and distances were abysmal. I had trouble even reaching my lowest targets. I just couldn’t summon the power I wanted.

Then, once my Week 3 arrived, things changed dramatically: The sedating effect of progesterone was making me want to stay in bed under the covers. However, once I crawled out and onto the treadmill, running felt so much easier. I shaved four minutes off my average time–while barely trying to. Once I was done with my aerobic workout, I completed a new resistance routine my burly fitness buff neighbor talked me into trying, which I thought would be grueling, but was totally doable. After that I still had so much energy, I thought about climbing back onto the treadmill!

What gives? Research (such as this and this) shows that during the luteal phase of your cycle (which is the second half), your hormones prompt certain changes in the way it stores and uses fuel, making you feel like you don’t have to exert yourself as much.

The takeaway here?

The next time you feel like you’re totally dragging in the second half of your cycle and are convinced you couldn’t possibly summon the energy to exercise, try to start your routine, anyway. You could be pleasantly surprised by how much less effort is needed than you thought.

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