Trying to Conceive? Exercise to Optimize Fertility

Nicole Crawford

Contributor - Women's, Family, and Kids' Fitness

Women's Fitness, Family and Kids

Regulating your menstrual cycle is the first step to regaining fertility and achieving pregnancy. I've designed the newest cycle of Mommy workouts to help you exercise with your cycle, not in spite of it.

 

What does that mean? It means observing your body and respecting its needs while also doing the things you love. You can have both.

 

The Fertility Workouts

The goal of this 28-day phase of the Fertility Cycle is to become accustomed to modifying your exercise routine based on where you are in your cycle. Regulating your cycle is the first step to regaining fertility and achieving pregnancy. Starting with the first day of menstruation, I will take you through a day-by-day approach to exercise, with a daily schedule provided for your entire 28-day cycle.

 

This cycle of workouts is intended for women who do intense exercise for five or more hours per week. It is based on my own research and experience. I used this approach to regain my own fertility after the birth of my second child, with great success.

 

You might find it challenging to cut back on the time you spend in the gym, but doing so will help your body establish regularity. It’s understood that you want to continue being active while trying to become pregnant. The plan includes at least one sport or activity day per week, depending on where you are in your cycle, so you can continue the activities you enjoy while increasing your fertility.

 

Of course, not all women have the same cycle length, so repeat or skip days as needed. I recommend keeping a log of other markers such as energy levels, sex drive, and vaginal discharge to help you track where you are in your cycle.

Week 1 - Days 1-5: Menstruation

Aim to sleep for 30 minutes more than usual during this part of your cycle.

If cramps make exercise seem unbearable, opt for total rest or a gentle walk.

 

Days One and Two

Complete rest

 

Day Three

30 minute walk

 

Day Four

Complete rest OR Bodyweight Workout 1:

 

Push ups x 5-8 – slow and controlled, keep elbows close to sides

Hip Thrust x 20 – slow and controlled

Hold knees to chest for 30 seconds

Russian Twist x 10

Squat x 10

Forward Bend, ragdoll up to standing x 10

 

Day Five

Complete rest OR yoga Series 1:

 

All poses for five deep breaths unless otherwise noted:

Bound angle pose

Seated forward bend

Child’s pose

Thread the needle

Child’s pose

Pigeon pose with bolster

Seated forward bend

Bridge pose

Child’s pose

Savasana – 10 minutes

 

Days Six and Seven: Transition to End of Follicular Phase

  • Energy levels may increase. If not, stick with walking or repeat Yoga Series 1 or Bodyweight Workout 1.

 

Day Six

30 minute walk

 

OR

 

Practice an exercise you are working on – pull ups, push ups, pistols, or weight lifting movements with moderate weight (no more than 70% max) for 20 minutes.

 

Day Seven

Sport day – practice your sport, but keep intensity low.

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

 

Week Two: End of follicular phase and ovulation

As the follicular phase ends, luteinizing hormone (LH) production and estrogen (E) production both increase sharply to prepare for the release of an egg. That means you should be itching to work out during this week.

 

We’ll keep workout frequency low during week two, with two days of total rest and one light day, but your workouts will be noticeably more intense this week than they were last week.

 

Monday (Day 8)

30 minutes of jogging, swimming, rowing, or other cardio

 

Tuesday (Day 9)

Upper Body Workout

 

A. Press/Pull

 

Repeat this entire sequence five times:

1 one-arm kettlebell press, per side

1 pull up

 

2 presses per side

2 pull ups

 

3 presses per side

3 pull ups

 

4 presses per side

4 pull ups

 

5 presses per side

5 pull ups

 

Notes

The presses should be done with a weight you can press for 8 reps with moderate difficulty.

Feel free to modify pull ups as needed.

Rest as needed throughout the entire workout.

 

B. Farmer’s Walks – max distance, 3 rounds. Rest as needed.

 

Wednesday (Day 10)

Sport day – activity of your choice at max intensity. Go all out and have fun.

 

Thursday (Day 11)

Rest day

 

Friday (Day 12)

Lower Body

 

A. 5 minutes jump rope

 

B.

5 Rounds:

  • Single Leg Deadlift x 10 per side
  • Pistol x 5 per side
  • Walking Lunges x 20
  • Front Squat x 8 – 10

 

C.

3X 400m sprint – try to beat your best time with each attempt.

 

Saturday (Day 13)

Light day – go for a hike, take a light jog, or do yoga for one hour today.

 

Sunday (Day 14 - Ovulation)

Rest day

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

 

Week Three: End of Ovulation; Beginning of Luteal Phase

Week three is a transitional phase that marks the end of ovulation and the beginning of the final stage of your cycle, known as the luteal phase. We will take advantage of increased levels during the final stages of ovulation with two sport days. As you ease into the luteal phase, the emphasis will be on yoga and moderate intensity cardio workouts.

 

Monday (Day 15 - Ovulation)

Sport day – activity of your choice at moderate intensity.

 

Tuesday (Day 16 - Ovulation)

Sport day – activity of your choice at moderate intensity.

 

Wednesday (Day 17 - Ovulation, Beginning of Luteal Phase)

Rest day

 

Thursday (Day 18 - Luteal Phase)

A. 2 mile hike, outside at a moderate intensity. Add running intervals if you feel up to it - 1 minute run, 30 seconds walk.

 

B. Yoga Series 1:

All poses for five deep breaths unless otherwise noted:

  • Bound angle pose
  • Seated forward bend
  • Child’s pose
  • Thread the needle
  • Child’s pose
  • Pigeon pose with bolster
  • Seated forward bend
  • Bridge pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Savasana – 10 minutes

 

Friday (Day 19 - Luteal Phase)

Bodyweight Workout 1:

3 Rounds - rest as needed and take your time with this workout.

  • Push ups x 5-8 – slow and controlled, keep elbows close to sides
  • Hip Thrust x 20 – slow and controlled
  • Hold knees to chest for 30 seconds
  • Russian Twist x 10
  • Squat x 10
  • Forward Bend, ragdoll up to standing x 10

 

Saturday (Day 20 - Luteal Phase)

Active rest day - walk for one hour today, but make it enjoyable and leisurely.

 

Sunday (Day 21 - Luteal Phase)

45 minutes of cardio activity of your choice - running, rowing, swimming, or cardio equipment at the gym. Keep a moderate pace.

OR

Sport day - focus on technique today and keep the intensity light.

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Four: End of Luteal Phase

Week four marks the end of the luteal phase, the stage so many women associate with PMS symptoms. If you experience PMS symptoms during this week, feel free to modify the workouts to fit your own needs. The focus this week will be longer, moderate-intensity bouts of exercise and sports practice.

 

Monday (Day 22)

Rest day

 

Tuesday (Day 23)

45 minutes of cardio activity of your choice - running, rowing, swimming, or using cardio equipment at the gym. Keep a moderate pace.
OR

Sport day – activity of your choice at moderate intensity.

 

Wednesday (Day 24)

3 mile hike, outside at a moderate intensity. Add running intervals if you feel up to it - 1 minute run, 25 seconds walk.

 

Thursday (Day 25)

Yoga Series 1:

All poses for five deep breaths unless otherwise noted:

  • Bound angle pose
  • Seated forward bend
  • Child’s pose
  • Thread the needle
  • Child’s pose
  • Pigeon pose with bolster
  • Seated forward bend
  • Bridge pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Savasana – 10 minutes

 

Friday (Day 26)

Upper Body Workout

 

A. Press/Pull

 

Repeat this entire sequence five times:
1 one-arm kettlebell press, per side
1 pull up

 

2 presses per side
2 pull ups

3 presses per side
3 pull ups

 

4 presses per side
4 pull ups

 

5 presses per side
5 pull ups

 

Notes
The presses should be done with a weight you can press for 8 reps with moderate difficulty.
Feel free to modify pull ups as needed.
Rest as needed throughout the entire workout.

 

B. Farmer’s Walks – max distance, 3 rounds. Rest as needed.

 

Compare how you felt and performed during this workout to how you felt when you first performed it during week one of your cycle. What changes, if any, did you notice?

 

Saturday (Day 27)

Active rest day - walk for one hour today, but make it enjoyable and leisurely.

 

Sunday (Day 28)

Sport day – have fun playing your sport or activity of choice for one hour at moderate intensity.

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Five: Beginning of Second 28-Day Cycle

Days One Through Five: Menstruation

Aim to sleep for 30 minutes more than usual during this part of your cycle.
If cramps make exercise seem unbearable, opt for total rest or a gentle walk.

 

Days One and Two

Sport day – play a sport or other activity of your choice for 30 minutes at moderate intensity.

 

Day Three

45 minute run/walk – intervals of 1 minute run, 2 minutes brisk walk

 

Day Four

Kettlebell Workout 1 - use a weight you can comfortably press for 8 - 10 reps.

5 Rounds:

  • Pull ups – ladders of 1 (Round 1), 2 (Round 2), 3 (Round 3), 4 (Round 4), 5 (Round 5)
  • 25 KB swings per side
  • 10 KB thrusters per side
  • Push ups x 10
  • Side plank x 30 seconds per side
  • Rest in child’s pose for 1 minute between rounds

 

Day Five

Yoga Series 1:

3 Rounds, all poses for five deep breaths unless otherwise noted:

  • Bound angle pose
  • Seated forward bend
  • Child’s pose
  • Thread the needle
  • Child’s pose
  • Pigeon pose with bolster
  • Seated forward bend
  • Bridge pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Downward Dog
  • Warrior I
  • Triangle
  • Warrior I
  • Downward Dog
  • Plank x 30 seconds
  • Child’s Pose
  • Savasana – 10 minutes

 

Days Six and Seven: Transition to End of Follicular Phase

Rest day

 

Day Six

45 minute jog/walk – intervals of 1 minute jog, 2 minutes brisk walk

 

OR

 

Practice an exercise you are working on – pull ups, push ups, pistols, or weight lifting movements with moderate weight (no more than 70% max) for 20 minutes. Compare your performance to your workout on the first day of the first 28-day cycle.

 

Day Seven

Sport day – practice your sport for 30 minutes at moderate intensity

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Six: End of Follicular Phase and Ovulation

Day Eight

Sport day - practice your sport for 45 minutes to an hour. Go all out.

 

Day Nine

Active rest day - hike or walk for one hour today

 

Day Ten

A. Press/Pull/Row -
Use the same weight you used during the last phase (Day 9 of Phase 1). Note any changes in how you feel.

 

Repeat this entire sequence five times:
1 one arm kettlebell press per side
1 pull up
1 row per side

 

2 presses per side
2 pull ups
2 rows per side

 

3 presses per side
3 pull ups
3 rows per side

 

4 presses per side
4 pull ups
4 rows per side

 

5 presses per side

5 pull ups

5 rows per side

 

Notes:
The presses should be done with a weight you can press for 8 reps with moderate difficulty. Feel free to modify pull ups as needed. Rest as needed throughout the entire workout.

 

B. Farmer’s Walks – max distance, 3 rounds. Rest as needed. 

 

Day Eleven

30 minute light jog

 

Day Twelve

Full Body Day:

 

A. 5 Turkish Get Ups - take your time on these

 

B.
3 Rounds:

  • Single Leg Deadlift x 10 per side
  • Pistol x 5 per side
  • Walking Lunges x 20
  • Front Squat x 8 – 10
  • Pull Up x 5
  • Clean and Press x 5-8
  • Push Up x 10

 

C.
3X 400m sprint – try to beat your best time with each attempt.

 

Day Thirteen

Sport day

 

Day Fourteen

Rest day

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Seven: End of Ovulation, Beginning of Luteal Phase

Day Fifteen

Sport day - practice your sport for 45 minutes to an hour. Go all out.

 

Day Sixteen

Run/walk 5k

 

Day Seventeen

Rest day

 

Day Eighteen

Bodyweight Workout:

4 Rounds - rest as needed and take your time with this workout.

  • Push ups x 5-8 – slow and controlled, keep elbows close to sides
  • Hip Thrust x 20 – slow and controlled
  • Hold knees to chest for 30 seconds
  • Russian Twist x 10
  • Squat x 10
  • Forward Bend, ragdoll up to standing x 10

 

Day Nineteen

Sport day

 

Day Twenty

Run/walk 30 minutes - 1 minute run, 1 minute walk

 

Day Twenty-one

Active rest day - walk or practice technique/skill work for one hour

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Eight: End of Luteal Phase

Day 22

Yoga Series 1:
All poses for five deep breaths unless otherwise noted:

  • Bound angle pose
  • Seated forward bend
  • Child’s pose
  • Thread the needle
  • Child’s pose
  • Pigeon pose with bolster
  • Seated forward bend
  • Bridge pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Savasana – 10 minutes

 

Day 23

Sport Day - practice your sport for 1 hour

 

Day 24

Rest Day

 

Day 25

Short Bodyweight Workout:
5 Rounds:

  • Jump rope 2 minutes
  • Push ups x 10
  • Australian pull up x 10
  • Side plank x 30 seconds R/L
  • Pistols x 5 R/L

 

30 minutes skill work

 

Day 26

Sport day

 

Day 27

Active rest - walk for one hour today

 

Day 28

Kettlebell Workout 1 - use a weight you can comfortably press for 8 - 10 reps.
5 Rounds:

  • 25 KB swings per side
  • 10 KB thrusters per side
  • Push ups x 10
  • Goblet squat x 10
  • Side plank x 30 seconds per side
  • Rest in child’s pose for 1 minute between rounds

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Nine: Beginning of Follicular Phase

Day One

A. Press/Pull/Row/Squat
Use the same weight you used during the last phase (Day 10 of Phase 2). Note any changes in how you feel.

 

Repeat this entire sequence five times:
1 one arm kettlebell press per side
1 pull up
1 row per side

 

2 presses per side
2 pull ups
2 rows per side

3 presses per side
3 pull ups
3 rows per side

4 presses per side
4 pull ups
4 rows per side

5 presses per side
5 pull ups
5 rows per side

 

Notes
The presses should be done with a weight you can press for 8 reps with moderate difficulty.
Feel free to modify pull ups as needed.
Rest as needed throughout the entire workout. 

 

Day Two

Sport day - play your sport for 1 hour

 

Day Three

Active rest - Walking or easy run for 45 minutes

 

Day Four

Full Body Day:

A. 5 Turkish Get Ups - take your time on these

 

B.
3 Rounds:

  • Single Leg Deadlift x 10 per side
  • Pistol x 5 per side
  • Walking Lunges x 20
  • Front Squat x 8 – 10
  • Pull Up x 5
  • Clean and Press x 5-8
  • Push Up x 10

 

C.
3X 400m sprint – try to beat your best time with each attempt.
Compare how you feel today to the workout you did on day 12 of phase 2.

 

Day Five

Yoga Series 1:
All poses for five deep breaths unless otherwise noted:

  • Bound angle pose
  • Seated forward bend
  • Child’s pose
  • Thread the needle
  • Child’s pose
  • Pigeon pose with bolster
  • Seated forward bend
  • Bridge pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Savasana – 10 minutes

 

Day Six

Rest day

 

Day Seven

45 minutes jog/walk

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Ten: End of Follicular Phase, Ovulation

Day Eight

Sport day - play your sport for 45 minutes

 

Day Nine

Upper Body - same workouts as Phase 1, Week 2. If you've been following this program you may be able to increase the weight on the presses by 3-5lbs at minimum.

 

A. Press/Pull
Repeat this entire sequence five times:
1 one-arm kettlebell press, per side
1 pull up

 

2 presses per side
2 pull ups

 

3 presses per side
3 pull ups

 

4 presses per side
4 pull ups

 

5 presses per side
5 pull ups

 

Notes
The presses should be done with a weight you can press for 8 reps with moderate difficulty.
Feel free to modify pull ups as needed.
Rest as needed throughout the entire workout.

 

B. Farmer’s walks – max distance, 3 rounds. Rest as needed.

 

Day Ten

30 minute jog

 

Day Eleven

Rest

 

Day Twelve

Sport day - play your sport for 1 hour

 

Day Thirteen

Kettlebell Workout 1 - use a weight you can comfortably press for 8 - 10 reps.

5 Rounds:

  • Pull ups – ladders of 1 (Round 1), 2 (Round 2), 3 (Round 3), 4 (Round 4), 5 (Round 5)
  • 25 KB swings per side
  • 10 KB thrusters per side
  • Push ups x 10
  • Side plank x 30 seconds per side
  • Rest in child’s pose for 1 minute

 

Day Fourteen

Sport day - play your sport for 1 hour

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Eleven: Beginning of Follicular Phase

Day Fifteen

Rest

 

Day Sixteen

Run/walk - 30 seconds run/30 seconds walk

 

Day Seventeen

Sport day - play your sport for 45 minutes

 

Day Eighteen

Bodyweight Workout:

4 Rounds - rest as needed and take your time with this workout.

  • Push ups x 5-8 – slow and controlled, keep elbows close to sides
  • Hip Thrust x 20 – slow and controlled
  • Hold knees to chest for 30 seconds
  • Russian Twist x 10
  • Squat x 10
  • Forward Bend, ragdoll up to standing x 10

 

Day Nineteen

Active rest - 1 hour walk or 30 minute easy jog

 

Day Twenty

Sport day - play your sport for 45 minutes

 

Day 21

2 mile hike

 

Yoga Series 1:
All poses for five deep breaths unless otherwise noted:

  • Bound angle pose
  • Seated forward bend
  • Child’s pose
  • Thread the needle
  • Child’s pose
  • Pigeon pose with bolster
  • Seated forward bend
  • Bridge pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Savasana – 10 minutes

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

 

 

Week Twelve: Beginning of Follicular Phase

Day 22

Rest day

 

Day 23

Short Bodyweight Workout:
5 Rounds:

  • Jump rope 2 minutes
  • Push ups x 10
  • Australian pull up x 10
  • Side plank x 30 seconds R/L
  • Pistols x 5 R/L

 

30 minutes skill work

 

Day 24

Sport day - play your sport for 1 hour

 

Day 25

Skill work - 30 minutes.
Practice an exercise you are working on – pull ups, push ups, pistols, or weight lifting movements with moderate weight (no more than 70% max) for 20 minutes. 

 

Day 26

Active rest day - 1 hour walk or 30 minute easy run

 

Day 27

?Easy sport day

 

Day 28

Rest

 

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.

Topic: 

Breaking Muscle Newsletter

Get updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.