So, when is the best time to train? It’s a loaded question that if you asked a number of professionals you would probably receive a plethora of different answers. There are a lot of different variables to take into consideration, one being that sometimes psychology wins out of physiology when it comes to dragging your butt to the gym. Bottom line is, don’t let the time it says on the clock hold you back from getting your sweat on. Here are the top five times of day to train.
1. When it Fits Best into Your Schedule
Thank you captain obvious, surely this is the first one that comes into everyones mind. The majority of us lead hectic, busy lives, which leaves us little time for much else. The great thing about our bodies is, they adjust. Sure, you may only be able to fit in a half an hour at the gym right after work, and it will be hard the first few weeks, but after that you will fall into a routine and staying with that consistent time will help you stick to your workout regimen.
2. When You Feel the Most Energy
Thanks to our circadian rhythms which control our body temperature, blood pressure, alertness and metabolism, among other things, some of us are morning people and some of us dread the thought of opening our eyes before 11am. I don’t think this is something that should be ignored. The good news is that research done by the University of North Texas, Denton found that even though circadian rhythms are inborn, we do have the ability to reset them. If the only time you can work out is early mornings, keep setting that alarm, once your system resets itself you’ll have no problem rising to the sound of chirping birds.
3. When Your Nutrition Meets Your Goals
If you’re looking to be stronger, faster and improve performance, your body needs to be properly fueled. Muscles have big reserves of a complex carb called glycogen. Muscles convert glycogen into energy that your body utilizes throughout the day. Glycogen stores are usually at their lowest in the morning, which is not ideal for performance.
4. First Thing in the Morning on an Empty Stomach
If you’re trying to drop pounds and lose fat, working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is probably the best time for you. If your glycogen stores are depleted, your body is forced to utilize its fat stores for energy. If you find you lack energy before your morning workout, have something light like a protein shake.
5. At Night Before Bed
Can exercise improve sleep quality? Yes, and no. Exercise increases core body temperature, heart rate and prompts your system to release epinephrine (adrenaline) none of which are ideal for sleep. On the other hand, exercise reduces stress hormones such as cortisol, which can leave your body in a more relaxed state for sleep. Try to wait and hour or two after a late workout to allow your body time to return to a rested state.
Don’t forget some other key points, such as the fact that morning exercisers are more likely to be consistent with workouts according to research. As far as afternoon workouts are concerned it has been shown that injuries are less likely to happen during mid-day because we are most alert and our body temperature is at its highest, so our muscles are warm and flexible. Also, according to research, body temperature is at its highest between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and at its lowest just before waking. You will find that your strength is the greatest in the afternoon. Studies show strength output and anaerobic performance, such as sprinting is 5% higher in the late afternoon, as well as endurance being approximately 4% higher around the same time of day.
I hope this helps some people to decide and stick to a plan of when they are going to get their workouts in. Remember, getting a small session in is better than nothing at all, and making a habit of breaking a sweat everyday could be the best thing you do for your longevity.