Morning vs. Evening Workouts: Which Is Best for You?

By Emma Stessman

Does the early bird always get the worm when it comes to maximizing the benefits of working out? Or are there reasons to consider channeling your inner night owl by spending evenings at the gym?

Christi Marraccini is an instructor and the director of fitness at innovative live streaming fitness platform NEO U, and her answer is pretty typical when you ask the experts: It depends.

Marraccini says there isn’t one perfect time to schedule in a sweat session––it varies from person to person, depending mostly on your schedule and preferences. The thing that does matter when it comes to developing an effective routine, however, is to pick a time of day stick with it.

“When it comes to picking a morning or evening workout, it’s best for your body and your workout schedule to stick with one,” Marraccini says. While that may be tricky to manage, she explains, consistency generally leads to better results.

Ready to choose your perfect workout time, however early or late? Here are some of the factors Marraccini suggests you consider before clocking in for cardio.

Morning vs. Evening Workouts: 4 Factors to Consider

1. Your energy levels during the day

Think of an early morning workout as equivalent to your first cup of coffee.“You get an energy boost, it kickstarts your metabolism, it wakes you up, and it gets you going for the day,” says Marraccini. So, when you head into work, you’ll likely feel super energized and productive

As the day goes on, however, that energy might start to drain––and if you can’t add a midday nap to your calendar (if you can, we’re jealous), you might find yourself in need of a serious caffeine boost later in the day. “You might crash,” Marraccini says. “I think morning workouts are definitely catered to people that can be out of the office by four or five o’clock because you’re asking a lot from your body.”

On the flip side, working out in the evening will give you that same energy boost, which is great if you have extra work to do or tasks to accomplish around the house, but not so much if you’re planning on crawling straight into bed. In fact, according to one study, an early morning workout leads to better quality sleep than exercising in the afternoon or at night.

So, think about the timing of your workday and how good of a sleeper you are in considering this component.

RELATED: 3 Simple Health Hacks for Better Sleep

2. If you prefer to work out on an empty stomach

The research on whether it’s better to work out on a full or empty stomach is somewhat of a mixed bag, so this is really about experimenting and finding what works best for your body.

“There are people who say, ‘Oh, I have to work out in the morning, I can’t have anything in my stomach when I work out, because it feels too heavy’ or there are people who are like ‘No I can’t do morning workouts because I need that fuel,’” Marraccini says. “It’s very case by case.”

RELATED: 10 Great Pre- and Post- Workout Snacks

3. How your workout affects your mindset

One of the best things about an early a.m. workout is that you can check a major to-do off your list before the day has even really started. “You’ve already done something; you already feel accomplished,” Marraccini says. “Doing something for yourself right from the start of your day and then having it carry through for the rest––whether you’re at work or on vacation––it makes you feel better about yourself right from the start.”

However, if you have a particularly stressful job, or you spend most days chasing your kids around (which is a workout in itself), you might need that end-of-the-day stress relief that comes from a good sweat.

“There are days where I’m like, ‘okay, morning workout because I want to get it done, and then evening workout because I just need to push my body and get out all my frustrations,’” she says.

4. Your performance

Here’s the kicker: research shows that people tend to perform better in anaerobic activities, like running or weight training, later in the day. It’s mostly due to the fact that your body’s core temperature peaks in the early evening.

But if you can commit to being a regular morning exerciser, there’s no need to switch up your schedule. By repeatedly working out in the morning (AKA establishing that routine, Marraccini was talking about), you can adapt your body’s performance ability to be the same or even greater than it would be later in the day.

The bottom line: the best time for a workout is whenever you can fit it into your crazy schedule. And if you need to skip a morning or evening (because of those back-to-back meetings), don’t stress. “There’s huge pressure when it comes to having to get your workout in, but if you give yourself that extra sleep, extra time, or extra rest, it may be more beneficial than trying to fit in your workout,” Marraccini says. “There’s always the next day.”

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What It *Really* Means If You Like Working Out In the Morning vs. Night

For the most part, there are two types of people in this world; those who could sleep in until noon every day and stay up all night (if only society didn’t oppress their night owl tendencies, sigh), and those who crash around 9 p.m. and rise early to get shit done (gotta catch that worm!). This is especially true about when you like to get your sweat on.

Turns out there are some pretty interesting trends among diehard morning exercisers and evening workout warriors, according to surveys by market research company CivicScience. From favorite foods to salary, your workout time preference may reveal more about you than you think.

Pause: Before you read ahead, keep in mind that these things do not define you, and as long as you’re working out in the first place, you’re lapping everyone on the couch. (Nope, we don’t apologize for the cheesy saying. We’re not going to apologize for these epic workout mantras either.)

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If You’re a Morning Workout Person…

Congrats-you’re good at getting out of bed. And, apparently, some other congratulations are in order; morning exercisers are more likely to earn over 100K a year, save their money, volunteer and donate to charity, and buy organic food, according to the CivicScience survey. They’re also more likely to work out regularly, which makes sense; when you get it over with in the a.m., there’s less to derail your good intentions throughout the day (hi, happy hour). You’re also more eager to try out new equipment and classes and to search online for healthy recipes. You’re also more likely to live in the Midwest and (not surprisingly) to fuel your workout with country music-and to watch documentaries and browse Pinterest while you’re chillin’ out.

Go ahead, gloat at little. According to this survey, morning workout people are pretty productive humans. (Maybe it’s because you get all these benefits from morning workouts.)

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If You’re a Night Workout Person…

Whether you’re a night workout person because you want to be or because you just loathe mornings, these things are likely to be true: You’re a Millennial (between ages 18 and 34), you earn under 50K a year, and you dig Kashi products as well as Chex cereal, according to the survey. Coincidentally, you’re pretty likely to drink coffee every day (are you sure you’re not a morning person?) and to enjoy craft beer, as well as order takeout or dine out twice a week. And although you most likely follow health and fitness trends super closely, 68 percent of you consider yourself overweight.

If you liked the sound of the morning workout people better, don’t fret. You can totally turn yourself into a morning workout person. If not, you have one important benefit: Science says that the best time for a run-or any workout, for that matter-is actually early evening.

The takeaway: Before you start trash talking, remember that these stats don’t mean you are or have to be any of these things; they’re just quirky trends that might shed a light on what you have in common with the sunrise runners or late-night lifters next to you during your workout. (There really are a bunch of benefits to both workout times.) Becoming a morning workout person isn’t going to suddenly increase your salary, and becoming a night workout person isn’t going to magically poof you out of the Midwest. If you’re working out at all, you get a gold star.

  • By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo

At this point, you probably don’t need to hear how important working out is to your overall health. Even the less obvious advantages of getting your sweat on – increased energy, better creative streaks, and even better sex – are all relatively well-documented.

You don’t need anyone to tell you that you should work out, but it might be nice if someone said where you were supposed to fit gym time into your already hectic schedule. Sure, someone somewhere suggested biking to work or leaving work during your lunch hour to try and wedge in a few minutes on the elliptical, but is any of that realistic enough to turn into your long-term fitness routine?

Probably not.

At the end of the day, there are two real solutions that end up making exercise a possibility for working adults: Get it in early or do it late. If you’re already an early bird or a night owl by nature, the choice may be obvious. But are there benefits you might not know about in hitting the gym first thing in the morning or before you fall into bed? To find out, we polled over 1,000 people about when and how often they work out and how they really feel after the sweat session has worn off. Read on as we break down the difference between morning exercises and their evening equivalents to find out who’s getting the most out of every calorie burned.

Fitting in Your Fitness

The hardest part of working out isn’t building up enough endurance to run a long race or figuring out which exercises will actually be effective at targeting your problem areas; it’s finding a routine that works well enough that you’ll get up and go on a regular basis. It won’t necessarily be easy, and it could take some serious trial and error to get it right, but you’re more likely to see the long-term results you’re looking for if you can commit to a program that works.

Overwhelmingly, we found a vast majority of people who exercise chose to get their workout in the morning as a start to their day. With nearly 42 percent of people working out in the morning (including peak times between 6 and 7 a.m.), less than 27 percent did the same in the evening (including peak times between 6 and 7 p.m.). The other 40 percent managed to squeeze in their exercise of choice during different hours of the day, including the over 9 percent who worked out between 10 and 11 in the morning. Across the board, working out during traditional lunch hours (from noon to 2 p.m.) were among the least popular hours of the day.

The hardest part of working out isn’t building up enough endurance to run a long race or figuring out which exercises will actually be effective at targeting your problem areas; it’s finding a routine that works well enough that you’ll get up and go on a regular basis. It won’t necessarily be easy, and it could take some serious trial and error to get it right, but you’re more likely to see the long-term results you’re looking for if you can commit to a program that works.

Overwhelmingly, we found a vast majority of people who exercise chose to get their workout in the morning as a start to their day. With nearly 42 percent of people working out in the morning (including peak times between 6 and 7 a.m.), less than 27 percent did the same in the evening (including peak times between 6 and 7 p.m.). The other 40 percent managed to squeeze in their exercise of choice during different hours of the day, including the over 9 percent who worked out between 10 and 11 in the morning. Across the board, working out during traditional lunch hours (from noon to 2 p.m.) were among the least popular hours of the day.

Power Hour?

Setting the alarm an hour early or committing to getting out of bed when you’d rather sneak in a few extra winks is already hard enough, but there are plenty of benefits to incorporating an early rise into your workout routine even if it sounds grueling when you’re going to bed the night before. You’ll burn more fat, sleep better when the time comes, and feel more energized throughout the day.

For the most part, men and women we polled were keen to take advantage of those perks. Nearly 38 percent of men and 45 percent of women preferred to exercise in the morning compared to roughly 26 percent each who opted for evening hours instead. While more than 52 percent of baby boomers and 48 percent of Gen Xers who work out got their sessions in at the start of their days rather the end, fewer millennials said the same.

Only 37 percent of millennials worked out in the morning and 29 percent in the evening. Compared to other generations, studies show millennials average more sleep and tend to prefer flexibility when it comes to their schedules and routines. While they were less likely to work out in the morning than some older generations, they didn’t universally opt for evenings either, making random times throughout the day popular options as well.

Routine Workouts

Perhaps the biggest benefit of working out in the morning isn’t about burning more calories or putting on muscle mass; it’s getting into a rhythm that makes you actually want to work out.

Even though they didn’t go much longer in their session duration, preferring to exercise at the beginning of the day yielded an average 19 more annual workouts for women compared to those who worked out in the evening. That might not seem like a lot over the course of an entire year, but choosing to work out in the evening led to 38 more hours of exercise for men, while waking up early helped generate 23 more hours for women. Imagine if you spent that hour biking at a moderate pace in a spin class or on a stationary bike in your home. At an average of 520 calories per hour, that would amount to burning between 11,000 and 19,000 extra calories a year just for working out at a specific time of day.

Compared to their morning routines, men who worked out at night averaged an extra 11 minutes per session, but two fewer workouts annually. Sweating by moonlight also has a unique set of perks including more intense sessions, faster toning, and better sleep once you’re finally ready to call it quits.

Aiming for Your Health Objective

Almost no one works out just for the heck of it, which means setting clear goals is often the key to both a successful and consistent workout routine. With nothing to work toward, the odds of actually getting up early or staying up later to squeeze in a few laps in the pool are slim to none.

Being satisfied with your fitness level may be the kind of thing that takes time to accomplish, but meeting your goals and feeling good about them may be more readily achieved when you commit to exercising in the mornings. Nearly 58 percent of men and 47 percent of women who worked out in the morning said they often or always met their fitness goals. And while men were slightly more in tune with their overall fitness when they worked out at night, more than 2 in 3 women who opted to work out in the morning felt confident about their fitness level, a higher rate than women who worked out in the evening.

Pumped Up

Whether you prefer to go for a jog around the block or bang out a few reps in the weight room, exercising releases natural endorphins in the body that help boost energy, improve heart health, and sharpen focus.

Nearly 82 percent of men and 71 percent of women who worked out in the morning said they were more energetic on exercise days. For women, that represents a nearly 20 percentage point increase over people who said it was nighttime sweating that helped them feel ready to take on the following day.

And while it may be more difficult to qualify, close to 80 percent of men and roughly 75 percent of women who voted for a.m. sessions said they were even more productive on the days they worked out. Fewer than 59 percent of men and 67 percent of women who worked out at night said the same.

Motivating Factors

If exercising isn’t already a regular part of your daily or weekly routines, there is usually a pretty common list of reasons why. You may not feel the need to work out for health reasons, or maybe you just really don’t like exercising. But the reality for most people is one excuse trumps all the rest: time.

As it turns out, most people who opt to either work out in the morning or the evening aren’t necessarily doing it for the benefits of being an early riser or a night owl; they do it simply because it fits into their schedule best. For both morning exercisers (43 percent) and evening grinders (57 percent), the most popular reason for picking their workout time wasn’t preference or convenience; it was about conforming their fitness efforts around other obligations. And while roughly 1 in 4 early birds did actually elect to exercise in the morning on purpose, people staying up later to get their workouts in were more likely to do so to help them burn off the stress of the day. The same endorphins triggered by physical activitythat help keep you energized after a few minutes on the treadmill or strength training can also help to relieve stress regardless of when you end up in the gym.

Prioritizing Your Health for Men

When you’ve already got a full calendar of events throughout the week and even your weekends start to get bogged down by errands and family time, it’s fair to say that there are certain sacrifices associated with finding the opportunity to fit in a workout when you might otherwise prefer to do something else.

For men, nearly 51 percent of early exercisers and 68 percent of those active at night agreed the biggest sacrifice they made to prioritize their fitness was free time. When you’d rather be binging on Netflix or reading a good book, opting out for a sweaty session at the gym might sound like the last thing you want to do. And while men working out in the evening were more likely to give up their free time, those getting up in the morning to make it the gym were nearly three times more likely to give up sleep to make it happen.

Overall, there were typically more sacrifices associated with working out at night. Men fitting in their exercises at the end of the day were more likely to lose time with friends and family, meal preparation time, and time for their hobbies compared to men working out in the morning.

Prioritizing Your Health for Women

Like men, women working out at night made more sacrifices throughout the day than those who opted to work out in the mornings.

Forfeiting their free time was a common cost of having time to exercise regardless of the time of day. And while women waking up earlier to get their sweat on gave up sleep far more often than women staying up late, nighttime lifters and runners experienced more sacrifices in other parts of their lives. Evening workouts made women twice as likely to lose out on meal prep and cooking time and nearly twice as likely to miss opportunities to socialize with friends.

Taking a Day Off

If you’re looking to get fit, working out alone may not do the trick. Monitoring what you put into your body (and how often) can have a huge impact on how quickly you achieve whatever goal you’re working toward. Still, dieting around the clock might not be the solution you’re looking for either. Whether it’s just one meal or the entire day, fitting in a “cheat” here or there can actually be good for helping you stay on track (just ask The Rock).

As it turns out, what time of day you end up fitting in your workout could be affecting your eating habits more than you know. Both men and women who decided to exercise at night rather than in the morning averaged more cheat meals per year than their early bird counterparts. While the difference was smaller for women (just four cheat meals either way), men who worked out at night averaged more than 20 extra indulgent dinners or snacks every year than men who committed their mornings to their fitness routines.

Working out in the morning made people more likely to skip out on a meal, either breakfast or dinner. Similarly, both men and women working out in the morning also drank more energy drinks per year (between 29 and 51). And even though the occasional energy drink won’t kill you, drinking them in excess certainly isn’t good for your health.

Some people work out because they’re looking to drop a size or two in the waist, and some people are just looking to post a better personal record for their long-distance runs. But did you know working out on the regular could be good for your libido too?

No matter what time of day you’re exercising, you’ll likely get the added boost in the bedroom – though the effect isn’t universally equal. People we polled who worked out in the morning had sex every five days on average, compared to every six days for those getting the same sessions in at night. Perhaps sex might be another potential sacrifice of the evening workout routine.

Making It Count

As we’ve discovered, the most important part of your exercise routine is the part where you get up and actually go. It can be a walk around the block, a spin class, or even a yoga session to help you feel more flexible throughout the day. Whether you decide to wake up early to fit in your fitness efforts or stay up late to try and burn those extra calories, getting any workout in is better than doing nothing at all.

Nevertheless, our study revealed there are serious benefits to working out in the morning instead of waiting until the end of the day to fit it in. Not only does exercising first thing in the morning make you more likely to exercise more often, but you may also crave fewer cheat meals and need fewer energy drinks to keep you going throughout the day. Even though just getting into the gym or going outside to get your workout in is a great place to start if you’re thinking about instituting a new fitness regimen, opting for the morning may help set you up for long-term success better than evening workouts.

Methodology

We collected survey responses from 1,000 people who exercise from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. 48.6 percent of our participants were men, and 51.4 percent were women. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 80 with a mean of 36 and a standard deviation of 11. If a respondent did not exercise at least once a week they were disqualified from the survey. Respondents who exercised between 5AM and 10AM were grouped into the morning category. Respondents who exercised between 5PM and 7PM were grouped into the evening category. This times were chosen because at least 5% of people exercised during one of the hours in that time frame.

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Trying to decide if you should sleep in or stay up late? We feel you. To help make the decision easier for your readers, we welcome the use of any results or graphics found within this project for noncommercial use. We simply ask that you include a link back to this page so our contributors also earn credit for their work.

Mr. Nuttakorn Chaiwetchakan / EyeEm / Mamoru Muto/Aflo / PeopleImages / Getty; Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

Finding the time to work out is half the battle when it comes to keeping up with a fitness routine, and for better or for worse, that often means you get two choices: morning or evening. And while some people feel strongly about which way is right for them, the good news is that there’s no “best” time in general—just the one that’s best for you.

“I get this question all the time,” says Steve Ball, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. “My answer? Any time is a good time to exercise. Find the time that works best for your schedule keeping in mind that lifetime fitness is achieved through consistency, not through working out at the perfect time. If any physiological differences exist, they are minimal and don’t outweigh personal preference.”

So, even though research has found some small differences between the calorie-burning and strength-building powers of working out at in the morning and working out at night, neither is necessarily better, and probably not worth basing your routine off of.

What is worth working your fitness habits around? Think about your schedule, when you feel the most energized, and how you get motivated. Here are eight things to consider when you’re deciding to set up a morning or evening workout grind.

Benefits Of Morning Workouts: 1. Exercise can give you an energy boost.

Some people (myself included) find that working out in the morning gives them all-day energy. This effect is, in part, a mental benefit, but endorphins are also released, explains Ball (and those bad boys can give your energy an instant boost). Plus, an change in body temperature can help wake you up. Pair a workout with coffee, and you’re well on your way to your most alert morning ever.

2. Life is less likely to get in the way of an early workout.

While chances of a 7 A.M. breakfast date are pretty slim, post-work happy hours or late nights at the office have a way of derailing evening workout plans. If you have an unpredictable schedule at night, morning workouts are probably less likely to get canceled. “There is some research that shows morning exercisers have increased adherence ,” says Ball. “If you exercise in the evening, life can often get in the way, and people tend to skip more often. Since consistency is a key to maintaining fitness, this shouldn’t be minimized.”

3. Gyms are often quieter in the morning, so you might have more space.

Hate waiting for a treadmill or a set of 15-pound dumbbells? Many gyms’ peak hours are right after the workday, according to Ball, so if the thought of working out in a crowded space stresses you out, earlier mornings might be a better bet. Try going at a few different times of day to feel out the situation, or ask your gym’s staff to see when the least busy times are.

4. You’re getting your workout over and done with and setting a healthy tone for your day.

If you dread the thought of going to the gym after a long workday, mornings might be a good option—this way, “your workout won’t hang over your head the entire day,” says celebrity fitness expert Lacey Stone of Lacey Stone Fitness. “And you will feel you accomplished something before you even go into work.” By getting your workout in early, that’s one less thing you have to think about making time for later.

Have you ever found yourself wondering: Is it better to work out in the morning or night? You certainly wouldn’t be alone, as many studies have been conducted to try and figure out the optimal time for working out. When you’re practicing proper fitness, finding the right time to work out is crucial. Now it’s time to figure out what time is the best for you!

Morning Work Outs

Many people find morning workouts to be their preferred choice for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons cited is that when you exercise in the morning, you get your workout out of the way. Science also backs up morning workouts in some regards, as morning exercise tends to increase your energy for the rest of the day.

In fact, a morning workout is a lot like breakfast in that it gets your metabolism going. Simply put, you burn more calories all day long just from the sheer fact of exercising in the morning. A study conducted at Appalachian State University also found that morning workouts are preferable if you want a better night’s rest. So, is it better to work out in the morning or night? One more reason to go in the morning is that it’s been shown that people who work out in the morning are overall more likely to be consistent with their workouts. So pack your breakfast in your meal management bag, and dig in a post-morning workout session. Morning workouts certainly have their benefits. But plenty of people like to exercise at night as well, and surely science backs that up to some degree too. The real factor to consider is that consistency is key, no matter when you choose to work out. But studies have shown that different fitness goals are better achieved at certain parts of the day, and this is where working out later in the day comes into play.

Afternoon And Night Work Outs

Strength and endurance are both higher in the afternoon, while the likelihood of injuries is decreased. Exercising when body temperature is lowest, which is typically later in the day, around 4 or 5 p.m., results in improved performance and increased power. At this time of day, muscles are more flexible since your body is more warmed up than it is in the morning. Your reaction time is likely to be quicker, while heart rate and blood pressure are low. Protein synthesis peaks at this time of day, as well. Based on this, intense workouts such as weight training or hard cardio should take place during the late afternoon or evening. Not only that, but the calories provided by the small meals you have packed in your meal management bag are the perfect fuel for a nighttime workout. A study conducted at the Clinical Research Center of the University of Chicago found that those who hit the gym after work are more likely to achieve a higher degree of fitness than early-bird exercisers. Blood samples showed that levels of certain endocrine hormones (cortisol and thyrotropin) significantly increased in those working out at night. Chalk this up as another reason to engage in more strenuous activity at night. It turns out that the question “Is it better to work out in the morning or night?” doesn’t exactly have an easy answer. You can make a case for either time of day, especially depending on your own status as a morning person, the type of workouts you prefer, and where your other responsibilities fall during the day. The important thing to remember is that as long as you work out consistently and stay nutritionally focused on your meal management bag, you’ll achieve your fitness goals in no time.

Is it better to work out in the morning or at night?

So much of fitness is divided into teams. We have Team Yoga vs. Team Bootcamp, Team Gyms vs. Team Outdoor, Team Workout Solo vs. Team Workout Class. Now, we have Team Early Risers vs. Team Night Owls. Some people will work out early in the morning, while others find they put their best effort in later in the day or even late at night. Today, I’m going to break down the pros and cons of working out in the morning and at night that I have found in science and from personal experience. As always, I’ll let you decide what is best for your routine.

Team Early Riser

There was a time where I would wake up at 4:45 am for a 5 am a workout. That was because I would have to leave the house by 7 am to drop my dog off at daycare then head to an 8:30am class at school, go train morning clients, come back to school for a 3pm class, go train afternoon clients, then come back to school again for lab at 7pm. I would then pick up my dog at 9:30 pm from daycare, then get home around 10:30 pm. This schedule, or different but equally long variants of it, comprised my entire work week. Talk about a schedule from HELL. The only reason I did 5 am workouts was because I had no other choice. I applaud people who do this voluntarily, truly. And it seems like they might be onto something.

Studies have shown that those who exercise early in the morning make better food choices throughout the day by lowering neural response to food, and another study shows that exercise during a fasted state results in improved muscular adaptations. I will say, though, that if you’re not used to working out while in a fasted state, you will not feel as strong as you normally do when you’re adjusting to this new routine. Be careful of feeling dizzy or nauseous, and take it a little lighter for the first few early morning sessions. You might feel extra tired, even though you’re doing less work.

For me, the first couple of weeks, waking up seemed impossible, but over time, I adjusted. It felt great to get it out of the way and not have to worry about cramming it in somehow. As a trainer, I also worked better when I knew I had already done my work. From personal experience, my most committed and consistent clients were the ones who exercised earlier in the day as opposed to my afternoon or evening clients. They were the rockstars. When you think about it, it makes sense—you’re working out before anyone has a chance to throw your day off track, so whatever happens, at least you got that workout in.

Morning workouts get points for easing up the rest of your day’s schedule and setting the right tone for the rest of your day. It may also help you get to your fitness goals faster by better utilizing fat stores in a fasted state, although there are contradicting studies, so the jury is still out on this.

Team Night Owl

I work out best, weight-lifting wise, in the afternoon or evening. Let me have some food in me, let me get some other work done for a bit, run some errands—or, in L.A., just be in the car long enough to build up some angst and anger—and I unwind at the gym.

Studies have shown that you’re naturally stronger and mentally more prepared for exercise later in the day, which could really help you in lifting heavier and longer or sprinting faster. Your body is actually more capable of increased endurance training during this time as well, so these benefits aren’t only limited to resistance training. I find this to be true in practice—I am able to really work during these afternoon workouts because my body is already up and ready to go. There’s no getting eye boogers out, no hitting the snooze button. Because of this, I am usually more sore after an evening all-out effort workout than morning sessions where I’m still tired, lifting too heavy makes me dizzy, and I’m wishing I was back in bed.

While I am an afternoon/evening exerciser nowadays (those 5am days are long gone—the earliest I’ll do is 7am when I first wake up), I will say the temptation to skip a workout in the afternoon or evening is greater. The day goes on and maybe things come up that leave you too drained to even imagine setting foot in a gym, or Netflix just ends up sounding like a wayyy better idea.

Evening workouts are great if you’re really looking for an extra oomph to put into your workouts. Your body (and let’s face it, mind and mood) are more prepared to really put the pedal to the medal a little later on in the day. It can also help you ease off a particularly stressful day at work.

Bottom Line

Here’s the thing: the end of a workout feels like a relief no matter what time you’re done with it. Do what works for your schedule and choose whatever time makes exercise less of a chore for you. The end goal here is that you can stick to doing this for a long time. So whether that’s crossing exercise off the to-do list first thing in the morning, or giving yourself some time to ease yourself into the mindset, everyone has their preference. I will say if you’re more likely to dip on a workout, then just get it out of the way in the morning, but if you’re really looking to put in that work or let off some steam, then wait until your body is already fueled and warmed up from the day. Sometimes, you gotta just get it in where you can fit it in, honey, so you might be all over the board, and if that’s the case, give yourself a round of applause for not letting anything get in the way of you and your workout. All that matters is creating a routine that works for you, whether that’s morning, evening, or a mix of both.

Please note: If you’re training for something particular, such as a marathon, you should train the same time as that event. You want to keep your body’s routine the same and amplify that routine (optimize the body’s circadian rhythm), so don’t mix it up with training in the evening if your marathon is set to start at 8 am. You want your body to be used to and basically, totally trained, at running at 8 am.

I would love to hear what time of day you prefer to exercise and why. Sound off below!

This article first appeared on Betches.

We all know we should exercise regularly, but it can be difficult to fit exercise into our busy schedules. Most people can only exercise before or after work, so it’s worth examining whether the time of day we exercise affects outcomes such as weight loss and sleep.

To understand why the timing of exercise might be important, we first need to understand how our bodies function over a 24-hour day. Our biological clock helps to regulate sleep patterns, when we eat, blood pressure and body temperature. These “circadian rhythms” have been associated with many aspects of physical performance, health and well-being.

The early bird gets the worm, right?

In terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, it’s tempting to think morning exercise is more sustainable as it’s “out of the way” before other time pressures may interfere. But there isn’t much evidence to support this theory. Instead, it may just come down to what your preferred time to train is.

A study investigating the relationship between circadian preference and sport found athletes tend to select sports with training times that suit their individual preference. So “morning people” were more likely to select sports such as cycling, which has regular morning training.

If you’re thinking about breaking up your work day to squeeze in a workout at lunch time, be wary. Researchers compared attendance to lunch time group classes with after-work classes. Those who were assigned to the training during work only attended 26% of sessions, compared to the after-work group who attended 70% of the sessions.

Exercising before brekkie

Exercising on an empty stomach is different, physiologically, from exercising after a meal. After an overnight fast, our bodies are reliant on fat as its primary fuel source, so if you exercise in the morning, before eating breakfast, you will essentially burn more fat.

Burning more fat during exercise may have a metabolic advantage, but does that make a difference to fat loss over a period of time? Unfortunately, it’s unlikely. Research examined the difference between exercising in a fasted state, compared with after food, for four weeks. While both groups lost fat mass, there was no difference in the amount of fat lost between fasted and fed exercise.

Researchers investigating the impact of six weeks of morning versus evening exercise on energy intake and weight loss found those who exercised in the morning ate less throughout the day, and subsequently, lost 1kg more than those in the evening group.

But some researchers have also found we work harder in the evening. Conceivably, if we are working harder in the evening, over time, we will expend more energy, potentially leading to greater weight loss than with morning exercise.

Exercise and sleep

Exercise increases how awake we feel and raises our core temperature, which, in theory, is contrary to the “optimal” conditions to elicit feelings of sleepiness.

Despite previous recommendations that discouraged exercising within four hours of bedtime, there’s a growing body of evidence to support evening exercise.

Swiss researchers found vigorous exercise performed one-and-a-half hours before bedtime was associated with falling asleep faster, fewer awakenings after sleep onset, and better mood states.

In contrast, to get up early for morning training, some researchers found swimmers are sacrificing sleep, compared to rest days. So, if you’re going to get up at 5am for that pump class, make sure you get to bed a little earlier the night before, so you don’t lose sleep to make it work.

So is there really a better time of day to exercise?

Sticking to a workout plan isn’t easy when we have competing demands like work and family commitments, which can vary week to week. There are advantages to both morning and evening exercise. To get the most health benefits from exercise, the best time of day to exercise is when you will actually do it.

What we do know is you are more likely to do it regularly if you select a time and stick to it, regardless of whether it’s morning or evening. Exercising consistently at the same time each day is one of the best predictors of developing a long-lasting exercise habit.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Written by Paige Brooker, Michael Leveritt, Neil King, and Sjaan Gomersall.

Evening Workout Vs. Morning Workout

What time should you head to the gym?

Most people will perform best in the evenings. However, people who often train in the morning will adapt to training at these times, resulting in similar performance and gains in strength and hypertrophy.

Arguments for why evening training may be include that our body temperature and thus heart rate and neural activity are higher in the evening, but this is a minor difference. There is no consensus on a difference in maximal muscle activity comparing morning to evening training.

Hormonally, the testosterone response is higher in the evening, but the basal levels are higher in the morning, while cortisol is lower in the evening. At the end of the day (pun intended), your performance seems to be the most important factor for controlling your muslce gains, rather than minor differences in hormone levels or body temperatue. Performance seems to be adaptable to the time of day in which training occurs for the majority of individuals. People who are chronically tired in the morning should, however, prioritize evening training.

Sources:
1. Chtourou H et al. The effect of training at the same time of day and tapering period on the diurnal variation of short exercise performances. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Mar;26(3):697-708.
2. Souissi N et al. Effects of regular training at the same time of day on diurnal fluctuations in muscular performance. J Sports Sci. 2002 Nov;20(11):929-937.
3. Sedliak M et al. Effect of time-of-day-specific strength training on muscular hypertrophy in men. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Dec;23(9):2451-2457.Source
Hayes LD et al. Interactions of cortisol, testosterone, and resistance training: influence of circadian rhythms. Chronobiol Int. 2010 Jun;27(4):675-705

Morning workout vs evening workout

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