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The Best Time of Day To Train: Considerations to Maximize Your Results

girl working out in home gym

Are you an early riser hitting the gym before the sun is up, or do you prefer the quiet of a late-night workout session? The time of day you choose to train can impact the way you train and the results it breeds. We're here to dive into the considerations of training at different times of the day and what you can do to optimize each of these training windows.


 

Morning Workouts: Rise and Shine

For many, early morning workouts are a favorite choice. Here’s why:

  1. Increased Energy for the Day: Morning exercise can boost your energy levels and set a positive tone for the day ahead.

  2. Consistency: By working out in the morning, you're less likely to skip your workout due to unexpected events or fatigue later in the day.

  3. Daily Schedule: It's really your only option when you spend your remaining day getting kids to and from school (and curriculars) and your workday.


The biggest consideration when training first thing in the morning is nutrition. We are advocates of progressive strength training and even higher intensity cardio sessions to be done in a FED state. Implementing very glycolytic-driven training modalities (strength training and moderate to high intensity cardio) in a fasted state can stunt the potential that training will achieve and provide you.


IF you are training early in the morning, it's important that you are getting something into your system prior to training. Check out this blog post that breaks down what an optimal pre-workout meal could look like. If a full meal just isn't feasible our next recommendation is AT least 20-30 grams of carbohydrates before training. This can be something quick like fruit, some juice or coconut water, or even an applesauce pouch (or two!).


Afternoon Sessions: The Midday Boost

Training in the afternoon presents its own benefits:

  1. Optimal Body Conditions: By the afternoon, your body temperature and hormone levels are at their peak, potentially improving performance and reducing injury risk.

  2. Lunchtime Motivation: A midday workout can break up the workday, providing a mental refresher and boosting productivity. If you have an hour-long lunch break, this may be the "only" time you have since before and after work are filled with family needs or other priorities. (This is also a big benefit if your workplace has an onsite facility.)

  3. Better Fueled: By lunchtime, you'll likely have 1-2 solid meals consumed which makes for a more fueled training session (unlike an early morning session).


The downside? None really! However, this is often the "least popular" time to workout simply due to schedules and how many just don't allow for a midday break.


Evening Exercise: Unwinding After Hours

For those who prefer to end their day in the gym, here are the perks:

  1. Stress Relief: Evening workouts can help unwind after a long day and promote relaxation before bedtime.

  2. Social Engagement: Evening classes or gym sessions can be more socially engaging and offer a sense of community.

  3. Improved Performance: Studies suggest that strength and endurance peak in the evening, potentially leading to better workouts. This could also be due to being in the most fed state that you'll be in all day (having 2-3 meals consumed by this point in the day).


However, evening workouts interfere with sleep for some individuals due to increased adrenaline and heart rate post-exercise. Another downfall to evening workouts is that there could be a higher chance of missing or skipping the session due to obligations that arise or simply a lack of energy from a long day.


 

Finding Your Sweet Spot

The ideal workout time ultimately depends on individual preferences, schedules, and goals. Here are a few tips to help you find your optimal training time:

  1. Experiment: Try different times of day for your workouts over several weeks to see what feels best for you.

  2. Consider Your Schedule and Obligations: Don't commit to a specific time of day that simply isn't realistic for you. This will set you up for failure.

  3. Consider Goals: Your fitness objectives (like weight loss, muscle gain, or stress reduction) may influence the best time to exercise.

  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your energy levels, mood, and performance vary throughout the day.

  5. Routine Consistency: Regardless of timing, consistency is key to seeing results. Choose a time that fits your lifestyle and stick with it.


Whether you're an early bird or a night owl, the most important thing is to make physical activity a regular part of your routine. By understanding the pros and cons of training at different times of day and listening to your body, you can optimize your workouts and your recovery.

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