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For the most part, people have to either work out in the morning (prior to school or work) or in the evening (after school or work). However, is one preferable to the other? Is there really a best time of day to workout? Below is a discussion of variables that apply to training in the morning vs the evening, why morning and evening aren’t necessarily always “morning” and “evening”, followed up by what might be the most important factor when considering the best time of day to workout for you.
You’ve probably heard of circadian rhythm before – it’s your body’s inner biological clock. When you feel certain ways at certain parts of the day (especially as it pertains to sleep), that’s your circadian rhythm. As it turns out, research at Northwestern University in Chicago shows your muscles have their own circadian rhythm, too.
This means there is definitely something to the idea that there is a best time to workout…meaning that all other things being equal, training at particular times of day will elicit a better training response. However, is morning better or is evening better?
Here is a list of various bullet points that show where working out in the morning is better:
In contrast to the above, here is a list of why the evening could be considered the best time of day to workout:
Everything above has assumed that “morning” equates to when the sun comes up, while “evening” is around when the sun goes down. However, this isn’t always the case. Most people work, go to school, run errands, and in general live during the day (i.e. – daylight hours) and sleep at night (i.e. – when it’s dark).
However, for those who work at night and sleep during the day, this is now the opposite for them. Their “morning” may actually be in the late afternoon when they get up, while their “evening” is not long after the sun comes up, but they’re finally getting home and are ready to go to bed.
All the bullet points above are in relation to circadian rhythm, which is dictated mostly by your sleep clock. So be sure to take that into account if you don’t sleep, work, or live on the same “normal” schedule most people do.
Though there are various reasons pointing to both morning and evening as the best time of day to workout, there is one main common sense thing you should always put first – the time of day you’re most likely to actually train.
Consistency is critical to making gym gains, so pick the time of day that you know you have the greatest chance of actually sticking with. If after reading the above, you’re convinced that training in the morning is a “better” idea, but you’ve never been a morning person your entire life, there’s a good chance that’s not changing. Stick with whatever is going to mean you’re getting in the gym the most often.
When you do that, your workout completion will become a regular constant, which can be more important than choosing what you feel might be the best time of day to workout. However, if you feel like you could easily make morning or evening work, check out the above, determine which list of benefits appeals more to you and your training program, then stick with that.