Best Time of Day to Work Out

Best Time of Day to Work Out

One of the most common questions we get as personal trainers and health coaches is what time of day is the best time to work out? Many people think that there is some magical time of day – an optimal window – where burning calories is most efficient.

One of the most common questions we get as personal trainers and health coaches is what time of day is the best time to work out? Many people think that there is some magical time of day – an optimal window – where burning calories is most efficient.

In the past, it was thought that working out first thing in the morning was the best time to burn calories. There was a theory that “fasted” exercise tapped more into fat stores, so dedicated gym-goers would scurry to get their workouts in at 5 am so they could burn calories more efficiently. To this day, many body builders still believe in this technique and continue to practice it during their season to prep for shows.

However, there is very little evidence showing that fasted workouts, or morning workouts, burn any more calories or fat than working out later in the day does. It may apply slightly when you first begin your morning workouts, but the body is very adaptive. Soon, it will be ready for your morning workouts, and the slight increase in fat burning will begin to diminish and level out. In fact, morning workouts might actually hurt your efforts if you aren’t exactly a morning person.

The truth is, the best time of day to work out is what works for YOU and your body. We all have different times of day that work for us. Ask yourself when you have the most energy, and base your workouts on that. Are you energized as soon as you wake up? If so, then you will benefit from morning workouts. But if you’re more of a night owl, working out after work might be your better option.

There are many factors to be considered when determining what time of day is best for you to work out. All of us have natural biological clocks known as circadian rhythms. This system is responsible for our energy levels throughout the day. It’s what tells our brains that it’s time for bed, and when it’s time to wake up. Circadian rhythms are responsible for our body temperature throughout the day, our energy levels, our hormone balance, and our blood pressure. Even heart rate is tied to our circadian rhythms, and no one person is alike.

When considering what time of day works best for you, think about when your energy levels are the highest. When are you going to get the most bang for your calorie-burning-buck? When do you feel strongest? When are you most likely to stay consistent with fitting in your work out? Consider the location of your gym. When is it easiest for you to get there?

If you aren’t sure when you have the most exercise, you can try experimenting different times to see when you feel the best and most energized. Try working out first thing in the morning for a week. Notice how you feel before, during, and after your training session. If you absolutely dread waking up earlier, try working out in the afternoon (or during your lunch break) the next week. Again, notice how you feel before, during, and after your workout. Maybe you hate going back to work all sweaty, or you don’t have enough time to get everything in that you wanted to. If the afternoon doesn’t work for you, try evening workouts. Take note of the same criteria, and play around with before and after dinner. If you work out late, does it interfere with your sleep?

There are so many factors that go into what time of day is best for you to work out. There is very little scientific evidence suggesting that one time of day is best. And truly, your body doesn’t know what time it is! It just knows that it’s working out and using energy, which is the point of working out anyway. My professional advice is to find a time that works best for you and your schedule, and stick to it.

Allow for flexibility, because your schedule isn’t going to be the same for your entire life. The number one thing to pay attention to when scheduling your workouts is when you are most likely to stick to it. Consistency is key when trying to get fit and/or lose weight. There is no magical time, just the matter of frequency, duration, and intensity. That’s what matters, not the time on a clock.

Resources:

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/whats-the-best-time-to-exercise#2 https://www.cnn.com/2017/07/11/health/exercise-time-of-day-davis/index.html http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/When-is-the-best-time-of-day-to-work-out_UCM_438922_Article.jsp#.WqgApZPwa34

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