When it comes to exercise, there are a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, no one can say for certain what the ideal number of sets is for increasing muscle size (1). Some sources will indicate multiple sets provide the most benefit, while others advocate for single-set training.
Similarly, questions always arise about exercise timing. Should you work out early in the morning? Right before bed? During your lunch break?
Let’s take a look at this issue in an effort to help you determine how you should time your workouts.
Many people swear by their morning workouts. In fact, you’ll often see hordes of bleary-eyed individuals packing into the gym before the workday starts. But would it be better if they waited until after work to exercise?
Morning workouts are convenient for those who have packed schedules in the afternoon and evening (2). Picking up the kids from school, working, making dinner, and other tasks tend to pile up at the end of the day. Plus, many individuals may simply be too tired to get an effective workout after being at the office all day long.
Additionally, there is some validity to the theory that working out in the morning can improve your mood throughout the day (3). It has long been established that exercise improves mood and increases feelings of well-being. Therefore, it stands to reason that exercising in the morning will set a good tone for the rest of the day.
Best Time to Exercise
Afternoon and Evening Exercise
A huge contingent of exercisers will hit the gym every evening and late afternoon. Because they’ve had ample time to wake up their minds and bodies, these individuals tend to be able to work at higher intensities. This makes it easier to burn more calories and lift more weight.
Also, this extra time being awake allows for a passive warm-up, as the body has moved more during the day when compared to the early morning hours. This extra warm-up time may lead to decreased injury risk.
Which Time is Right for You to Workout?
Unsatisfyingly, there is no right answer for everyone. If your schedule permits it, and it feels better for you, you might prefer to work out in the evenings. On the other hand, if you simply don’t have any time left available at night, you might need to opt for morning workouts.
It truly doesn’t matter when you workout in the long run. What matters is that you find a time that allows you to be consistent and achieve all of your exercise goals.
Success with regard to exercise necessitates that you be consistent, hard-working, and willing to use science-backed methods in the gym. If you read somewhere that morning workouts are best, but your schedule doesn’t allow you to get to the gym at this time, don’t sweat it. You can get a quality workout anywhere, anytime.
Focus on the big picture items and you’ll reach your goals before you know it!
- Baz-Valle E, Balsalobre-Fernández C, Alix-Fages C, Santos-Concejero J. A Systematic Review of The Effects of Different Resistance Training Volumes on Muscle Hypertrophy. J Hum Kinet. 2022 Feb 10;81:199-210. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2022-0017. PMID: 35291645; PMCID: PMC8884877.
- Schumacher LM, Thomas JG, Raynor HA, Rhodes RE, Bond DS. Consistent Morning Exercise May Be Beneficial for Individuals With Obesity. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2020 Oct;48(4):201-208. doi: 10.1249/JES.0000000000000226. PMID: 32658039; PMCID: PMC7492403.
- Mahindru A, Patil P, Agrawal V. Role of Physical Activity on Mental Health and Well-Being: A Review. Cureus. 2023 Jan 7;15(1):e33475. doi: 10.7759/cureus.33475. PMID: 36756008; PMCID: PMC9902068.