What Is The Best Time To Workout?

If you could give your body an edge, burn more calories, and get more health benefits simply by working out at the perfect time, you probably would, right? Some people swear by a 6 a.m. exercise session to their hearts racing and psyched up for the day. Others wouldn't dream of breaking a sweat before noon, preferring a late afternoon or evening workout. So, when is the best time to workout – morning, afternoon, or evening?

Unfortunately, that perfect time isn’t so clear-cut. There's no reliable evidence to suggest that calories are burned more efficiently at certain times of day. However, the time of day can influence how you feel when exercising – which can impact how likely you are to make exercising a habit.

Here are some tips to help you determine the best time for you to workout:

1. Schedule Your Workouts

The goal here is to establish exercise as a habit. Whether you choose morning, lunchtime, or after work to exercise, make it part of your routine. Unless you’re injured, sick, or overtrained, exercising is better than not exercising. Schedule your workout when you have the best chance of getting it done.

2. Experiment

If you're committed to working out at the time it is scheduled (this takes discipline), then you can experiment with working out at different times of the day. Work out in the morning for a few weeks, then try noon, then early evening. Which do you enjoy most and which makes you feel best afterward? Find a time that helps you make exercise a regular, consistent part of your life.

3. Listen to Your Gut

There are certain peaks of the day where you'll have a slight physiological advantage if you workout during them. However, nothing trumps the psychological edge you have when you feel like exercising. As simple as it sounds, effort equals results more than any other factor. This means, if you're a night owl, then workout at night. Morning person? Workout first thing in the morning. Any time you're in the mood to really "bring it," mentally and physically, is a great time to exercise. The closer you get to putting in 100% effort, the more you force your body into an adaptive state, which is exactly where it needs to be in order to change.

4. Sleep and Recovery are King

Unless it is really the only time you will work out or the only time you feel the best, you should avoid working out immediately before bed. Exercising too closely to bedtime sabotages your body's urge to sleep. This isn’t ideal because sleep is very important for recovery. It’s when your body naturally produces most of its own performance-enhancing drugs in the form of hormones. Anything that hurts your ability to sleep should be eliminated if possible.

Exercise utilizes a lot of nutrients which are further depleted at night. If you're on a strict diet (perhaps trying to lose weight), you run additional risk by working out prior to bed and then not eating to recover from your training session. If you plan to train hard at night, you should have a recovery shake at a minimum before going to sleep.

Takeaway

Everyone responds differently to exercise – that's the bottom line. We all need to move more and most us can eat better. There is a lot of room in between activity and nutrition for individual variables. Exercise consitently and pay close attention to your performance. Then choose your preferred workout time based on your results. It’s really that simple.

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