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The Best Time To Workout

The Best Time To Workout

Working out, lifting, training, or whatever you choose to call it is an essential part of many people's lives, and the hour at which you decide to lace up your shoes and break a sweat can profoundly affect the result of your fitness regimen.


In this in-depth exploration, we'll uncover the intricacies of workout timing and how it can be leveraged to optimize your routine, boost GAINS, and align with the natural rhythms of your body.


Understanding Your Body Clock for Maximum Impact

Our bodies operate on an internal timekeeper, known as the circadian rhythm, that regulates our sleep-wake cycles and other physiological processes. For fitness enthusiasts, this means that your performance may peak and ebb at different points in the day. Each person's clock can vary slightly, but generally, the circadian rhythm has several key phases:


  • The early waking hours are marked by a rise in body temperature and cortisol, making this time ideal for endurance activities.
  • The late morning sees better hand-eye coordination, which can be beneficial for team sports.
  • In the afternoon, muscle strength and flexibility are at their peak, lowering the risk of injury during intense workouts.
  • The early evening is when pulmonary function is at its best, making vigorous exercise less taxing on the system.


Understanding your chronotype, or natural circadian preference, can help you schedule your workouts for the time of day when you’re most alert and active. This self-awareness can lead to more efficient workouts and better overall fitness.


The Advantages of Morning Workouts

For the early bird, morning exercise offers many substantial advantages. Working out before the day's demands start piling up can boost your energy levels, improve your mood, and set a healthy tone for the rest of the day. Additionally, fasted morning cardio has been associated with increased fat oxidation, which is a key part of many weight loss goals. To capitalize on morning workouts, consider these strategies:


  • Rise Properly: The morning starts not with the workout, but with the quality of your sleep. Ensure that you have a consistent sleep schedule that allows for 7-9 hours of rest.
  • Hydrate First: Drinking water before a morning workout can help rehydrate your body and kickstart your metabolism.
  • Eat Smart: A light, easily digestible snack like a banana or a yogurt can provide the fuel necessary for your workout without causing discomfort.


Afternoon Workouts and Productivity

The afternoon slump is a real phenomenon, but it's not one that a good workout can't fix. Afternoon exercise can revitalize you, leading to a more productive workday. It also provides an energy boost just when you might be reaching for a second cup of coffee. If you're considering afternoon workouts, here's how to make them work with your schedule:


  • Lunch Hour Lifts: If you can, slip a workout into your lunch hour. Gyms often have shorter lines or hold midday classes that cater to a tight schedule.
  • Small Wins: If a full workout isn't feasible, aim for several small, high-intensity workouts throughout the day, known as 'exercise snacks.'
  • Pre-Work Ritual: Pre-plan your workout, lay out your gear, and mentally prepare to avoid the temptation to skip it in favor of unwinding at home.


Evening Workouts for Stress Reduction

Hitting the gym after work or in the late evening is a cherished time for many as it’s a great way to unwind from the day's pressures and wind down in preparation for sleep. Evening workouts can also deliver significant stress relief, thanks to the endorphins and the built-up tension that can be released through physical activity. Despite the stress-relieving benefits, there are also considerations to observe when working out in the evening:


  • Sleep Architecture: Vigorous workouts can lead to increased alertness that might interfere with sleep. Tailor your evening workouts so they conclude a few hours before your intended bedtime.
  • Sauna Sessions: Incorporating a post-workout sauna or a warm bath into your evening routine can help relax muscles and signal the body that it's time to rest.


Adopting meditation or mild stretching after an evening workout can help ease the mind and body into a state of relaxation, enhancing the quality of sleep.


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The Best Approach to Achieving Your Fitness Goals

The “best” time to work out ultimately depends on your personal schedule, preferences, and goals. Whether it’s to maintain a balanced mental state throughout the day, improve productivity, or help you sleep better at night, any form of exercise at any hour is better than none.


  • Fitness Goals: Tailor your workout timing based on your fitness objectives. If you're training for a race, morning workouts can simulate race times. For strength gains, the afternoon might be your prime time due to increased muscle power.
  • Chronicling Changes: Keep a workout journal noting the time of day and how you feel during and after the session. Over time, patterns may emerge that can help you fine-tune your workout timing.
  • Listen to Your Body: Regardless of what the clock says, prioritize how your body feels. If you’re dragging during a scheduled morning run, you might want to consider switching to afternoon workouts.


Ultimately, finding the ideal workout time is part science, part self-awareness, and wholly personal. Experiment with morning, afternoon, and evening workouts, and observe how each impacts your energy levels and performance. By aligning your workouts with your body's natural rhythm, you can supercharge your fitness routine and make the most of every repetition and step.

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