Best time of the day to workout?

MalcolmX

Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011
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Some extracts from this article by Mark Sisson..

Performance
If you're interested in performance, some evidence seems to point toward the afternoon and early evening as the best time to exercise. In one recent study, ten and eleven year old boys performed better in the afternoon than in the morning. Grip strength improved 5.9%, squat jump performance increased 3.5%, the “5 jump†test improved 5%, and performance increased 5.5% (peak) and 6% (mean) during the Wingate test (which measures peak anaerobic output) from morning to afternoon. They also tested the boys in mid afternoon (2:00 PM) and early evening (6:00 PM), but found no difference in performance. This study found a similar result in morning and afternoon PE students using the Wingate test, but the authors suggest that longer warmups during morning sessions could mitigate the performance deficit. So, morning workouts require longer warmups? I can buy that.

Sprinting? Try afternoons for maximal power, but don't think you'll have any extra stamina. This study found that maximal power was highest during the first three sprints (of ten total) in the afternoon when compared to morning sprints. Fatiguability was no greater, though.

Another cycling study found that afternoon power output was greater than morning power output in trained cyclists. Fatigue was not affected by time of day, however.

Another study compared the knee extensor strength (via the mighty half squat!) of two groups of trainees. The first group had spent 10 weeks training in the morning, while the second group had spent 10 weeks training in the evening. Both groups improved over baseline, but the evening trainees enjoyed greater strength gains.

I wouldn't assume that all exercise is better in the afternoon, however. The authors of this study suggest that submaximal exercise - like jogging, walking, hiking, or anything that relies on stamina and little else, really - is not negatively impacted by diurnal variation, which makes sense in light of the previous studies showing that while maximal power decreases in the morning, stamina does not.

Takeaway: Raw power and performance in weight lifting, cycling, and sprinting is highest in the afternoon and evening. Stamina does not increase or decrease, however, and the changes in performance may be mitigated by more extensive warmups. If you're a high level athlete or really interested in how you perform, afternoons and evenings are best. If you're just trying to get and/or stay fit, strong, and healthy, morning workouts are just fine.


Hormonal Effects
How does timing change how a workout affects your hormonal profile?

One study found that lifting heavy things in the evening, as opposed to the morning, resulted in a more anabolic (strength and size-building) testosterone/cortisol ratio. Baseline cortisol values were lower in the evening (which is normal) and higher in the morning (also normal; cortisol is necessary for morning wakefulness), which probably explains why evening training worked better. If you're starting with already elevated cortisol, some intense training is only going to spike it even more. If you're starting with moderate cortisol, intense training won't have as negative an effect and your testosterone levels will likely be sufficient to counteract the rising cortisol.

Not all research is so clear-cut, though. In a study on muscular hypertrophy (growth), both morning and afternoon weight-training worked equally well at growing muscles and increasing maximal strength. There was a slight, but statistically insignificant advantage to training at night.

Takeaway: Don't hop directly under the bar in your pajamas with bleary eyes. Take the time to wake up and relax before working out. That might mean pushing your morning fitness class to an afternoon session, or at least a late morning one. We know that cortisol is normally elevated in the mornings, and exercise increases cortisol, so be aware of how the two interact.
 

clan_NEt

Well-Known Member
4 Jun 2011
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The best time of the day for me, or rather the preferable time for workout would be around 4-6pm. But it's hard to workout consistently at that time :/
 

clan_NEt

Well-Known Member
4 Jun 2011
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Mornings is good because ure fresh and all.
I read that Hugh jackman hit the gym very early in the mornings when he was training for the xmen movies.
 

LLuDawg

Member
12 Nov 2011
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The best time of the day for me, or rather the preferable time for workout would be around 4-6pm. But it's hard to workout consistently at that time :/
Totally agree. I cannot workout in the mornings, it is just too tiring. I feel most energetic around dinnertime or later but then I am usually working or watching TV because that is when all the best shows are on! :p It is hard to start a workout but once you get into it you feel keep going!
 

soccerbai123

Member
22 Nov 2011
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For the people who follows the normal schedule, I would the best time would be morning. It keeps you hype up for your day.

Since my day and nights are reversed, I would just go for a jog after work,
 

Duffield1

New Member
22 Nov 2011
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Fitting exercise in around a busy schedule is the most challenging - I often think that if I won the lottery, I could afford not to work and then I'd be able to spend time in the gym or out on long, healthy walks.

For me, anytime you time without interruption is the time to work out - whether that is morning, noon or night!
 

Shawndellah

New Member
29 Nov 2011
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This is excellent information. I had no idea that the time of day for working out was important. Stopping to think about it -- does make sense.
 

mika

Member
3 Nov 2011
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I am also one of those who find it really hard to workout early in the morning.
I prefer to have workout late in the afternoon around 4pm to 6pm. And sometimes I also like to do some simple exercises before bed time at night to help me fall asleep faster.
 
7 Nov 2011
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I usually do brisk walking in the morning and evening after dinner. This is the only time I have for the day since I was also busy with other things particularly work. Yes, I heard that afternoon and evening are the best time to workout and fast to shed off pounds. Thanks for the information.
 

WAMZ

New Member
12 Dec 2011
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Wow, I always thought mornings were the best time to workout, especially while in the quest to lose weight. Something about working on an empty stomach. It's good I've read this piece, maybe now I can sleep-in like I've always wanted to. :)
 

roxanne_101

New Member
8 Dec 2011
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When I do have time to workout, it's usually in the evenings. I wish I could force myself to workout in the morning, but it's much too hard. I'm so cranky and groggy in the morning, I barely feel like working, let alone working out.