It is hard to determine which is the best time to workout – everybody is different, right? What time of day is best for you depends on your lifestyle. Some of us are early birds, some night owls. But it’s most important to get into a routine and workout at the same time each day. This is because your body starts reacting better when it knows what’s coming! (1) Here are the facts on time-specific workouts to help you decide which should be your exercise time slot.
Late afternoon has been proven to be the best time for performance. This has a lot to do with your body temperature. The body exercises most effectively when it is warmer (hence why it’s super important to warm up before hitting the gym hard!). Throughout the day, your core body temperature increases (2). If your body temperature is warmer, your muscle power, endurance and performance is better.
Research shows that testosterone is essential for muscle building and performance in both men and women. Although we have a great testosterone level in the morning, it has been found that our body responds better to it in the afternoon. (3)
While research suggests that morning workouts are less advantageous, fear not early birds! It’s easier to motivate yourself to exercise when you first wake up: you’re refreshed and energy levels are high. By the afternoon we’re all thinking of the end of our busy day and the gym seems like a struggle. It might be better for your performance to workout in the afternoon, but it’s even better to get into a workout routine. The time at which you regularly exercise will be more effective than when you switch up your training time. So if you get into the habit of working out at 7pm rather than 4pm, this will eventually be the best time for performance. (4) Don’t doubt your body and it’s ability to adapt to your needs!
There is some evidence to suggest that exercising in the morning (7am) is much more beneficial to your sleep than afternoon (1pm) exercising (5). This is because exercise increases your heart rate and energy levels.
Another reason to workout in the morning is that you burn up to 20% more body fat when exercising on an empty stomach. This is much easier to do in the morning. If you wait all day to workout on an empty stomach, your performance won’t be great and you might even start to feel dizzy.
Technically body-speaking, the evening is not a great time to exercise, simply because you’ll be most tired yet it can keep you from going to sleep. But this depends on what you like to gain from exercising. If it’s to clear your head as well as stay healthy, evening workouts could be your jam. They’ll be relaxing after a busy day at work and can help get you in the right mindset to fall asleep.
You might also find that despite being tired at the end of the day, you’ll have a second wind. This will inspire you to smash out a great workout!
If your lifestyle allows, try and test a few different times of working out. Start with afternoon training for a week or two, then change it up to the morning, then try evening sessions. You’ll quickly realise which one fits in with your routine and allows you to get the most out of your workout!