By Martin Ebner
The time of day we exercise is very rarely something people consider when beginning any sort of exercise program. People exercise when it is convenient for them and rightly so. However, if you're serious about sustainability and optimised results, it could be worth taking a look at not only how you workout, but also when.
Let's look at the pros of both morning and evening workouts.
Pros of morning workouts
Better for muscle building - testosterone is key for muscle building and repair. As testosterone peaks around 8am and diminishes throughout the day, your best bet for building bulging biceps is with morning workouts.
Better for fat loss - working out early and before your body has had a chance to process any food will active your body's fat burning mode, utilising fat cells as energy to power you through your workouts.
Boost your mood - exercise increases serotonin levels. By exercising first thing in the morning you can improve your mood significantly for the rest of the day.
Avoid the crowds - there's nothing worse than arriving at the gym to find it overflowing with baboons. By working out at sunrise, you will have more freedom to move around the gym with little to no interruption. It's also great if you are new to exercise and aren't confident working out and trying new exercises in front of a crowd.
Related article: Gym etiquette
Increase energy - getting in a good workout first thing will boost your energy levels for the rest of the day.
Better sleep - A 2011 study from health researchers at Appalachian state university found that perhaps, counterintuitive, exercising in the morning can improve your chances of a good nights sleep.
Easier to stick to a routine - There are far fewer temptations first thing in the morning. If you have a tendency to always say yes to happy hour. Get your workout done and out of the way. This will allow you to indulge in a few post work pints guilt free.
Healthy habit domino effect - Starting your day off with a workout will put in effect what i like to call, the healthy habit domino effect. Every decision that follows your workout will be a conscious one. Fancy a donut? Naaaa, it'll have an apple instead!
Pros of Evening workouts
Less risk of injury - evening exercisers have a lower risk of injury and 20% better flexibility. By working out later in the day, you allow your body plenty of time to warm up naturally.
Hit the snooze button - by leaving your workout till later in the day, you're mornings will be more relaxed. Go on, hit the snooze button!
Less rush - often the problem with morning workouts is time restriction. If you're constantly having to cut short your workouts because of time restraints, this can be both stressful and detrimental to achieving your fitness goals. If this is the case, hit the snooze button and visit the gym after work. This way you can relax and enjoy your workout without having to keep an eye on the clock.
Blow off steam at the after a tough work day - work can be extremely stressful and frustrating. Use your workouts to blow off some steam.
Fuel up for more powerful workouts - unlike morning workouts that often done on an empty tank, you can take advantage of the day to fuel your body with everything it needs to crush a gruelling workout.
Better for endurance - if endurance training is what you're after, leave it till the evening. Your lungs are at peak efficiency later in the day allowing you to go further, faster for longer.
There are many benefits to both morning and evening workouts. The most important thing when deciding when to exercise is to be realistic. Find a workout schedule that works best for you and stick with it. Good luck, now go get a sweat on!!