It has been asked for ages. Every beginner thinks about it. But, frankly there is no concrete and clear answer for it. The best time for a workout can easily vary from person to person, depending on the energy level, daily schedule and convenience. Some people find it easier and convenient to hit the gym in the morning, when they are fresh and have energy surging through their body. While, there are some, who, due to frantic morning routines can’t find the time for the workout, or prefer to do some other creative and productive work in the morning.
Due to several aspects and factors involved, it can prove to be a daunting challenge to decide the most suitable time for workout. Especially, if you are just starting out, then it can be even more difficult for you to pick the most appropriate time as you don’t know how your body will react to exercise at different times of the day. Also, you need to know how you feel about working out during a particular part of the day.
As we have said earlier that it is impossible to say which is the best part of the day to workout. But, if you have clear idea of advantages and disadvantage of different time periods, then depending on your preference, you can select the most appropriate one. So, here are the pros and cons of working out at different parts of the day.
- Easier and Convenient
It is impossible to do triset or giant set workout in a packed gym, which is usually the case in evening gym sessions. However, the gyms usually have lesser crowd in the morning time. So, you don’t have to wait for other guy to complete his workout on leg press machine or wait for that girl to finish her running session on the treadmill. Also, you don’t have to hurry through your workout just because someone is waiting for their turn. In the morning workout session, you have more freedom and better access to the gym facilities.
- Hormones Advantage and Metabolism Boost
Another advantage of working out in the morning is that crucial hormones such as testosterone, which help in building muscle mass are elevated in the body. So, if you are working in the morning, then you can capitalize on the peak production of the natural hormones. Whereas, these hormones are on a decline in the evening, which can slow down your recovery and muscle building process.
Also, working out in the morning can give your body a huge metabolism boost. By exercising in the morning, you enhance your body’s calorie burning rate, which can be a huge blessing for those looking to shed stubborn pounds. To get the best possible metabolism boost, you should do cardio activities like high-intensity interval training in the morning session.
- Lesser Distractions
If you are doing a morning workout, then the chances of finding your pals are lower. Yes, it is great to socialize, because otherwise life tends to become too dull and boring. But, there is a place and time for it. The good productive workout can easily be ruined by a casual chat, which drifts from one thing to another before you realize that you have completely broken your rhythm. Also, it is impossible to have a high intensity workout when you have distractions around. Another reason which makes morning workouts more productive and serious is that people who have struggled to get up in the morning are more perceptive of the value of time.
- Lower Energy Stores
During the night, your body gets depleted of the stores of glycogen, which is the primary source of energy. After waking up, it takes couple of hours and carbohydrate rich diet to replenish the used up stores of energy. To fuel your body through the morning workout, your body will have to break down stored fat to provide energy. Though, it has a small advantage as your fat stores would be decreased, but overall your workout will be less efficient and you may struggle to maintain the high intensity. Also, the athletes who do early morning workout often feel fatigued earlier. For an effective, long and intensive workout, you need a steady stream of energy.
- Risk of Injury
The biggest disadvantage of working out in the morning is the increased risk of suffering an injury. If you are waking up and are immediately performing your workout, then the chances are that your body isn’t completely awake. Also, sometimes you tend to sleep late in the night and when you wake up early in the morning, your body is still tired and your muscles don’t move properly. Running and cycling outside without being fully awake, puts you at increased risk of running or bumping into something and injuring yourself.
Your spinal discs absorbs water and plump up as you sleep. Doing bending exercises such as deadlifts and crunches puts three times more stress on your discs than the normal. You need to give your back a few hours to adjust to awake state, before placing stress on it.
Squeezing a workout in your lunchtime, saves a lot of time elsewhere. If you are doing a mid-day workout, then you won’t have to bother with getting up early in the morning and can head straight to the gym from your office. You get a better sleep and you can spend your precious evening time with your family. Knowing that you have limited time window and would have to return to work soon, will make you more efficient and you would spend less time on distractions such as striking idle conversations. Also, due to the incentives involved, you are less likely to find excuses to stay away from the gym.
- Improved Energy Level and Mood
An exercise is the best solution for the dreaded afternoon slump. A good mid-day workout is an effective and healthy way to wake up your body and brain. Also, exercise releases endorphins, the feel good neurotransmitters, which produce a general feeling of wellbeing. These neurotransmitters are also known to improve your creativity and productivity by giving a boost to your brain. Another reason that links exercise to better brain functions is that exercise increases blood flow and oxygen supply to your brain. This improved supply assists brain in creating new synapses or connections that improve our cognitive performance.
- Reduces Stress
It is a well-known fact that working in current competitive professional environment is extremely stressful. The pressure of meeting looming deadlines, dealing with difficult co-workers and preparing for important meetings takes a toll on your mental health. Exercise can reduce the stress and re-invigorate your brain to better deal with mental challenges. Working up a sweat boosts production of serotonin in our brain. Serotonin is a chemical that helps to relieve depression and reduce stress. It is a much better alternative than breaking down in front of your colleagues.
- Tight Schedule
Fitting a proper workout within an hour’s lunch break can prove to be daunting and stressful. There can be occasions when due to pressing work or urgent tasks, you will have to curtail your lunch break. In such scenarios, it is almost impossible to do a decent workout. Also, you have to first change from work clothes to training clothes and then vice versa, this can take a significant chunk of the already limited time period. This can prove to be much bigger obstacle for women.
Another problem with the tight schedule is that getting everything right can prove to be stressful, and, working out with one eye on the clock won’t take you far. Your focus would be somewhere else which will negatively affect the quality and intensity of the workout.
- Meal Planning
Mid-day workout also makes it tricky to decide whether lunch should be eaten before the workout or after the workout. You will have to do some experimenting to get an exact idea of which one will suit your body better. It can help if you plan your meal ahead and get it packed. It will save a lot of time and hassle.
- Better Quality
The biggest advantage of working out in the evening is that you can do longer and better quality workout. As compared to morning and mid-day sessions, the evening sessions aren’t usually bound by the time constraints and you can do a serious, intense and productive workout without having to keep an eye on the clock. Also, you aren’t in a hurried state of mind as you don’t have any obligations to meet.
Another thing that improves the quality of the evening workout is that some people tend to be at their energetic best in the evening. All the food you have consumed during the day can give you a sustained burst of energy to go harder, faster and stronger.
- De-stress and Let Out Frustrations
A good evening workout is a perfect day to deal with stress and frustrations that may have accumulated throughout the day. Whether you had a rough day at the office or once again had an argument with pushy boss, the gym is a perfect place to leave it all behind. Endorphins, the feel good hormones released by working out can help in neutralizing the negative emotions and stress. A high intensity workout can enhance your well-being and will give you a sense of achievement, which can go long way in restoring your bruised self-esteem. It is important to give an outlet to the negative energy bottled up inside you, and, what can be better than an intense and grueling gym session.
- Better Sleep
Lastly, a decent physical activity in the evening can help you get a better sleep. According to some studies, lifting weight in the evening can give you a better quality and longer sleep than people who prefer to workout in the morning. However, there is a catch here. If you do a high intensity workout just one or two hours before you hit sack, then the possibility is there that your natural sleep cycle could be disturbed. Instead, you can do some yoga which can be a perfect way to wind down your day.
The biggest pitfall of deciding to hit the gym in the evening is that you might find motivation to workout, hard to come. The more you delay it, the more are the chances of you putting it off for another day. Some people have the tendency to feel low on the energy in the evenings, which makes it a challenge for them even to stumble into the gym. Another problem is that you might be tempted to ditch workout in favor of spending time with your family.
- Slower Metabolism
Another disadvantage of an evening workout session is that your metabolism will be on the slower side, couple of hours after your workout. Yes, the evening workout will give metabolism boost similar to the one given by workout done at any other part of day. But, the thing is that after couple of hours, you are going to sleep, which will automatically slow down your body’s fat burning ability.