We all want to make the most of our workouts. This is why we strive to find the best exercises to do, invest in the right fitness equipment, and buy high quality workout drinks and food. But what about timing? Does this matter at all?
When is the best time of the day for you to exercise?
Let’s go over the day, part by part, and talk about the pros and cons of exercising during each of them. We’ll start with the early morning and proceed until the late hours of the night.
Working Out In The Morning
Exercising in the morning has a number of great benefits that you should be aware of:
1. Research has shown that doing cardio in the morning can be better for fat burning than doing it at any other time of the day. The reason is that your body taps into your fat stores to fuel your workouts because it doesn’t have as many accessible calories to use due to the time that has passed since your last meal.
2. Doing a morning workout can help you get more energy and increase productivity throughout your day. I have a morning ritual in which I do a short workout before breakfast and it never fails to make my day better.
3. You start your day knowing that you’ve already done your workout. This means that no matter what happens later that day, you already got your exercises done.
However, exercising in the morning also has some downsides:
1. You need to get up earlier to do it – This is something that you will need to get used to. For those of us who find it hard to get up in the morning, this can be a challenge in and of itself.
2. Your workout may be weaker – Since you haven’t eaten for some hours, you may lack a bit of energy and may not be able to do heavy lifting exercises or an intense workout in general. I find that with cardio this is less of a problem than with strength training, but it is something to be aware of.
You should make sure to drink a lot of water after you wake up. Don’t workout before hydrating yourself.
Just Before Lunch
I’m talking about scheduling your workout so it will end just before you plan to have lunch. This way, you finish the workout and go to eat straightaway. I like to workout at this time of the day for a few reasons:
1. After any strength workout, there’s a window of 1-2 hours in which your body can best utilize nutrients. If you eat during this time, you will build more muscle mass and less of the calories will be stored as fat. As you have lunch right after your workout, this sorts itself out perfectly.
2. As Joel Marion teaches in the 24/7 Fat Loss plan, the best time to eat carbs is either during breakfast or after a strength workout. As lunch is often rich in carbohydrates, training before it gives your body the best chance to process your carbs correctly and efficiently.
Research has shown that the late afternoon (17-19) may be the time in which your body is best primed for exercise. You may find that you’re stronger and your muscles are warmer – which may help reduce risk of injury. You may also find that you can do more work if you train at this time.
What’s good about this time of the day is that many of us are just finishing work and find ourselves on the way home. This is an excellent time to stop at the gym and do a workout. It’s just before dinner and we haven’t stepped into our home yet.
Let’s be frank, if you go home from work, the chances of you going to the gym that night are slim. This is why I like post-work workouts. You’re already out, so it’s easy to stop at the gym for a quick workout. It also helps you unwind from your workday before you get home.
I used to do a lot of late night training, but I don’t anymore. It’s bad for your social life and now I like to spend time with my wife in the evening and night. When I was single it was easier to train at those hours. I like how the gym becomes empty and you can move from one machine to another without having to wait or share.
One of the things that people say about late night training is that it reduces the quality of your sleep by making it harder to fall asleep. I remember times when my body continued being warm for a long time after my workout and I would lie in bed for hours unable to fall asleep. However, there were also nights in which I would sleep like a baby. Research is also inconclusive on this issue. It may be a personal issue and not something that is a general rule.
Does It Really Matter?
If you read my previous post on the 80/20 rule of fat loss you know that I’m not a big fan of trying to make everything super-efficient. I believe that if you get the basic things right, that you will lose weight and improve your fitness.
This is why I believe that you should train whenever you find the time to do so. You need to build your own workout schedule. It has to fit your life. The main thing is to actually workout. When you do so is far less important and the differences may be slim.
So, if you ask me what is the best time to of the day to exercise, my answer is whatever time suits you. Whenever you actually exercise is good for me.
When do you like to exercise? Let me know in the comments below.
Image source: Alan Cleaver