Obviously the topic of ‘best time to train’ is a bit loaded. But that goes for almost everything in health, fitness and working out.
What may be good for one person, might not be so good for another.
But I think this is an interesting topic, in relation to intermittent fasting and bodyweight training in general.
So, let’s get started…
For years, in fact, probably for most of my career in the fitness industry I thought I was an “afternoon person”.
In fact, I told myself I was the strongest when I trained in the afternoon, at around 4-5pm.
Now, I didn’t always train that way…
When I first went to Thailand to prepare for the North of England Karate Championship, I trained Thai boxing from 6am to 9am. And then again from 3 to 6pm. Every day of the week, for 4 months. It was brutal to say the least.
But I didn’t feel the morning and afternoon sessions were any different.
In fact, those morning training sessions were probably easier because my shins had the whole night to recover.
Whereas, having my shins beaten senseless from 6am to 9am, it felt they didn’t have enough time to recover before the 3pm session.
But in terms of weight training, I always “thought” I was strongest in the afternoons.
But I’m an evening person
We’ve all heard people say…“I’m a morning person”… “Oh, I’m an evening person” in relation to working and completing your best work.
But as an aside, I lived with someone for a while, who said he couldn’t get into the ‘creative groove’ to work until past midnight!
I think that was a pure excuse, but that’s a story for another time.
But in terms of fitness, when do you think you are in the best state to work out?
Is it when you first wake up?
In the afternoon?
We’re all different of course. And I read an article a few months back that talked about the science of being a morning person vs an evening person.
But to ensure this post doesn’t go on too long, let’s just stick to the best time for working out.
Is there an optimal time to train?
Of course, anyone in their right mind wants to get the most from every bead of sweat derived from their workout.
After all, we’re not doing this for kicks, right?
We’re doing it because we know working out makes us a better person. A healthier person. A man of substance. A man of strength and stamina.
And we know working out is one of the best, if not the best way to fight the aging process.
So, of course, if there really is an optimal time to train you wanna hear about it, right?
Well, the guys in white coats are trying to tell us that there really is a huge difference between morning and afternoon workouts.
The latest studies seem to be telling us that training at the same time every day has huge benefits.
So, let’s dive into the differences between working out in the morning and evening…
Benefits of morning workouts
It’s reported that guys who train in the morning are better at metabolizing sugar and fat during the day. Therefore, this will help you if your goal is losing weight and burning fat.
If you’ve got too much on your plate and stress is an issue for you, then you might want to try working out in the morning. This is because morning workouts will provide you with a boost of energy throughout the day and help relieve stress.
Plus, you’ll have more energy in the oven, because the day hasn’t beaten all the energy out of you yet.
Another point to think about is, studies tell us that aerobic capacity is about 60% higher in the morning than in the evening. But when it comes to resistance training the results aren’t as clear. Some studies show more improvement after morning routines and others show evening workouts are better.
Not exactly clear, right?
Another thing to consider relates to how busy your gym gets. If you train at a gym, mornings and lunchtimes should be way quieter than the mad 6pm-8pm rush.
I used to hate having to train at those times. Not only was that the peak busy time for the gym, but the traffic was the worst too.
Benefits of evening workouts
Some studies show a higher peak power and grip strength in the evening, but not sure how they worked that one out.
Depending on where you live of course…but it’s said that muscle temperatures reach their peak in the evening. This will help enhance performance, and reduce injury.
Plus, many people feel more relaxed about training in the evening because they’re not stressed about being late for work. But obviously, if you’re an entrepreneur and work for yourself, this shouldn’t be an issue anyway.
And if you’re working out at home, before your morning shower, then again, a non-issue.
Drawbacks of evening workouts
Besides the traffic and the busy gym, the biggest disadvantage of working out in the evening could be a lack of motivation after a hard day at the office or whatever your workplace.
If you’ve got a manual job, let’s say digging ditches, it would be a tough ask to then have to go work out for an hour.
Picking yourself up to train after a long and hard day at work requires grit and determination. Not impossible. Many guys with hard jobs train in the evening.
Plus, after a hard day grinding at work, you might just really want to get home see your family. Play with your kids before bed. So driving to the gym, training, and then driving back home eats up valuable ‘family time’.
Another great reason to work out at home perhaps.
The best time to train when fasting
If you’re trying intermittent fasting, I advise you to try working out just before you break your fast. If possible… I’ve been trying this for the last six months and I’m loving the results.
A question I get asked a lot is… “Can I Exercise While Fasting?
My answer is always, “yes, great idea.”
It is beneficial to work out while fasting because the key to weight loss and muscle gain is not just calories and training, but also hormone optimization.
The latest studies are showing intermittent fasting (IF) is great for losing fat. And when you add working out with IF, you’re going to see even better results.
When you join both together you will raise your growth hormone and make yourself more insulin sensitive, which is a key factor in fighting the aging process and getting lean.
This is the optimal way to boost your health and body composition.
Is it safe to work out on an empty stomach?
When you work out on an empty stomach, you’ll multiple the benefits of your workout and intermittent fasting. This is a multi-therapeutic approach. The synergy of two things that are individually health-promoting actually boost each other’s benefits to a level that surpasses the level of each combined.
The studies say a great time to train when doing intermittent fasting is when you get up. Or just after because this will support your body’s natural circadian rhythm. In comparison, working out too near your bedtime can interrupt levels of deep and REM sleep.
Personally, I usually get up between 6 and 7am. But I don’t feel ready to work out until 10am. It works for me. I’m not saying it’ll work for you. But remember at the start of this post I told you about always training in the afternoons.
But I’m actually loving training at 10am or lunchtime. And often again at 5pm. I usually break the workouts into two sessions of about 30 minutes each. This way I can increase the intensity, and sustain it for the full 30 minutes. Recharge in the afternoon, and then go again strong at 5pm.
I would never be able to hold the same intensity of two x 30 minute sessions in a full hour. Again, works for a 50 year old me. Try it and see how you go.
If you can train in the morning, try not to eat for two hours as this will increase your hormone optimization. And will also help you burn more fat.
Final thoughts on the best time to train…
Like I said at the start of this post, the topic of ‘best time to train’ is a bit loaded. The best time to train for you is when it fits in with your lifestyle and most likely your work schedule.
One thing to take away today is to test different workout times. If you’ve always worked out in the afternoons or evenings, try switching it up, and train in the mornings for 3 months. And see how you go.
You could make an effort to go to bed 30 minutes earlier, and get up 30 minutes earlier to work out before you start work.
Do whatever you need to do to maximize your time and get your training sessions in as often as you can.
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