Let's say you're starting a new fitness routine. You plan, build a schedule, and make sure you're all set up for success ... but wait, there's one big hang up. You wonder: "When is the best time to work out?"
Should you wake up early to work out, or go to the gym at the end of your day? Which one is best?
Well, it depends. There are a lot of factors to look at when it comes to determining what time is "best" for your workouts.
Plus, for many people, the hardest part is finding the right time to work out. The truth is, the "best time to work out" is almost entirely up to your opinion.
However, let's look at a few of the benefits of training in the morning, and some of the benefits of training in the evening.
From there, I'll let you decide what the best time to work out is for you!
Benefits of Working Out In The Morning
Are there advantages to working out in the morning vs the evening? Believe it or not, there are. Let's talk about some of these benefits...
1. Less Time Commitments
For most people, our evenings are a lot more chaotic than our mornings. It could be kids, your spouse, or even just daily responsibilities that crowd up your evenings. But, no matter what it is, these things can pull us from adhering to a normal workout routine.
That's why the morning workouts can be a lot easier from a routine and adherence standpoint. If you're waking up at the crack of dawn, or even before that, who's going to bug you? What's going to get in the way?
The answer is probably a lot less than what could sidetrack you in the evenings. But, what else makes mornings more ideal?
2. Prime Your Mind For the Day
Breaking a sweat in the morning may just be exactly what you need to prime yourself for a productive day. Trust me, I'm not making this up...
Morning exercise has been shown to increase overall energy (1, 2), mood (3), and focus. One study (4) found that morning exercise has a positive effect on working memory, attention, and focus.
What better way to start your day on a productive foot than by working out first thing?
3. You Start Your Day With a Win
I get it ... we all have busy schedules full of different tasks. I also know how defeating it can be to get to the mid-day mark and feel like we haven't accomplished anything.
That's why I personally believe that getting in a workout first thing in the morning can start the day off with a big win. Morning gym sessions can be just the thing to help get some positive momentum rolling for your day.
Now ... those are some awesome benefits, but let's look at the benefits of evening workouts...
The Benefits of Working Out in the Evening
Now on the flip side, there are also a lot of benefits of training in the evening. You may want to consider these benefits as well before jumping to any conclusions...
1. You’re Already Primed and Ready to Train
One of the most difficult parts about working out in the morning is getting going! Think about it ... you can be tired, muscles can be cold and stiff, and you don't have much fuel in your body. In the evening though, you are more likely to be awake, loose, and adequately fueled to perform.
Because of this, a lot of people just feel stronger and more alert in their evening workouts. That actually leads me into my next point...
2. Better Performance
One major benefit to training in the evening is a potential increase in performance. Several studies (5) show increased performance in the evening compared to morning workout sessions.
If performance is your goal, and you don't have the "oomph" you need in the morning ... you may want to try working out in the evening.
3. You May Build More Muscle
If building muscle is your main goal, then evening workouts may be a bit more advantageous to your goals. Research suggests that individuals who train in the evening can build more muscle mass (6,7).
A lot of this has to do with the point we talked about earlier. Having more calories and warm muscles can create a better environment for hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Find What Works for You
At the end of the day, the best workout routine is the one you can stay consistent with. If you are someone who just can't get into the right mindset to work out in the morning ... try working out in the evening!
If you're someone who skips evening workouts because of all the obligations you have at night ... try working out in the morning.
Regardless of when you choose to work out, your body will adapt. In fact, there's data that supports that your circadian rhythm can adapt due to physical activity (8).
The most important thing is that you show up consistently and put in the work.
If you need any help with your workouts, nutrition, or goals in general ... download the 1st Phorm App! The app is the ultimate all-in-one tool for your health and fitness.
Inside the 1st Phorm App, you'll get features such as custom workout programs for your goals, 1-on-1 messaging with your own personal advisor, educational videos and live streams, progress tracking, nutrition tracking, and much more.
Start chasing your goals today! If there's ever anything we can do to help out, don't be a stranger. Just shoot us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 anytime!
(1) Ward-Ritacco CL, Adrian AL, O'Connor PJ, Binkowski JA, Rogers LQ, Johnson MA, Evans EM. Feelings of energy are associated with physical activity and sleep quality, but not adiposity, in middle-aged postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2015 Mar;22(3):304-11. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000315. PMID: 25137245.
(2) Ellingson LD, Kuffel AE, Vack NJ, Cook DB. Active and sedentary behaviors influence feelings of energy and fatigue in women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Jan;46(1):192-200. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a036ab. PMID: 23783259.
(3) Basso JC, Suzuki WA. The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review. Brain Plast. 2017 Mar 28;2(2):127-152. doi: 10.3233/BPL-160040. PMID: 29765853; PMCID: PMC5928534.
(4) Wheeler MJ, Green DJ, Ellis KA, et alDistinct effects of acute exercise and breaks in sitting on working memory and executive function in older adults: a three-arm, randomised cross-over trial to evaluate the effects of exercise with and without breaks in sitting on cognitionBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2020;54:776-781.
(5) Mirizio GG, Nunes RSM, Vargas DA, Foster C, Vieira E. Time-of-Day Effects on Short-Duration Maximal Exercise Performance. Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 11;10(1):9485. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-66342-w. PMID: 32528038; PMCID: PMC7289891.
(6) Küüsmaa M, Schumann M, Sedliak M, Kraemer WJ, Newton RU, Malinen JP, Nyman K, Häkkinen A, Häkkinen K. Effects of morning versus evening combined strength and endurance training on physical performance, muscle hypertrophy, and serum hormone concentrations. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 Dec;41(12):1285-1294. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0271. PMID: 27863207.
(7) Milan Sedliak, Michal Zeman, Gabriel Buzgó, Ján Cvečka, Dušan Hamar, Eugen Laczo, Aurel Zelko, Monika Okuliarová, Truls Raastad, Tormod S. Nilsen, Heikki Kyröläinen, Keijo Häkkinen, Juha P. Ahtiainen & Juha J. Hulmi (2013) Effects of time of day on resistance exercise-induced anabolic signaling in skeletal muscle, Biological Rhythm Research, 44:5, 756-770, DOI: 10.1080/09291016.2012.740314
(8) Youngstedt, S.D., Elliott, J.A. and Kripke, D.F. (2019), Human circadian phase–response curves for exercise. J Physiol, 597: 2253-2268. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP276943