Staying committed to a regular gym routine is hard. Tackling fatigue, family and work don’t make it any easier. It may seem counterintuitive to get out of bed earlier when you are tired, or to go after work when you feel mentally drained. Just how are we meant to be maximising our workouts when we can barely keep our eyes open?
Some fitness experts have explained the best time of day to exercise and to maximise your efforts while you do. So read on to see when is the best time of day to work out.
Morning or evening?
Most people are not weighing up their health benefits when deciding when to go to the gym. It’s usually a case of fitting a workout around other scheduled commitments. But is this the best way to do it?
Personal trainer and instructor, Banafsheh Hassanzadeh, says: “The best time to work out is the time you can stick to. The time you know you can make it to the gym without making excuses, without having to cancel, and without being too tired to perform at your best.”
It seems that working out should be preference based on your knowledge of your body and lifestyle, rather than a specific time for everyone. This will help obtain better results.
Does science support one or the other?
Deputy Head of Education at Ultimate Performance Fitness ,Jonathan Taylor, says: “There is no conclusive evidence that shows there is a universal best time to train. It all comes down to the individual. “There does not appear to be any significant difference in health benefits between training in the morning or at night.”
What are the benefits of a morning workout?
If you are can’t decide whether to hit the gym in the morning or the evening, it might be worth considering the benefits of setting that alarm a little earlier.
Hassanzadeh says: “One of the reasons why people suggest getting it done in the morning is to avoid distractions getting in the way. From late nights in the office, to evening plans, and general weakening of willpower leading to skipped workouts in the evening. Getting it done early avoids over thinking your gym session for the rest of the day.”
In addition to getting it out of the way earlier, Hassanzadeh also says it can affect your sleep routine working out in the evening: “If you have difficulty getting to sleep at night you may prefer to do cardio workouts in the morning. The boost in temperature that comes with strenuous physical activity may make it more difficult to get to sleep.”
“This will not apply to every individual so if you don’t have trouble getting to sleep there is really no need to change your routine.”
How to properly fuel a morning workout?
If you have committed to getting up earlier but aren’t sure of what to put in your stomach for fuel then think realistically. Hassanzadeh says: “Realistically, you’re probably not going to wake up early to eat a balanced breakfast before your 6.30am spin class.”
“If you can’t stomach a full breakfast before your workout your best option is to have a small snack 30 minutes before and refuel properly after your session. It is okay to workout on an empty stomach if it works for you, it if doesn’t impact your performance, and if you don’t have low blood sugar levels.” Having some peanut butter or a banana before an early workout is all you need. Prepare some overnight oats to have ready for when you finish.
And what about coffee?
Its best to get the gym when you’re feeling your best. For some this means having a cup of coffee, and for others it doesn’t. If you can then it’s best to limit stimulants like caffeine can bring on an energy crash later on.
What are the benefits of an evening workout?
At the end of the day many people feel exhausted by work. However, Hassanzadeh says: “This may give you longer to fuel your body for a tougher workout and can often be a great way to release stress after a particularly busy day.”
A lack of sleep due to setting the alarm very early may increase your cortisol levels which may actually make you gain weight. So, if you need to wake up at 5am to train then you may not be doing yourself a favour. Make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep.
How should I fuel my evening workout?
Hassanzadeh says: “If you’re exercising after work either have a snack 30-60 minutes before you hit the gym or a balanced meal 2-3 hours prior. You want to make sure you have enough energy without feeling lethargic or nauseous. And, of course, drinking water before, during and after is very important.
Should I change the time I exercise?
Overall, according to experts, there is not enough of a reason to change the routine you already have. Being realistic about balancing your workout schedule to other commitments is the most important. The key is making your fitness program sustainable.