In most cases, the time of day you work out is based upon personal preference and when your schedule allows you to fit in a workout. The most popular times of day to workout tend to be first thing on a morning, pre-working 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?
Sometimes, it isn’t as simple as choosing a time that best suits your goals, it’s about finding a time that also suits your lifestyle. 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.
Finding the time to get to the gym and fit in your daily workout can be a struggle with work commitments and family restraints, but morning workouts usually allow gym goers to get their workout out of the way before the rest of the family rises, whilst setting you up for the busy day ahead. Morning workouts rely heavily on a good night’s sleep – a lack of sleep will limit the effectiveness of your morning session.
With morning workouts however, it is difficult to ensure your body has all the correct nutrients and fuel pre-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.
Working out on a morning is considered to be good for weight loss goals. 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.
For bodybuilding, morning weight training offers the best potential for building muscle because testosterone hormone levels are at their peak. Testosterone is crucial to protein synthesis which is required for rebuilding damaged muscle fibres.
Working out on an evening after work usually means that your body has all the fuel it needs to make the most of 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.
When working out post-work, you have the opportunity to feed your body with all the key nutrients to maximise your performance. From a nutritious breakfast and lunch to 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.
For bodybuilding, afternoon and evening workouts usually offer the potential for the strongest workout performance, as the body is likely to be in the peak condition for exercise – which is like to assist you in pushing yourself to the limits in your workout to hit your optimum performance.
Evening workouts also offer psychological benefits as well as physical benefits – post-work workouts offer 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.