The perfect time to work out is when?
Being a strength athlete, you know the drill: there’s no path to success that doesn’t include regular, hard training. But all types of training aren’t created equal – depending on your training goal, your day’s schedule and your biorhythm, it either makes sense to get going early in the morning or to hit the gym in the evening hours.
The early bird gets the worm
Or, to put it another way: There’s many reasons to start working out when everyone else is still asleep or having breakfast. If you’ve just finished your building phase and are in the process of getting into the definition phase, early training particularly pays off: go out for an easy jog before breakfast to warm up and get your day started.
Hitting the gym afterwards might also prove to be a good idea: the place is likely to be not nearly as packed as in the evening hours. That means you have a greater number of different gym machines to choose from than during “fitness rush hour”. That way you can focus on building your muscles efficiently, plus it is less likely you’ll get distracted by fellow athletes. What you definitely should do before working out is get a bite to eat. You know what your favorite breakfast is – just bear in mind to have something that’s easy on your stomach, you want to be able to fully concentrate on your workout after all.
Strength training in the morning revs up your cardiovascular system and kick-starts your metabolism. Thus, after you’re done with your early workout routine, you’re not only wide awake and ready to conquer the day – you’re also already done with your daily exercise and can enjoy the evening doing something else.
The ideal premise for coming up with an efficient workout plan is the ability to schedule your day to your own liking: the perfect time of day for an intense endurance or strength training session is the afternoon – that is the timeframe in which your body is in the best shape for working out. However it is very likely that you will have to tend to commitments other than bodybuilding during that time. Don’t worry though: even if you can only make time for working out slightly later, you’ll still be able to achieve great feats.
While early morning training kick-starts your day, the evening is the perfect time for record-breaking performances. Blood pressure and lung functionality are at their best – you can practice bodybuilding at the highest level possible. If you’ve been physically active during the day, you’re already well-prepared for a hard full-power workout. And if you’ve spent your day sitting at a computer desk, an evening training session enables you to also go to the limits of your physical capacity and to clear your head after a stressful day at work.
If your goal is to be absolutely beat after finishing your workout, evening training is just right for you: not only do you burn off energy while building muscle mass and reducing stress: due to the fact that hard workouts lead to muscular fatigue, you’ll sleep especially well afterwards. You should make some time for a cool down after your training to prepare for the night both physically and mentally though. How you do that is entirely up to you: Go for a jog, stretch, make use of relaxation skills, visit the sauna or mix and match those and other activities – just take it easy.
It is important to give your cardiovascular system time to power down. It’s best to stay awake for one to two additional hours before going to bed after working out. If you don’t, odds are that you will have trouble sleeping and mess up your biorhythm in the process.
The best time for working out…
…is your time. What is that supposed to mean? The most important chronometer is not your wristwatch or Big Ben – it’s your internal clock, especially when it comes to finding your personal prime time for training. If you’re an early bird by nature, morning training is very likely to work out better for you than after work training sessions. If on the other hand you really enjoy sleeping in, morning training might not be particularly enjoyable for you.
Everyone’s biorhythm is different, so it’s best for you to try both training variants a couple of times to find out what best suits you. When you decide, take into account that training is not only about effectiveness. It should, above all, be fun – if you’re missing that crucial component sometimes, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Maybe morning bodybuilding is just what you need to start your day in style, giving you that extra power for the rest of the day. Or you’re not a morning person and enjoy an after work workout more than anything else. Both methods work and have their advantages – it’s up to you to make the best of them!
Author: Corinne Mäder Reinhard, Senior Sports Nutrition Manager Active Nutrition International. She holds an International Olympic Committee postgraduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition and is a certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.