When's the Best Time To Workout?

Does working out in the morning kick your metabolism in gear? Will exercising in the afternoon help you build more muscle?

The debate over the best time of day to exercise has raged on for years. The answer? The best time to workout is entirely based on the person.

Some people are morning people and can wake up early to get their workout done. Others have to get their sleep, so after-work exercise is their ideal situation.

To help you determine what time is best for you, take a look at the benefits of morning and night to help you make a decision. And then stick to your choice.

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Type of Exercisers

Beginner: If you're trying to lose weight, new to exercise and/or starting a program, anytime is the best time to exercise. Find a time that works best for your schedule. If you only have 30 minutes in the afternoon, that's fine. Be honest with yourself and determine a time that you can commit to. No excuses.

Intermediate/On-and-Off Gym Goer: If you're an off-again-on-again exerciser, first figure out why you continue to fall off of your routine. What causes you to stop? If it's because of time, life, work, kids etc., try choosing a time where those responsibilities cause least interference.

Typically, first thing in the morning is a great option for people with extremely busy schedules. This way you exercise in the morning and have time for work and family the rest of the day.

Advanced: If you're an advanced fitness fanatic who has trained for years, you probably don't need to worry. If you're working out consistently and getting results, continue what works for you.

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Early in the Day

In my 15-plus year experience as a trainer and coach, the longer someone waits, the less likely they will get their workout done. Life gets in the way: an unexpected meeting, a sick kid at school, an issue with a pet or other inconveniences comes up.

Mornings might be the best option for you. Some benefits of morning workouts include:

  • Provides you with energy throughout the day.
  • Improves your insulin sensitivity.
  • Some experts say people have better brain function throughout the day. This will help you be more alert and productive at work.
  • Some experts say it will help kick start your metabolism. But other research shows it's not a huge impact.
  • Research shows morning exercisers stick with their routines longer than those that work out at other times during the day.

Later in the Day
Some folks simply aren't morning people. Or, their job or lifestyle doesn't allow for early exercise. In this case, a workout later in the day is their best bet. Some benefits include:

  • Research shows that muscle activation is highest in the afternoon.
  • Your body is warmer in the afternoon so there's less chance of injury. Note: A proper dynamic warm-up is still important to prevent injuries, regardless of the time of day.
  • Based on our circadian rhythms (our internal clock), afternoon exercise is the best time to move.

Consistency is Key
A workout at any time of the day is better than no workout. Establish a routine and stick with it. A calorie burned at 6 a.m. is the same calorie burned at 6 p.m.

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About the Author

Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC

Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is a fitness professional and the founder of DB Strength in San Diego. He is also the head strength and conditioning coach for Alliance Training Center where he works with many top professional MMA athletes. Visit www.dbstrength.com for more information.

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