Is there really a best time of day to exercise? Are you going to get in shape faster if you train in the morning or the evening?
As a rule-of-thumb, most people feel stronger in the afternoon or evening than they do in the morning.
And that’s what most research has found; muscle strength is at a low point in the morning and gradually improves until it reaches a high point in the early evening.
Peak performances normally occur in the late afternoon and early evenings, when your body temperature is highest.
There is also research out there showing a slightly faster rate of muscle growth with evening rather than morning training sessions.
Scientists based at Finland’s University of Jyväskylä, for example, report that more muscle was built when training was performed in the evening versus the morning.
If you have the luxury of being able to train at whatever time of day was “optimal” for building muscle, it would probably be the late afternoon or early evening. However, most people aren’t in that position.
The Best Time of Day to Exercise
Ultimately, the best time of day to exercise is the time of day that works for you and fits your schedule.
“There is no reason to split hairs over fluctuations in body temperature, testosterone, and pain tolerance at different times in the day,” says trainer and boxing coach Ross Enamait.
“No one is weak or overweight because they are exercising at the wrong time. The body can adapt to almost anything, and that includes exercising at various times.”
Personally, I’ve trained at virtually every hour of the day.
Back when I was studying at University and working a full-time job at the same time, I would often train in my garage gym at around midnight, simply because that was the only time I could fit it in.
However, I much prefer to get it done and out of the way in the morning.
Even though I feel slightly weaker at this time of day, the benefits of morning exercise (for me, anyway) far outweigh the downsides.
Firstly, the gym is quieter, so I don’t have to wait around to use the equipment.
Morning exercise also gives me more energy and brightens my mood for the rest of the day.
I certainly don’t think of myself as a morning person.
The fact that I prefer to train early in the day doesn’t mean that I’m one of those “eager beavers” who wakes up with a smile on his face and a spring in his step, ready and raring to go.
Morning workouts have simply become a habit that has developed over a period of many years.
In the end, hard work and consistency is far more important than matching your circadian rhythms to your workout schedule, or setting records every time you train.
Finding the best time of day to exercise is as much about personal preference as it is physiology.
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