This is a question asked by a lot of people. And I get it, if you are going to uproot your life and start making moves, you want to know the best possible way to get the job done. Just remember – the time of day you workout doesn’t matter if you don’t have everything else in line. When it comes to reaching your goals, the first check-list is do you have a solid workout routine (whenever that is), is your nutrition on track, and are you crushing your sleep/stress/recovery? If all those things aren’t in line, the time of day you workout isn’t going to matter. Build the foundation, then refine the process. There could be benefits to workout timing, so let’s break it down and find out the best time of day to workout.
What is the best time of day to exercise?
Workout timing isn’t as important as you think it is. While there may be benefits of morning workouts and evening workouts, there are a few things to take into account.
First off – the best time to workout is the time you can stick to. If you can’t maintain morning workouts, don’t plan for them. Because consistency in a program is going to be far more important than the timing of your workouts.
Another thing to take into account is nutrition. Are you someone who likes to workout on a empty stomach, or do you like to have a meal in you first. These are a few things to think about for you personally, because again, it depends on you individually. If you like to workout on an empty stomach, maybe morning workouts are best for you. If you like to have more food in your system, then maybe an afternoon or evening workout would be best.
Scheduling is another great way to determine the best workout time for you. Do you need to get up and workout before work because you know you are someone who won’t after work? Or do you enjoy sleeping in so is it better to workout in the evening when you have more energy?
Is it better to exercise in the morning or at night?
The timing of your workout doesn’t matter. Morning, great. Evening, great. Your body doesn’t keep track of time (besides your internal clock of sleep and awake). Your body only knows that it is moving, and that it wants to move. So whatever time works best for you, is going to be the best choice for you.
There can be some pros and cons to morning and evening workouts, so let’s dive into those and you can form your own conclusion.
Benefits of morning workouts
Morning workouts can have some specific benefits to them. It’s important to think about the time of your workout being the time you can give it the most. You want to be able to give the most effort and energy towards it, so that you can see the results you want to see. A few benefits of morning workouts if you are interested in morning workouts.
More energy during the day
Morning workouts are a true way to wake you up, and likely give you more energy throughout the day. Although you likely will be working out on an empty stomach, the energy really comes from the food the evening before. Some research has shown that a morning workout can help combat the afternoon “slump” and also help you sleep better at night.
Kickstart your metabolism
A morning workout can possibly increase calorie burning throughout the day. Your metabolism starts in the morning, and slows down throughout the day. So a morning workout can increase the metabolism for longer during the day, which in turn, could result in more calories burned throughout the day.
Negatives of morning workouts
With positives, usually come a few negatives. These are likely individual to each person, but can still be a few things to take into account.
It can be tough to get up early in the morning. Usually we drag for a little while after we get up, and sometimes we are still tired partway through our workout. Not to mention, our lungs are also still pretty “sleepy” which means the airways are still slightly constricted after waking up.
Increased risk of injury
Tightness and “cold” muscles can be a negative of morning workouts. It will likely take you longer to warm up, but it can also increase your risk of injury because the body isn’t really ready for too much movement early in the morning.
Morning workouts mean, you likely just woke up. And that means you probably aren’t eating much, if anything, before your workout. This could mean early burnout and fatigue due to lack of energy (food) in the body.
Benefits of afternoon workouts
I am a big fan of afternoon workouts. I started out with morning workouts, and while it is great to have it done early in the day, I always felt like I was too tired and low energy to give it my all. There are several benefits of afternoon workouts, but again, it depends on the individual.
Increased range of motion
After moving throughout the day, your body is nice and warm and your joints have much more range of motion. This is going to help to decrease injury during your workouts, but also help you work the full range of motion and strengthen the end ranges.
In the afternoon, you have a full day of eating under your belt. This means all the energy and glucose stores to fuel your workout. More energy means a harder workout, it gives you the ability to really show up.
If you are working out in the afternoon, you have already spent the entire day working or doing whatever you do. This means an afternoon workout can be a great stress reliever from your day. As someone who has anxiety, exercise is a great escape, and can be the same thing after a stressful work day.
Negatives of afternoon workouts
Where there are pros, there are always cons. Negatives of afternoon workouts are more personal, but still deserve a spot in the blog.
Have you ever got home from work late, you’re starving, and then all of a sudden it’s 8pm and you are like “I can’t workout now”? Yeah – that is usually a downside to afternoon workouts. We tend to get busy, make excuses all day about why we can’t do it, or just simply decide you don’t want to.
Poor Sleep Quality
Afternoon workouts can also affect your sleep. This is because certain hormones are released during exercise, that give you energy. That energy can be used for the rest of the day with morning workouts. But for evening workouts, there is nothing to do with that energy. So sometimes it can mean restless nights or just not getting into that deep REM sleep.
Is it bad to workout at night?
There is no “bad” time to workout. The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do. Don’t get caught up in the perfect time or the perfect day. Just move your body and exercise when you can fit it in your schedule and be consistent with it. You will never be 100% on track with your life, workouts, diet etc. So adding in a specific time frame for workouts is just going to decrease that percentage rate. So workout when you have time, simple as that.
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