Early risers, weekend warriors, after- work late night gym closers. With busy schedules and jam-packed weekends often the most challenging piece of the puzzle is finding time to workout.
For some individuals, they love to wake up and move their body, for others that 5 am alarm clock is the last thing they want to hear. So when is the best time to workout? The truth is, whatever fits your schedule best. At whatever time you can consistently move your body each day; just with anything, though, each time has its pros and cons. So let’s break this down.
Great for the early bird and often a time that is most easily attainable for consistency as long as you can wake up for your alarm. Hitting the gym in the morning hours can feel amazing for breaking a sweat not to mention short intense workouts help illicit EPOC (Excess Post- Exercise Oxygen Consumption) helping you burn more calories for the rest of the day! Some cons of the early bird workouts, however, are sacrificing energy and strength. This especially goes for that 5 am crew.
The fact is, if you’re hitting the gym half asleep with little to no fuel in your body (Especially if you ate an early dinner the night before) you’re body will have less energy to work with and could potentially hinder your results. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism stated that “When moderate endurance exercise is done to lose body fat, fasting before exercise does not enhance lipid utilization; rather, physical activity after a light meal is advisable.” (1) This means that when partaking in endurance based exercise, performing this type of an activity in the fasted stated does not equal an increase in burning fat. If you've been forcing yourself to wake up at the crack of dawn to train, it's okay to re-assess if this is the optimal approach to leaning out or if it is better to crush some carbs before you break a sweat.
Getting your daily movement in during the afternoon is an awesome way to split up your day and transition from the workday to home life. Not only are you warm and awake but you’re likely able to go attend more classes and use other gym amenities that aren’t available during other hours.
Some cons, however, could be falling into the “Too tired after work trap,” which makes it extremely easy to head straight home rather than drive to the gym. The best way to avoid this situation is to first make a plan. Sign up for a class or book a session with your accountability partner, but also be sure you have everything on hand and ready to go to align habits in your favor. Maybe this is changing into your gym clothes before you leave work, or having a small meal later in the day to boost your energy. It should be noticed this tends to be the “Busiest” time at gyms and studios so if you are looking for a more quiet environment you may want to reconsider this timeframe.
The evening is an interesting part of the day, not suitable for just anyone. You see this is where you risk the day possibly cutting into your movement time. Maybe work runs late, you had multiple stressful meetings. Some great benefits to working out in the later hours of the day are that the gym/studio tends to calm down again, it is an awesome way to finish your day with some “You” time, de-stress, and get those endorphins running.
Some negatives to this timeframe include how common it is for individuals to have trouble winding down and heading to sleep shortly after their sweat. This could affect both their sleep quality and quantity and creates extra long days. There may not be as many classes or amenities offered as the day winds down depending on the facility you attend, and you may honestly just feel too tired by the end of the day, leaving you relying on willpower. From what I have seen in my years as a gym-goer and personal trainer, you either are an evening exerciser or you are not. You’ll likely know if this time of the day best suits your lifestyle.
All in all, the time you exercise comes down to the whichever part of the day fits your schedule best and aligns with your goals. If you feel best working out in the early hours of the day and are seeing your desired results, go for it! If it’s the evening hours, you do you.
Four questions to ask yourself to find your ideal exercise time!
What is your favorite part of the day to workout? Comment below and let me know! I’m a morning person myself.