When is the Best Time of Day to Workout?

There are various theories about the best time of day to workout. At the personal training studio I own, training sessions start as early as 5:45am and the latest sessions start at 8pm. We have people that get up early and get their workout done first thing in the morning. We also have other people that get it done after work to release the stress of the day.

So which group is getting the better workout?

If you’re an early bird or have too many evening commitments then a morning workout is ideal for you. Here are some benefits to training in the morning.

1. Very few things can get in the way when you workout in the morning. (Except for the snooze button.) Later in the day extra phone calls, meetings and tasks can get in the way of getting your workout done.

2. After a strength or interval training session, your metabolism is elevated for hours after your workout. Enjoy these post exercise benefits while you are awake and active instead of when you are at rest.

3. Exercise will boost your energy. Use the momentum from a morning workout to arrive at work energized, present and focused instead of feeling sluggish because you just got out of bed.

4. Exercise on an empty stomach before breakfast is a great way to burn more body fat. Upon waking, the body is in a fasted state. Without ready available glucose in the bloodstream, the body is forced to use fat as an available fuel source for the workout.

However, some of us need our sleep or need to burn off the steam of a hectic workday. Here are some of the benefits of working out in the evening.

1. Getting enough sleep is crucial for health and recovery. If you have to skimp on regular sleep to get up for an early workout, the benefits of the workout start to diminish.

2. Instead of taking that stress of work home, you hit the gym after work. Even after the worst workdays, exercise will boost your mood. Friends and family will be grateful that you get your workouts (aka therapy session) completed.

3. Often people feel stronger when they workout in the evenings. When performing strength tests people tend to lift heavier during evening workouts. This could be due to the fact that they are more awake or that they have food fuel to utilize during their exercise session.

4. Research shows that you can build more muscle with evening workouts because cortisol levels are lowest in the evening. The result of this will be a higher testosterone to cortisol ratio leading to a less catabolic workout.

So which time of day comes out on top for the best workout time? In my opinion, it’s the time that you can do consistently. It’s the time that works best with your natural energy rhythms, work schedule, and family commitments.

Experiment working out at different times to see what works best for you. When you find the right fit, schedule your workouts on your calendar to build the exercise habit.