Ask The Expert

What’s The Best Time To Work Out? (5 Experts Answer)

We asked a group of fitness experts to explain when the best time to work out is. Here is what they said

Best Time To Work Out
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Have you ever wondered what the best time to work out is?

If you’re anything like us, you’ll have experimented with various workout routines over the years, including what time of the day suits you best.

Of course, not everyone can pick and choose exactly when they work out. Commitments such as work and family life can have a big bearing on specifically when the best time to work out is for you.

But what do the experts have to say about the best time to work out?

We asked a selected group of fitness experts for their top tips when it comes to the timing of your workouts.

Here is what they said.

Editor's note: The content on this website is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. Our articles and the products featured in them are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Always speak with a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, exercise routine, and/or taking any supplements.

Morning May Be Best – But Don’t Forget To Warm Up

Jake Maulin, General Manager and Master Instructor at CycleBar Naples

In my experience, there is no best time to exercise from an efficiency or
calorie burning standpoint – it’s more when you feel best exercising and can maintain a consistent routine.

While your body clock usually dictates if you’re an early bird or night owl, there are definitely other considerations when determining the best time to exercise, such as your work schedule, family commitments and whether you want to exercise with a friend.

If you can’t seem to stick to a routine, morning may be the best time to exercise as you get it out of the way and potentially have fewer distractions and reasons to procrastinate.

Just be aware if you exercise in the morning when your body temperature is lower, you need to allow for more time to warm-up and preclude any chance of injury.

There is research that suggests that flexibility and strength are greater in the late afternoon when your body temperature rises and peaks.

There is also some science suggesting that your perceived exertion level is lowest in the afternoon — again, arguing for exercising in the afternoon or early evening.

But our die-hard morning riders would argue against this, saying they have more energy in the morning and they believe it jump-starts their metabolism for the rest of the day.

The net-net, the best time to work out is whenever you can as it’s more important to move your body, regardless of the time of day.

If you’re still unsure and have the flexibility to try different times of day, track your progress so your body can tell you at what time is optimal for you.

Core Workout

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Later Workouts May Not Be As Detrimental As Once Thought

Jerome G. Enad, MD, Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon and Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist

Trying to determine the best time of day to exercise is an active area of research for scientists.

Although previous recommendations suggested that exercise near bedtime is detrimental, newer evidence suggests that this may not necessarily be true.

For short duration/maximal exercises (e.g., sprints, jumps, isometric contractions), multiple scientific studies in adults and children have now shown peak performance effects (of 1.7 to 29.4 per cent improvement in peak power, speed, or serum biologic markers) in the afternoon hours (4 pm to 8 pm).

For longer duration/submaximal exercise, treadmill and bicycle studies have also shown peak performance during early evening versus morning hours based on ventilatory gas exchange, serum markers, and perceived level of exertion.

Most of these studies were done in healthy volunteers who regularly exercise anyway, so these results may not be generalizable to sedentary adults or exercise beginners, those with cardiac or respiratory disease, or people with diabetes or other metabolic conditions.

Therefore, for healthy people who exercise regularly, maximum benefit will occur with exercise during afternoon or evening hours.

However, the current recommendation for good health is that exercise any time of day is still better than no exercise at all.

Running Man Sun

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Best Time To Work Out Is When You Can Do It Consistently

Kelly Bryant, Founder of Kelly Bryant Wellness, Certified Personal
Trainer and Registered Yoga Teacher

The best time of day to work out is the time that you can get it done consistently.

Some people may have more energy first thing in the morning, or may want to hit the gym after the kids are in bed. While that certainly should be taken into consideration, it can’t help you if you’re spending your mornings making breakfast or your evenings binge-watching that show with your spouse and aren’t finding the time to get it done.

Even if you can only give 90 per cent, but you can get your workout in at a certain time, that’s better than skipping it altogether.

Plus, your body may get used to your new workout time and start providing more energy.

Besides the time that works best, you can also consider where you’re working out and when that space is less crowded.

If you love the elliptical machine, or the squat rack at your gym, but they are always in demand at 7am, you may want to shift your workout time.

Again, the idea is to make sure that you can get your workout in, instead of waiting for the stars to align for the perfect workout.

Woman Gym Workout

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Work Out When It Feels Best For You

Carol Michaels, Personal Trainer and Public Speaker at Carol Michaels Fitness

The simple answer is to exercise whenever it best fits your schedule or your energy level.

Some people are early risers and can make time for a workout before they start their day, while some have more energy at the end of the day.

For the general public, the best time to exercise is whenever you can do the workout.

Since many companies now have a gym available to their employees, a lunch time workout may be a good option, as long as there is a place to shower before returning to the office.

I generally recommend exercising first thing in the morning so that you are able to exercise without having interruptions.

Exercising before gong to sleep may cause one to be energized. If you leave exercise for the end of the day, there is also a chance that something may interrupt or prevent you from working out.

Man Gym Workout

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

It Depends On When You’re Going To Train Most Effectively

Elliott Upton, NASM-certified Senior Personal Trainer and Head of Online Training at Ultimate Performance

The timing of when you workout is not necessarily important. However, there are a few real-world factors that need to be taken into account.

Firstly, when are you going to train most effectively? When are you going to be able to put the most effort in? When are you going to have the most energy? When are you going to be able to train most efficiently and effectively unencumbered by a busy gym or distractions on your phone?

Secondly, some people feel stronger in the mornings than in the evenings. For some people, they feel their best in the afternoon or early evening. It is whatever is best for you.

Again, timing your workout – you will probably be more compliant or more consistent in the morning because you get it done and get it out of the way.

If you train late or in the evening, you may feel stronger because you have got more food in your system, but training can spike your cortisol (stress hormone) levels which may negatively affect your sleep (poor sleep quality is shown to compromise recovery and performance).

More important than timing, because everyone is different, is the frequency with which you train – how far apart you are training muscle groups day by day. That is vital.

It comes down training hard and then how effectively you can recover and manage stress. When you train, you create an acute stress response, which your body then recovers from and adapts to.

So the most important thing is to train hard, manage stress and recovery, sleep well and the foods that will support your goals.

Woman Workout

Following a sensible workout plan and sticking to a good diet are important when it comes to weight loss (Photo: Adobe Stock)

At Ultimate Performance, we only ask our clients to train three times per week – they are often highly stressed and time-poor, so three weekly sessions allows balance, good recovery while optimising the volume, intensity and frequency of training.

You are always going to get better results from doing three sessions that you can absolutely crush then recover from and sleep well, as opposed to waking up at 4am and training every single day but not training effectively, having poor quality workouts and then under-recovering and sleeping poorly.

Sleep loss can increase the drive to eat, reduce gym performance, cause muscle loss, reduce the amount of body fat you lose whilst dieting and increase your risk for and sensitivity to pain.

From an objective standpoint, working out when you are able to perform at your best and get the maximum output from your training is always going to be the most important factor.

From a personal standpoint, I find working out in the morning preferential for a number of reasons.

Firstly, by getting up earlier, you’re more likely to go to bed earlier. Getting to bed earlier and sleeping better will mean you recover better, your stress hormones will be lower, your pain tolerance will be higher, your immune system will function better, and you will be better able to regulate appetite.

Sleep is a cornerstone of good health – so generally every aspect of your health and well-being will improve with better sleep – including your ability to build muscle and burn fat.

Secondly, by getting it done first thing in the morning – before you do anything else or before your email inbox, work schedule or competing life commitments take over – it means you are less likely to skip the workout.

This is compared to later in the day, when your schedule might take over or you might be tired or demotivated after work and more likely to skip your workout session.

It also means you are less likely to have a sub-optimal workout later in the day if you are tired, low on energy, demotivated or just short on time.

Thirdly, because you have to get your workout done before you get ready for work or your day, you will likely train with more vigour and intensity to get through the workout. The chances are you will train a little bit harder or with a little more intensity which will likely help improve results.

Also, the chances are that if you are waking up at 5am, you are likely to be training fasted. There is some evidence to suggest, certainly from a body fat point of view, that fasted training increases hormone sensitive lipase which is an enzyme that helps break down fat to be used as energy by your body.

Generally, if you get up early and the first positive thing you do in the day is training, you feel good, you’ll get endorphins, you get blood pumped around your body and brain – and that’s going to mean you go to work and you do things more productively, you feel better, your stress hormones go down and it all creates a positive feedback loop which will improve all aspects of your health, recovery, training and nutrition.

You will have more time in the evening to relax and unwind – and sleep better.

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