Embarking on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle often prompts the age-old question: What is the best time to engage in physical exercise? This perpetual debate has become a focal point for discussions within the fitness community, drawing insights from enthusiasts, personal trainers, and health experts alike.
In this detailed guide, we delve into the intricacies of choosing the right time to work out, examining the advantages and disadvantages associated with morning, afternoon, and evening exercise sessions. By shedding light on the intersection of your fitness routine with your body's natural rhythms, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding that caters to individuals across the spectrum of fitness experience and expertise.
Best Time to Work Out
Determining the best time to exercise is a highly individualized choice that depends on various factors, including personal preferences, lifestyle, and physiological considerations. Some swear by the invigorating energy of a morning workout, while others find solace in the tranquility of an evening exercise session.
For some people workout time is preference, and for others its may be the only time they have. Some night owls even prefer their workouts at 2 a.m. Now, if you’ve ever been in the gym before, you have likely trained at a range of different times over the years - the early mornings, the lunch breaks, and even the graveyard sesh.
But 2 am? Damn. Talk about being motivated to achieve your fitness goals. It made me wonder... Do people know about the best time to work out to get optimal results to build muscle strength and size? Let’s talk about the research for a moment.
These sessions tend to be great if you enjoy being in a relatively empty gym, but you know that feeling you get when your alarm goes off so early in the morning…
Afternoons and Evenings
These sessions are great for taking advantage of all the energy you have and smashing those lifts, but… only when you can land a machine because let’s face it - the gym can get so crowded that it feels like a zoo!
But here, you’ll see better performance, with increased maximal oxygen uptake, anaerobic capacity, and greater performance duration.
Further studies strengthen this by suggesting that afternoon sessions are better for strength and hypertrophy.
The evenings are also a great time to relieve stress that has built up throughout the day, as it aids the release of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which has an antidepressant and anti-anxiety effect on the body.
Let's explore in greater detail.
First thing, the concept of early morning exercise is not merely a trend but a strategic approach to kickstart each day with a surge of vitality and well-being.
The Early Bird Catches the Fitness Bug
There's a certain magic to kickstarting your day with a bout of exercising. Morning workouts have the advantage of revving up your metabolism early on, setting the tone for increased calorie burn throughout the day. As you engage in physical activity, your body releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones, promoting a positive mindset and enhanced mental clarity—a valuable asset as you navigate the challenges of the day.
Morning exercisers often form a community, providing support and motivation, particularly beneficial for older adults seeking a sense of belonging in their wellness journey.
Boosting Consistency and Discipline
Scheduling your morning exercise routine creates a structured start to your day. By prioritizing fitness as the first item on your agenda, you're less likely to succumb to the pressures and unforeseen events that can derail evening workouts. This consistency can foster a sense of discipline, helping you stick to your fitness goals over the long haul.
A Refreshing Kickstart for Mind and Body
The invigorating jolt of a morning workout not only wakes up your muscles but also jumpstarts your circulatory system, enhancing blood flow and oxygen delivery to your body's tissues. This surge of vitality can leave you feeling more alert, focused, and ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
Harnessing the Power of Hormones
The morning is when our cortisol levels naturally peak, providing an additional edge for exercising. Cortisol, often associated with stress, plays a crucial role in energy regulation. Leveraging this natural hormonal surge can maximize the effectiveness of your workout, leading to improved performance and better results.
Benefits of Morning Workouts
Jumpstart Your Metabolism: Exercising in the morning can kickstart your metabolism, helping you burn fat throughout the day. New research suggests that a morning exercise elevates your metabolic rate, setting the stage for increased belly fat burning throughout the day. This can contribute significantly to lose weight
Consistency and Discipline: Early risers often find it easier to establish a consistent workout routine. It becomes a habit, setting a positive tone for the rest of the day and fostering discipline maximizing the optimal health impact of morning sessions.
Improved Mood and Focus: Morning workouts release endorphins, enhancing mood and promoting better focus and productivity throughout the day. This can be especially beneficial for those with busy schedules.
Early Blood Pressure Control: Exercise in the morning has been linked to lower blood pressure throughout the day, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.
Drawbacks of Morning Workouts
Body Temperature and Performance: Early mornings may be associated with lower temperatures, potentially affecting exercise performance. It's crucial to engage in a proper warm-up to mitigate this drawback.
Empty Stomach Exercise: Some individuals prefer working out on an empty stomach in the morning. While this might enhance fat burning, it may not be suitable for everyone, and it's essential to consider individual nutritional needs.
While the morning person has its merits, let's delve into the unique advantages that it brings to the table, allowing you to harness the peak energy stores for the day for optimal physical and mental gains.
Studies, such as those featured in renowned health newsletter emphasize the positive effects of afternoon exercise on metabolic health and blood sugar regulation.
Prime Energy Levels
As the day unfolds, so does your body's energy potential. Afternoon exercise taps into the natural ebb and flow of your energy levels, capitalizing on the peak power reached in the post-lunch period. This translates to improved endurance, strength, and overall performance during your workout time.
The afternoon offers a warmer climate compared to the morning, providing a conducive environment for exercising. With muscles and joints more flexible and warmed up, the risk of injury is minimized, allowing for a more effective and safer workout session.
Stress Relief and Mental Reset
Afternoons often come with the accumulated stress of the day's challenges. Engaging in exercise during this time becomes a powerful stress-relief mechanism. The endorphins released through exercise as natural mood elevators, helping to alleviate tension and providing a mental reset for the remainder of the day.
For those who thrive on social interactions, the afternoon presents an excellent opportunity for group workouts or activities with friends. Whether it's a post-work session or a team sport, the afternoon allows for a shared fitness experience, fostering a sense of camaraderie and motivation.
Improved Sleep Quality
Contrary to the notion that exercising in the evening disrupts sleep, it has been linked to quality sleep. The post-workout drop in temperature aligns with the body's natural circadian rhythm, contributing to fall asleep relaxed
Benefits of Afternoon Workouts
Peak Body Temperature: Body temperature tends to peak in the late afternoon, leading to improved muscle function and exercise performance. This makes afternoons an optimal time for high-intensity exercise.
Fewer Distractions: Afternoons often offer a break from the demands of work or daily responsibilities, providing a focused window for your workout without the rush of the early workouts or fatigue of the nighttime workouts.
Social Benefits: Afternoon workouts can be a social activity, allowing you to join classes or exercise with friends. The social aspect can contribute to motivation and enjoyment. Engaging in group exercise during the afternoon enhances social connections, a factor proven to positively impact exercise adherence.
Caloric Expenditure: Afternoon exercise contributes to increased caloric expenditure, providing a powerful tool for burning belly fat and promoting weight loss.
Drawbacks of Afternoon Workouts
Time Constraints: For those with busy schedules, finding time in the afternoon can be challenging. Commitments at work or family responsibilities may limit the flexibility of your exercise routine.
Energy Fluctuations: Some individuals may experience energy fluctuations in the afternoon, making it essential to choose the right time within this window to optimize your exercise.
In the sphere of evening workouts, the setting sun becomes a backdrop to a unique fitness experience, offering a distinct array of advantages for those seeking to prioritize health and wellness during the twilight hours.
Decompression and Mindful Transition
Evening exercise acts as a bridge, facilitating a mindful transition from the demands of the day to a state of relaxation to sleep. It becomes a deliberate act of decompression, allowing individuals to shed the stressors of work or daily responsibilities and enter a more serene mindset through physical exercise.
The visual allure of a setting sun can be a powerful motivator. The changing hues of the night sky provide a picturesque backdrop, inspiring a sense of tranquility and motivation for your exercise. This natural scenery can enhance the overall experience, making your exercise routine a visually enriching endeavor.
Enhanced Flexibility and Comfort
As the day progresses, the body tends to become more flexible, and joints become more supple. Night workouts leverage this increased flexibility, making movements smoother and reducing the risk of injury. The comfortable ambient temperature of the evening further adds to the ease of physical activity.
Personal Reflection and Goal Setting
As the day winds down, the evening becomes an opportune moment for self-reflection. Participating in exercise during this introspective time allows individuals to assess their achievements, reflect on their fitness journey, and set personal goals for continuous improvement.
Quality Time for Self-Care
The evening workout serves as an act of self-care, providing a dedicated space for individuals to invest in their physical and mental well-being. Whether it's a calming yoga session or an invigorating run, the night owls evolve into a sanctuary for personal growth and self-nurturing.
Benefits of Evening Workouts
Enhanced Performance: Research shows that muscle strength and anaerobic performance may peak in the early evening. This can be particularly advantageous for resistance training and high-intensity exercise. Evening workouts may target stubborn fat stores, especially when paired with targeted exercises and resistance training.
Stress Relief: Evening exercise can serve as a stress-relief mechanism, helping to unwind after a demanding day. This can contribute to better sleep quality and overall well-being.
Fewer Injuries: Temperature and muscle flexibility tend to be higher in night, potentially reducing the risk of injuries during exercise.
Heart Disease Prevention: Studies published such as the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, that evening workouts may positively influence heart rate variability, a key indicator of cardiovascular health. Research suggests that consistent evening exercise is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and low blood pressure emphasizing the importance of being physically active.
Drawbacks of Evening Workouts
Sleep Disruption: Intense exercise close to bedtime may impact better quality sleep for some individuals. While research is mixed on this, it's essential to listen to your body and adjust your exercise timing accordingly.
Crowded Gyms: In popular fitness centers, the early evening can be peak hours with crowded spaces and limited access to equipment. This may pose challenges for those seeking a more private or focused exercise session.
Here's the truth. The best results will ultimately come with consistency and a routine you can stick with. I mean, let’s face it – if you are getting in the gym at times you THINK you should be training, but don’t LIKE, it probably won't be sustainable long term.
And you probably won’t be giving it your 100%. So get in when at the time that best suits your personal preferences, maintain consistency and then you will see optimal results. So, what does this all mean? You should train when it best suits you!
And if you're going to be taking time out of your day to exercise, you should make sure you're getting the best workout in while you're at it.
Get your 7-day free trial of all our workout programs today.