For many people, work, family and social commitments determine what time you can work out. The most popular times of day to workout tend to be first thing on a morning, the pre-working time of the day or on an evening, post-work. But is there a best time to work out in order to best meet your goals? Whether you are looking to lose weight, build muscle, or work towards your next bodybuilding competition, morning and evening workouts both offer their own unique benefits. What time best suits you?
Whilst most of us would love to choose a workout time that best suited our goals, in most cases, our lifestyles take priority instead. From working hours and family commitments, to gym opening times and daily to-do lists, your gym schedule quite often depends on when your lifestyle allows you to fit it in.
Adult life is often hectic, but morning workouts usually allow gym goers to get their workout out of the way before the rest of the family rises. It also sets you up for the busy working day ahead. Morning workouts rely heavily on a good night’s sleep – a lack of sleep will limit the effectiveness of your morning session.
When working out first thing on a morning, because of the time of day, it is unlikely that you have time to eat and digest food to fuel your workout – meaning your body might not have all the nutrients it needs to get the most out of the workout. The key to fuelling your body for a morning workout is a balanced evening meal the night before, and a small high protein snack pre-workout on the morning. A banana, protein shake using whey protein powder or protein bars are all good pre-workout snacks first thing on a morning – nothing too heavy, but enough to fuel your body for the workout ahead.
If your goal is to lose weight, working out on a morning could be the prime time for you to hit the gym and see results. This is because it kickstarts your metabolism as early as possible so that you continue to burn more calories throughout the day. According to research, when your body is in fasting mode whilst exercising (i.e. exercising before breakfast), your body burns fat stores for energy as oppose to carbohydrates from the food you have eaten. In fact, some research suggests that you can burn up to 20% more body fat when hitting the gym with an empty stomach rather than after a full day of regular eating.
Bodybuilders who are looking to build strong muscle could witness better results from working out on a morning because testosterone hormone levels are at their peak. Testosterone is crucial to protein synthesis which is required for rebuilding damaged muscle fibres.
Evening workouts are sometimes more convenient for people because they can go straight to the gym after finishing work – and you can ensure that your body has received all the key nutrients to fully fuel the workout. One study suggests that your body has a better ability to perform greater in an afternoon workout as oppose to a morning workout. This is because your body’s ability to perform peaks in the afternoon as your temperature rises and optimises your muscle function and strength, enzyme activity and endurance. In fact, you are supposedly up to 20% more flexible later in the day because of how your muscles have warmed up throughout the day.
Evening workouts give you the opportunity to maximise your performance because your body has been fuelled with a nutritious breakfast and lunch, pre-workout snacks and supplements. Between the hours of 2pm and 6pm, experts believe your body naturally has more energy available to burn in a more vigorous workout post-work as oppose to early morning.
Your body is likely to be in peak condition for lifting on an afternoon and evening, so many bodybuilders choose a PM workout for the strongest workout. Peak body conditions are likely to assist you in pushing yourself to the limits in your workout to hit your optimum performance.
Post-work workouts on an evening offer psychological benefits because they provide an opportunity to release daily stresses. Studies have linked weight gain to increased stress levels, if evening workouts can be used as a release, then surely it is a healthier way combat stress and refrain from weight gain.