I used to believe for the longest time that afternoon workouts were the best. Period.
They’re not in the morning (because who likes waking up to exercise) and they’re not after work, when all you want to do is put your legs up and relax.
Little did I know, the best time of day depends on the person.
Put those legs up and relax because for the next 5 minutes, we’ll figure out the best time of day to workout, based on your specific goals.
Early Bird Guts The Worm
Normally, if you’re bodybuilding or conditioning your body, morning workouts aren’t ideal because your body is cold and your stomach is empty.
Instead, morning workouts are more know for their psychological benefits. Great for anyone trying to establish a routine and “start the day off right”.
They will leave you more energetic throughout the day and improve your mood, making you more optimistic and happier.
Furthermore, Robyn Whalen from Total Wellness explains that, “morning workouts lower blood pressure and reduce stress, according to studies.”
Lastly, and most likely the main reason you’re here…
…morning workouts are most ideal for weight loss. Sports Science Professor Anthony Hackney explains, “people naturally have elevated levels of cortisol and growth hormone in the morning—both of which are involved in metabolism.”
I know it sucks, but any struggle is worth it for our goals. Am I right?
Insert Afternoon Saying Here
Afternoon workouts are the most common and for good reason.
Ever notice how packed the gym is around 4-7 PM? It’s after work which makes it the most convenient time of day to workout.
Also, after eating one of two meals and naturally warming your body up, an afternoon workout is best for anyone primarily concerned with performance.
This includes, bodybuilding, strength training, crossfit etc.
That’s not to say some prefer morning or evening workouts. Remember, more important than when is if or not you’ll stick to it.
Ready for the weird part?
One study done in 2018 even suggests that our bodies burn about 10% more calories in the afternoon, than any other time during the day.
This study was done on individuals who were at rest, but still, we’re talking on average 130 more calories burned in the afternoon.
That’s a statistic worth experimenting with!
Night Owls Unite!
I’m sure you’ve heard the myth that evening workouts disrupt sleep afterwards.
A myth, is all it is.
“As long as you’re not exercising, showering and then [immediately] jumping in bed to go to sleep, it doesn’t interfere with your sleep pattern at all,” explains Hackney.
While evening workouts have the least health benefits when compared to morning and afternoon, it’s a great time relieve some stress and go beast-mode, if you will.
With only sleep awaiting you, you’ll push yourself harder and longer.
As an evening workout kind of guy, I can definitely confirm this.
In addition, a paper published by the journal Experimental Psychology, found that evening workouts can reduce the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which in the long run, could aid your weight loss journey.
Great for anyone dieting.
Once again, the most important question to ask yourself is:
“Can I keep this up for a long time?”
Pick the time of day that works best for you and most importantly, stick to it!
As for implementing all three, I’d advise against it because just like with our sleep schedules, changing it around can be be detrimental to your health.
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- Peirano, Julie. “The Surprising Benefits of Exercising at Night.” Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 25 Sept. 2017, http://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/benefits-exercising-night.html/.
- Ducharme, Jamie. “This Is the Best Time of Day to Work Out, According to Science.” Time, Time, 27 Feb. 2019, time.com/5533388/best-time-to-exercise/.
- Ducharme, Jamie. “Here’s When Your Body Burns the Most Calories.” Time, Time, 8 Nov. 2018, time.com/5448140/burn-the-most-calories/.