Thanks to seemingly busier schedules, we all have to work out whenever our schedule allows us to. However, if your schedule is more flexible, you may be wondering if there is an optimal time to work out for maximum results.
To simply answer the question of “Is there an optimal time to work out?” in general terms, consistency and a routine meal plan will provide optimal results for a performance based event and general health.
There are a couple of different factors that will play into how important timing is for your workouts. If you are simply wanting to lose weight for general health and fitness, then no: The timing of workouts simply needs to be placed around your schedule and get your body moving to burn calories.
Consistency will play the biggest role in workout performance rather than just trying to fit your schedule around an optimal training time. For example, if you are more productive in the morning and it works better for you to train before work, then try to consistently train before work 4-5 days out of the week.
If your schedule allows for evening workouts then consistently train at that time. When you have a consistent workout time, it is easier to be more efficient with planning your workouts and meal plan.
In my professional opinion, a consistent meal plan and workout regimen will always provide optimal results no matter what your goals are, be it training for a power/strength competition, running a marathon, or simply getting your steps in.
Creating a consistent pattern will allow your body to change its own energy levels based on the foods you’re eating around those workouts and it will get hyped up accordingly.
For example, you are consistently working out after work and have a specific pre-workout meal. One day you decide to go work out before work instead and have the same pre-workout meal. As a result, you may have a higher perceived rate of exhaustion and lower oxygen consumption simply because you are out of routine.
Because of these factors, if you are training for a specific event you would ideally like to train constantly at the time the event is going to take place.
Some more specific factors to talk about are some of today’s trending gym facilities. These group training facilities use heart rate monitors, making it easier to pinpoint what the best time is for you to work out.
For example, someone might take longer to get their heart rate elevated because they just woke up and are just getting their bodies moving for the day. On the other end of the spectrum, it might be easier for someone else to reach their targeted heart rate zone if they are just coming in from hectic traffic and a long stressful day at work.
Body temperature also typically affects muscle stiffness and overall mobility. For someone who is typically stiff and has tender joints, morning workouts may take longer to get into compared to an afternoon or evening workout session after a day of moving around and increased blood flow.
At that point, joints may be less tender for individuals and workouts may be less uncomfortable to perform, possibly resulting in better results from their workouts.
There are some advantages and disadvantages to the timing of your workouts.
Research shows that individuals that commit to morning workouts are more consistent and they’re less likely to skip. Individuals who commit to afternoon workouts can let the exhaustion of their workday and unexpected schedule changes keep them from eating when they are supposed to leading up to their training session, or skip it completely.
Testosterone levels increase throughout the day, so a strength based program may be better performed when those hormones will be at their highest levels to hit new personal records.
Working out past 7 pm could affect quality of sleep. Working out too late could ultimately cause sleep patterns to be disturbed which can increase cortisol levels that leads to excess fat storage. However, if that is the only time you can work out and you are consistent with it, it’s better than not working out at all and your body can adapt to these possible disruptions.