Should You Work-out in the Morning or Afternoon / night?
Is there an advantage to exercising early in the morning? How about later in the day or at night?
Should I be doing one or the other, and why?
I get this question a lot, and to be honest my answer is different every time. Why? Because everyone’s life is different and requires different training variables including the time of day training is performed.
The honest answer always is:
“It really doesn’t matter. As long as you are consistent with your training you will see results and get healthier. But… (insert explanation for why training at a certain time may be better for that individual).”
Let’s look closely into each time of day so you can pick one that will work best for you and your life. Remember, each time of day has its benefits as well as its draw backs, it is up to you to figure out which time of day will support your training goals the best.
Why choose to work-out in the morning?
Well first of all you get the work-out out of the way. Getting a training session done first thing in the morning leaves you the rest of the day to get your work done or whatever it is you need to accomplish without stressing over creating enough time to fit your training session in.
If you choose to train in the AM you may also experience more energy throughout the day as well as find it easier to fall asleep at night. These are two awesome benefits of training in the AM.
Because you will get tired earlier in the night and have an easier time falling asleep you will also have an easier time waking up and waking up earlier in the morning. This usually leads to more consistency with your training because no crazy schedule or emergency at work during the day will prevent you from missing a work-out since you will always have time by waking up early.
Training in the morning also has a greater impact for people trying to lose weight. Most of the time you will be training in a fasted state which will force the body to utilize fat as energy leading to faster fat loss. But honestly in my opinion people get good results losing body fat from training in the AM due to the consistency and making it a habit.
A few drawbacks to training in the morning:
For starters, your body has been motionless anywhere from 5-9 hours which means the muscles are cold, joints are tight and the system is not operating on a high level. If you chose to work out in the morning you MUST make a warmup the priority of your training session in order to prevent injury.
If your goals are to get stronger, more powerful and optimize athletic performance then training in the morning might not be the best choice. Especially because strength, power and athletic training utilize complex lifts with high intensity that require a ton of recruitment of your central nervous system. Your central nervous system needs to be firing optimally in order to perform the best and it takes a sometime to warm up and get the proper muscle groups firing which is limited in the morning. You are also in a mild fasted state during the morning which means your potential strength and power are decreased from the lack of glycogen in your system.
This leads to why you may want to schedule your training sessions during the afternoon or closer to the evening.
In the afternoon and early evening hours the body is usually warmed up, joints have been moving around enough to get them lubricated and gliding smoothly and you have consumed some meals to give you the energy needed to train hard.
If your goals are increased strength, power and athletic performance you may just see better results from training in the afternoon / early evening. I personally know I am strongest mid-day around 3-4pm, you need to experiment with the times of day you choose to train and find what times help produce the best benefits for you and your goals.
A few drawbacks to training later in the day:
Some of us are just mentally drained after a long day at work, school or just from living in general! It can be hard to focus all of your attention on the workout in front of you if your mind is drained and you have experienced stress throughout the day. This leaves room for “just going through the motions” in your training sessions and can potentially lead to injuries.
Also you may find it harder to fall asleep the closer you train to your bedtime. And you may have trouble getting up because your body prioritizes recovery over your alarm clock and doesn’t want to get out of sleep which is when recovery happens. You will most likely also be consuming your post workout meal after training and depending on the macronutrient makeup of that meal it can potentially keep you awake at night.
If your goal is to look good and feel good, maybe lose some body fat, build some lean muscle and increase your overall well-being then I would train in the AM. In my personal experience training in the AM is the best choice for people just wanting to live a healthy life.
If your goal is to become stronger, gain serious amounts of muscle and become more powerful and athletic I would train later on in the day. Your body and central nervous system are warmed up, you have a good amount of energy from consuming a few meals which will keep intensity high during training sessions.
Again, to me, for the average person just trying to lead a healthy lifestyle the time of day really does not matter as much as consistency with your training does. Be consistent and you will see results.
Experiment with training at different times throughout the day and find which works best for you!
Your fellow student of life,
Contact me for training at email@example.com
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