Are you a morning person or a night owl? When is the best time to work out?
Do you get excited about the idea of putting on your sneakers as soon as you get out of bed? Or can you only think about exercise once 5 pm hits?
The great old debate of when the best time to exercise still continues. Some fitness professionals will tell you that the best time to work out is in the morning, while others will tell you the opposite.
Is it best to work out in the morning or at night?
Personally, I believe that there is no problem with either option. If you’re getting out and exercising at any time of day, then I’m so proud of you! It’s much better to work out at a time that suits you, rather than not work out at all.
But, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each:
Some people find the best time to work out is in the morning. They wake up with a bounce in their step, ready to tackle the gym or go for a run.
Morning exercisers tend to feel better and more energised throughout the day. They also tend to make better food choices throughout the day.
It is easier to stay on track with your workouts first thing in the morning. There are no family interruptions, evening plans, traffic jams, late office nights, or social invitations.
Fatigue from a long day can also lead to skipped evening workouts. So, it’s better to do it in the morning.
Fewer crowds – gyms are busier in the evening, and you’ll find footpaths are quieter in the morning too.
Evening workouts are favoured by most people as the best time to exercise … usually, the ones that are often found snoozing their alarms in the morning!
Is the best time to exercise at night?
It’s an effective way to relieve stress. Studies have linked increased stress levels to weight gain thanks to the release of cortisol, so getting rid of stress after a hard day will help keep weight in check.
After an evening workout, you are more likely to be reaching for water rather than wine. This is a great benefit!
PM workouts help you sleep better after burning off excess energy. As long as your workout isn’t 2 hours before bed time.
Working out later in the day means that you are able to do tougher workouts. Your body has been able to fuel itself with healthy foods throughout the day and you have more glucose for energy.
Gyms offer more classes in the evenings – you may not be able to find your favourite one in the morning.
Walking or running in the evening may be safer than in the morning as there are more people around.
Missing social activities – dinner invitations, girls’ nights, etc
You may have to work late – meaning it’s dark when you leave the office, or you miss your favourite class at the gym.
Something could happen with the family, which means you don’t have time for yourself.
You couldn’t think of anything worse after a dreadful day. The only thing you want to do is curl up on the couch with a good movie. There’s more chance that you’ll skip your PM workout.
Tips for surviving evening workouts
Make sure your friends know your best time to work out so they don’t invite you out. Temptation can be your worst enemy!
Adjust your family meal time to allow for a workout when you get home from work.
Unless you work from home, then you will have a commute from work that you can use to your advantage. Instead of driving, can you cycle home? If you take a bus or train, can you get off a few stops early and walk or run the rest of the way?
If not, drive straight to the gym after work, rather than going home first. If you go home first, you might feel tempted to just stay there.
Even if you don’t feel like working out, remember that the release of endorphins can make you feel so much better! A bad mood can turn into a good mood really easily.
Is the best time to exercise before or after eating?
Again, this is a heavily debated topic with different health and fitness professionals favouring one over the other.
If you’re wondering what is the best time to exercise before or after eating, here are some things you should know.
Exercising before eating
Exercising without food in your stomach can cause your body to burn more fat. But, if you’re doing a strenuous workout (such as HIIT or running), you might not be able to train as hard compared to if you had food before.
After your workout, you should make sure you eat a meal within 2 hours of finishing your workout. A meal that contains carbs and protein will help your muscles recover and replace glycogen stores. This is an optimum time to eat because your body will use the food to replenish glycogen stores rather than store fat :)
Exercising after eating
Eating before exercising gives your body fuel to do tougher workouts and improves your performance.
You should eat a meal that is low fat, but high in protein and carbs around 3-4 hours before exercise.
If you are sticking to an early morning workout routine, then it is obviously going to be impossible to eat a meal a few hours before. You should make sure to eat a great healthy breakfast after your workout to ensure your body is fuelled to get through the day. If you need a small snack before your morning workout, it’s best to eat something high in carbs such as a banana.
So, what is the best time of day to exercise?
If your schedule is super busy and you have little ones that may keep you from sticking to a workout program, then exercising at any time is fine. People are more successful when they stick to a regular workout routine, but I understand this can be hard. Fitting it in at any time is better than not doing a workout at all.
Do whatever you can do, whenever you can do it – as long as you are doing something, that’s the best time to work out!
If you have no problem getting up in the morning and love to feel refreshed for the day, then AM workouts will suit you well. On the other hand, if you would prefer to have a work out buddy, access to more gym classes or you start work early, then PM workouts might suit you better.
And if you haven’t checked it out already, my 3 Steps to Lean Legs program has easy to follow workout routines that you can fit into your schedule morning or night (no gym required!)
What is your favourite time to work out? Let me know in the comments section below! Xx
Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.
After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.
Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.