To workout, or not to workout (during your period) that is the question; and the answer is a resounding yes! The numerous benefits of exercising during your menstrual cycle have been spoken about at length, and we have also shed some light on what yoga poses can help alleviate period cramps here.
When it comes to a full-blown leg workout though, the thought of squatting out a tampon or leaking onto your favourite pair of leggings can be absolutely horrifying. However, if you’re anything like me, the thought of skipping ‘leg-day’ at least once every month is even worse.
So, we have put together a few leg exercises that you can comfortable and safely do while on your period, without any fear of leaving a stain on your clothes or on any of the equipment in the gym. Together, these exercises target all the major leg muscles, resulting in an effective workout that will tone and strengthen your thighs.
The leg-press machine is a great way to work your quads, hamstrings and glutes in a manner similar to the almighty squat but without the strain on your back, the need to engage your core or, most importantly at that time of the month, risking pushing your tampon out each time you squat down.
By working in a prone (lying down) position and using your legs to push a fixed weight within a predetermined range, the leg-press allows you to lift heavier weights that with a barbell back-squat. This also helps increase strength faster.
Another great compound movement that works the hamstrings and the lower back, strengthening the muscles and increasing mobility in the legs is the stiff-leg deadlift. Performed using a barbell, the deadlift requires you to hinge forward at the waist, with the knees straight and stand up while lifting the bar. The bar is lowered and you hinge forward again, maintaining a slight arch in the lower back. The barbell is held close to the body throughout the lift.
The stiff-leg deadlift can also be done using a pair of dumbells or as a single-leg deadlift, with one leg raised off the floor behind you. This engages the core muscles as well, to ensure you remain stable.
SEATED QUAD EXTENSION
The last exercise that you can safely do during your period is the seated quad (or quadricep) extension. As the name suggests, this exercise works the quadricep muscles at the front of the thigh while in a seated position. For this exercise, the legs are used to move a lever up and down. The weight can be adjusted by adding weight plates to the machine, which can help further increase strength in the legs.
In order to perform the seated leg extension safely, make sure that the seat height and leg length are properly adjusted. Your back should remain pressed to the backrest of the seat throughout the exercise and there should be no painful strain on the knees. Lift a comfortable weight, under supervision to ensure maximum benefit.
In addition to these three exercises, lunges, hamstring curls, calf-raises and other similar lower-body movements can be undertaken safely during your period, without the risk of discomfort or creating a mess. As with any physical exercise though, make sure that you take all necessary precautions, work within your limits and are adequately supervised to mitigate injury or pain.