Morning, midday or midnight — when’s the best time to work out?
Morning, midday or midnight — when’s the best time to work out? Well, that depends on when’s the best time for you.
The best time of the day is when you will do it most consistently, because consistency is key and exercise is almost always preferable to no exercise. However, here are some points to consider so you decide what time it is best for you to work out.
When you feel the best.
There are times during the day when you will have a slight physiological advantage if you work out during them, but none of those trump the psychological edge you have if you feel like exercising. As simple as this sounds, this means that if you’re a night owl, work out at night. Morning person? Work out first thing in the morning…you get my drift. Any time you’re in the mood to really Bring It will work because, by far, the biggest physiological changes happen to your body when you push yourself further than you’ve pushed yourself before.
When your glycogen stores are full.
Now, let’s get technical. Your body can push itself anaerobically longer and harder if you begin your workout with a full tank of muscle glycogen. This will let you lift more weight, jump higher, move faster pretty much improve every important aspect of every workout that’s not tied to recovery or aerobic efficiency.
Glycogen is mainly recharged by carbohydrates, and is extinguished very quickly with exercise, brain activity, and most other tasks. This means it fluctuates throughout the day and is always highest immediately after you digest a meal containing carbohydrates. This means depending on your eating schedule your body is probably primed for peak exercise in the late morning, afternoon, or early evening.
In the morning on an empty stomach.
In the morning, before you’ve eaten, your body is forced to utilize its fat stores for energy, and you can train your body to be efficient at doing so, which is cool. You’re also “burning fat,” which sounds even cooler. This is why most exercise programs are done in the morning because the easier workout of the day is scheduled in the morning.
At night before bed.
This time of day is last for a reason. Unless it is really the only time you will work out or the only time you feel the best, you should probably avoid it.
Working out directly before bed can affect your sleep. Most people have a hard time getting to sleep after a workout because exercise can throw off your melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, among other things. This is not ideal because sleep is very important for recovery. It’s when your body naturally produces most of its own performance-enhancing drugs in the form of hormones. Anything that hurts your ability to sleep should be eliminated if possible.
Exercise also utilizes a lot of nutrients, which are further depleted at night. If you’re on a strict diet, perhaps trying to lose weight, you run further risk by training and then not eating to recover from the workout prior to bed. If you’re on a low-calorie diet and plan to train hard at night, you should follow your workout with, at least, a nutritional recovery strategy (Results and Recovery Formula or equivalent), if not a small meal before going to sleep.
However, there’s nothing wrong with training at night. Just follow nutritional protocols that don’t leave you depleted and starving when you wake up.
The bottom line is that everyone’s body responds differently. We all need to exercise and most of us can eat better. In between are a lot of individual variables. When it comes to getting your best possible workout, psychology often trumps physiology. Exercise when you can and pay close attention to your performance. Then choose your preferred workout time based on your results. It’s really that simple.