When should I workout? Morning or Night?
I’m sure you’ve talked to the gym guru that tells you exactly how and when you should exercise, or you’ve read the magazine that says the wrong move may be fatal. When it comes down to what time of day you should be hitting the gym, there are too many opinions and conflicting ideas.
The truth? There really isn’t a clear answer, and research supports that there are benefits for both morning and night exercising. The answer to the question “Should I workout in the morning or at night?” will depend on your personal goals and what you’re trying to do.
There are clear benefits to pumping iron in the morning, most of which support weight-loss. Morning gym sessions require a little extra prep such as a good dinner the night before, a more gradual warm-up, and even a good night’s rest. Starting early in the morning will give you a boost of energy for the rest of the day, and many ultra-productive individuals, such as Tony Robbins, swear that morning exercise has changed their lives. Other than productivity, morning workouts kick start your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day, i.e. weight loss.
A 2010 study from NCBI found that people who exercised while fasting, or before eating breakfast, burned more fat instead of having their body utilize stored carbohydrates for energy. People were also more likely to choose healthier options when they did get around to eating post-workout. Even getting enough daylight, especially early in the morning, has been linked to better sleep, a time in which your muscles recover the most. This is because when your body rises with the sun, you’re helping to set your internal clock. On the other hand, when the sun goes down, your body will want to rest, too — it’s a natural sign to your body to power down. This may also be linked to the added benefit lower blood pressure from morning exercise, found in a study by Appalachian State University.
Apart from health benefits of getting your workout out of the way early, you’ve freed up your afternoon for all the good times life has to offer.
Evening exercise, however, has clear benefits as well, many of which are linked to gaining more muscle. A body that has been active all day needs a shorter warm-up, giving you more time to get down to business. Not to mention, it has been shown that your body is 20% more flexible in the afternoon, for obvious reasons. You also get to sleep a little more, which means you will potentially be more rested and ready for an intense workout, as well as having been fueling up all day (breakfast and lunch). Around 2 to 6 pm you have more energy naturally due to increased testosterone levels, depending on when you wake up.
For those of us who have a day full of hard work and stress, late workouts have the incredible ability to reduce stress which will help you wind down (without that extra glass of wine,) and will inevitably lead to better sleep. Did you know that protein synthesis peaks in the evening? What is protein synthesis? Basically, it means building muscle. The University of Chicago found that muscle building peaked in the evening, not to mention that most people tended to have more intense workouts later in the day. Athletes from Tunisian soccer players to speed swimmers have been shown to hit their peak or fastest times in the early evening, around 2 to 5 pm.
So what is best for you? No one knows. Really what it comes down to is what are you trying to do, when do you feel most productive, and what time best fits your schedule. Now stop reading this and hit the gym morning or night!