PCOS friendly workouts to stay motivated on bad days

21 April, 2023 / words by IALH Editorial Team

Written by Fitness With Keisha

Image via Pinterest

When you’re diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), you’re often told to ‘just lose weight’ which is frustrating because it’s not that simple. The misconception is that weight gain is the only symptom of PCOS but it’s much more than that! 

Symptoms of PCOS can include: 

– Hair loss 

– Irregular cycles 

– Acne 

– Excessive hair growth 

– Changes in mood 

– Inflammation 

– & more!

When I was diagnosed with PCOS, I was also told to ‘just lose weight’. I thought that meant I had to be in the gym 7x a week and I couldn’t leave until I was sweating buckets. I did that for a while and saw no change at all. Instead I was severely exhausted and just all round frustrated and confused that I was still not getting anywhere with my journey! If this sounds like you too… you may want to keep reading.

There are many ways of managing your PCOS symptoms, but in today’s article I’ll be sharing one of my favourite components that gives me the best endorphin release whilst keeping my hormones in check. YES, YOU GUESSED IT… the best workouts for your PCOS! 

Workouts that you’ll actually enjoy without spiking your cortisol levels and workouts you’ll actually see progress with. You’ll start feeling better within yourself, your PCOS symptoms will improve and you’ll get a big boost of confidence!

Let me just clarify that movement in itself can be super flexible to your interests, doing what makes you feel the happiest is key because when you are happy your hormones are too!

Types of workouts that may work for you

– Weight/Resistance training 

– Walking 

– Swimming 

– Dance 

– Yoga 

– Or anything else you truly enjoy that keeps you active!

Step 1 – Set Goals

Set yourself a daily step goal! I set myself an achievable goal of 5000 – my usual daily amount is 4500 – and to progress i make sure to increase my step goal by 500 steps biweekly (I love to challenge myself)! 

I started out as a beginner with my steps – starting at 200 steps a day as I used to work from home, but this journey is about progress, so remember to push yourself a little every other week and set small goals… just like your steps! 

These are my current steps for today – I usually make up the remainder of my steps by increasing my NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) – for example doing laundry, going up and down the stairs, chatting on the phone and walking around the house.

Step 2 – Planning a PCOS friendly workout

Get yourself a workout programme that has your workouts laid out for you so you can make sure you have some direction when you enter the gym and also so you can keep a record of how well you progress on the exercises throughout your journey! A good way to create this yourself would be to figure out how many days you’re planning to exercise in the gym per week, then split those days up into the following: 

UPPER BODY – You can split this further into push and pull days if you’re slightly more advanced & have more time. 

LOWER BODY – You can split this further into glutes/hamstrings & quad focused days if you’re slightly more advanced & have more time. 

FULL BODY – This will challenge your body even further as you are working numerous muscle groups in one session 

CARDIO/CORE – This is primarily to increase your overall stamina and endurance – and core because a strong core creates a strong lift and supports many functions of the body!

Once you’ve split these days up, create yourself a structured routine for each day. Set a goal to practice progressive overload ( doing the same exercises but every week increasing the intensity, weights and reps) this is the ultimate way to build muscle and to get ‘toned’. 

Examples of progressive overload: 

– Increasing the weight by 2.5kg each session/set 

– Increasing time under tension by slowing down your movements 

– Shortening rest periods between sets 

– Adding an extra set 

– Adding an extra rep

This is an example of what my PCOS workout programme looks like! Once I start my workout, I’m able to watch videos to help my form, track my weights and record the session! Its almost like having a pocket PT! 

Step 3 – Embracing downtime & slower activities

This all may seem very straight forward but I’m now going to drop the biggest secret to making this all PCOS friendly. I need you to ‘slow it down’. Movement can be seen as something that requires lots of fast and intense movements with lots of huffing and puffing, but in our case, slowing it down is more magical than you may believe! It is essential for workouts to be slow, lower in intensity and enjoyable! 

This approach doesn’t just apply to workouts but your overall lifestyle! Life can sometimes be ‘go, go, go!’ which isn’t the best for our hormones. So taking even 5-10 mins out for yourself every night, or during the day to apply some relaxation habits like short meditations, stretches and moments of mindfulness can be great for your cortisol levels & actually help with lowering androgens which all in all can really contribute to managing your PCOS symptoms – YAY! 

We know that PCOS is not easy, so if you need further advice, guidance or accountability on this journey make sure you reach out on and follow our social pages @fitnesswithkeisha for some relatable PCOS content & tips!


IALH Editorial Team


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