Morning or Night: What Time Should I Work Out?

Fitting fitness into our busy schedules can be its own sort of challenge. And, once we do find the time for a workout, we should make sure this “time” jives with what our body says is best for us. That’s right, pay attention: Your body is speaking to you.

Most science suggests that we should try working out at different times of the day to see what works for each of us and how our bodies respond. Work out in the morning for a few weeks, then the next few weeks try a lunchtime lunge or two, then hit your fitness in the early evening after work, or even later if your schedule dictates it.

What works for you? What works for your body? When is the best time to work out?

Well, that all depends on you. The key is consistency.

Early Bird Gets the Wor…kout?

If waking up a couple of hours before you have to head to the office doesn’t infuriate you, and in fact invigorates you, by all means, jump outta bed and seize that squat! After all, the perfect time to exercise is when it feels right for you… and your physiology.

Sometimes it’s simply easier to be consistent with a morning workout routine because it’s the first thing you do in the day, and you don’t get distracted or side-tracked by other activities (read: Happy Hour, kids’ soccer game, etc.) and a calendar that fills up quickly once the rest of the world starts stirring after 7 or 8 am. Getting a jump on your day with a workout can also rev your engine and prepare you for the long slog ahead.

For those who do like a morning routine, be sure to stretch and do your warm-ups. Our muscles can be really tight in the morning, so stretching them out to prepare is paramount. Some research also suggests that people can burn up to 20 percent more body fat when exercising on an empty stomach—and that is definitely easier to do first thing in the morning rather than starving or depriving yourself throughout your day.

Night Owls Have An Advantage

Some of our jobs don’t lend themselves to a regular schedule or hitting the gym hard in the morning, so we opt for evening exercise. This timeframe has its own set of benefits.

For one, if you show up after the after-work crowd has dissipated (say 8 pm) you don’t have to fight for machines, or weights, or space. If you have ever been to the gym during its peak morning or after work rush, then you know what we’re talking about. If you go at night, you’ll mostly have the place to yourself, and you can take as long as you want on the treadmill, the shower, or the water fountain. An added bonus is that nighttime is a great time to try that circuit workout you’ve wanted to try since the 10 different pieces of equipment are most likely free!

Yes, working out too late can disrupt your sleep, but these aforementioned perks cannot be denied. You can work out longer and harder when there is no pressure to vacate a weight bench or cardio machine. One study even found muscular function and strength peaks in the evening hours, as does our oxygen uptake and its utilization.

Unleash your frustrations from a long day: traffic, an awful boss—whatever it may be—so you don’t bring all that pent-up anger to bed with you. Be stress-free and go to bed happy. The biggest bonus? Sleeping in.

Consistency (More than Workout Time) is Key

Studies suggest that those who have a routine are more likely to follow through and stick to a workout plan. So, if getting up a couple of hours before hitting the office works for you, do it. Not a morning person, and prefer to get that fitness after 7 pm? No problem. Just get to the gym and do it! Tell us, what is your favorite time to workout?