What Is The Best Time To Workout?

by Evelyn Valdez

Timing is everything. This is true for many things, even working out. Working out at any time of the day is beneficial, but there are certain times (morning and evening) that might help maximize results. Unfortunately, most people have extremely hectic schedules and already find it difficult to schedule the time to workout. But when you're committed to bettering your health and achieving certain goals - You make the time. 

So if you're committed then make the time to schedule your workouts accordingly, to fit your busy life and to help you get better results so you can achieve your fitness goals. We'll be discussing the advantages of morning and evening workouts to help you decide which one is better for you! 

When’s the best time to workout?

The best time to workout is whenever you can do it! But if we're talking in terms of when's the best time of day to workout in order to achieve certain fitness goals, then this question isn’t super simple.

It depends completely on what you want your body to do. For example, if you’re trying to build strong, toned muscle then you aren’t going to do the same exercises as someone who is trying to melt 10 pounds off of them for good. That’s because these two goals use completely different metabolic processes. Burning fat to lose weight is aerobic training, meaning that your cells need lots of oxygen during the process. Strength training, on the other hand, is anaerobic and does not require nearly as much oxygen. 

The different metabolic processes is what makes certain times better for certain goals. So here's your short answer: 

  • Morning workouts are typically better for those whose primary goal is weight loss and who focus more on cardiovascular exercises.
  • Evening workouts are typically better for those  whose primary goal is to build muscle and focus more on strength training. 

This doesn't really mean you have to workout out during these specific times to reach your goals. So if you want to lose weight, but can only schedule evening exercises that's fine! There are just certain advantages that morning and evening workouts have over the other. 

Advantages of Morning/Afternoon Workouts

Not everyone has the energy to wake up at the crack of dawn for an early morning workout, in fact, that's the last thing most people want to do when they wake up. But these advantages might just sway you into becoming an early bird... 

May help you burn more fat

Those whose primary goal is to lose weight and body fat tend to focus more on cardio exercises than weight lifting. If you're one of those people then you might want to consider doing your workout in the early morning or afternoon. 

Here's why... The key to fat burning is to have as little glycogen stored in your muscles. This allows your body to waste as much fat as possible as it gives you the energy you need for your workout. So the best time to burn fat is the morning, because your body has little to no glycogen in your muscles and can therefore start burning fat as soon as you start moving. Something to keep in mind is that once you do eat something for breakfast, your body will burn that for energy before it starts burning fat. So try to do your morning exercises before you’ve eaten!

Another reason as to why your body might burn fat more efficiently in the morning is because of your hormone levels! Anthony Hackney, a professor in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, explains this a little better. He says, “In the early morning hours, you have a hormonal profile that would predispose you to better metabolism of fat,” Hackney says. People naturally have elevated levels of cortisol and growth hormone in the morning—both of which are involved in metabolism—so you’ll “draw more of your energy from your fat reserves,”. Which can potentially lead to weight loss. 

May help you get better sleep

One of the main advantages morning workouts have over working out in the late afternoon or evening is that it can help you fall asleep easier which can result in better sleep overall.

Research shows that evening exercise can compromise sleep because of the increase in heart rate and body temperature. This can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. The same study shows that working out in the early morning helped individuals get more quality sleep than those who workout in the evening. [1]

In case you need to be reminded, quality sleep is needed for your body to recover and heal from your sweat sessions! So if you have trouble sleeping, try switching over to an earlier workout time - If your schedule permits it. Once you start and stay consistent, you'll build that habit and eventually turn into a morning person! 

Could help you be more productive and make better choices

Early morning sweat sessions can actually lead to better productivity throughout the day and could even lead to making healthier choices! But how is this possible? Well in the morning our cortisol levels tend to be higher which give your body the energy it needs to burn fat, but it also helps you feel more awake in the morning. Add a workout into the mix and you'll feel an increase in energy level throughout the day and in a better mood - Thanks to the release of endorphins from your workout. Essentially it helps you start your day with more energy and in a better mood to help you be more productive throughout the day. Plus you don't have to stress or worry about getting your workout done later in the evening. This can all help you focus and be more productive at work and/or school.

In addition, it can also help you make healthier choices throughout the day because subconsciously you'll want to build upon the healthy way you started the day.

It's also slightly easier to keep a morning fitness routine consistent. Usually after a full day's work your willpower is low and it can overpower your intentions to workout in the evening. In the morning, you simply get up, get ready, warm up, and by the time you have to get started working out you'll be fully awake and ready to crush it!

Advantages of Evening Workouts

The advantages of morning workouts are great, but if you can't fit a workout in the morning then don't sweat it! Here are a few reasons why late afternoon/evening workouts might be a better choice for you...

Better for muscle growth, strength, and stamina

Those who want to build muscle and strength tend to focus more on strength training and lifting weights than cardio. If you're one of those people then you might want to consider scheduling your lift session in the evening. 

The main idea of lifting for muscle mass or strength is that you want to have your muscles full of glycogen (fast energy) and not have your muscles waiting for your body to burn fat (slow energy). This makes mornings a rough time to lift, especially if you haven’t eaten anything before, because after waking up your body is all out of glycogen in the muscles. You’ll need to take in some fast carbs to restore your glycogen deposits. 

This is why the best time to lift is in the afternoon or early evening. You've already had one or two meals so your body has plenty of quick energy ready for us. Now, if you love lifting in the morning, or can’t squeeze it in at another time, then don’t worry. There is a way around this whole glycogen problem. Many people take ¼ or ⅓ of a scoop of mass gainer right when they wake up in the morning, so they can have the energy to hit it hard and start seeing results. Just keep in mind that even if you drink some mass gainer before, you’ll still need to have a big breakfast afterwards to give your body the calories it needs.

Aside from that, hormone levels play a role in this too! Testosterone is important for muscle growth, strength, and stamina and research shows that our bodies may produce more testosterone in the late afternoon when resistance training opposed to training in the morning. [2]

Improved exercise performance

Aside from helping your body build muscle and strength more efficiently, evening workouts can also help you perform better! Studies show that your body's ability to perform is better in the afternoon. This is because your body temperature increases throughout the day which optimizes your muscle function and strength, enzyme activity, and endurance. [3] They say that between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. is the most effective time of day to workout since your body temperature is at its highest. 

Additionally, your body is already warmed up so you can spend more time focusing on the actual workout! You should still include a dynamic warm up in your routine to fully prepare your muscles for the heavy weights it will be lifting, but it'll still be a shorter amount of time spent than warming up for a workout in the morning!  Working out in the morning, straight out of bed, requires extra time to properly warm up cold and stiff muscles. 

May help you have a better reaction time

Those who like doing high-intensity workouts like HIIT, or other fast paced workouts, might want to start setting up a late afternoon workout routine. These types of workouts require you to think and move quickly - Have a quick reaction time. Well studies show that reaction time is fastest in the afternoon. Not only that, but it's also the time of day when your heart rate and blood pressure are lowest which can help decrease the chance of injury while performing. [4] 

So let's sum everything up...

If your main goal is to lose weight, go do some cardio in the morning on an empty stomach for best results - And better sleep and productivity. Just remember to warm up properly to minimize the risk of injury!

If your main goal is to gain muscle and get stronger, go lift in the afternoon or early evening. Just make sure it’s late enough to where you have some food in your system, but early enough that it doesn’t keep you from getting a good night’s rest!

And if you are unable to schedule your workouts during these times then don't stress! At the end of the day, the best time to workout depends on you. There are certain advantages of working out in the morning, just as there are advantages of working out in the evening... But at the end of the day the most important thing is that you workout. If you still want a way to maximize your workouts and get better results then do this... Pick a time that works best for you, and be consistent with it. In fact, one particular study shows that people who workout consistently at the same time of day see better results, regardless of the time they chose to workout! [5] 

Hope this helps, and if you need something else that will help maximize your workouts check out our UPPPER gear 😉

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published