While some people are full of life and put on their running shoes at the crack of dawn, others only get into gear in the evening. Finding the perfect time to train is about personal preference as well as physiology.
While some people are full of life and put on their running shoes at the crack of dawn, others only get into gear in the evening. Finding the perfect time to train is about personal preference as well as physiology. Training should feel good, but your muscles may be tense in the morning or, if you leave your workout till later in the day, it can disrupt your sleep and be counter-productive.
Advantages of working out in the middle of the day
Lots of people swear by early morning workout sessions, but if you're not able to work out before midday, don't worry! Research suggests that the body can adapt to training at a particular time of day, so if you go to the gym at 4 p.m. every day, you would end up performing better at that time than any other time of the day. These findings compare with previous research, which suggests that sticking to a specific training time can result in improved performance, higher oxygen consumption and lower perceived levels of exhaustion.
Core body temperature is an important factor determining the quality of exercise. If your body is cold the muscles will be stiff making them inefficient and susceptible to sprains, while a higher body temperature makes the muscles more flexible. Body temperature usually increases during the day, so muscle strength and endurance can peak in the late afternoon, when your body temperature is highest. The middle of the day is also when reaction times are fastest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest, which together improve performance and reduce the overall chance of injury.
Advantages of working out in the morning
It is sometimes easier to stick to a morning training routine. It is more likely that training sessions planned for the afternoon or evening will clash with other responsibilities as the day goes on. Furthermore, a busy working day can really take its toll, which can get in the way of your best exercise intentions.
Training in the morning can also be a good option for a stress-free night. Since exercise increases heart rate and body temperature, if you train in the evening it can continue to have an effect until late in the evening and disturb your sleep.
So when is the best time to train?
Ultimately, the most important thing is to find a realistic, consistent training plan, irrespective of the time. If training in the morning is best for your personal plan, make sure you warm up your muscles, which may be cold and tense straight after waking up. And in order to keep training in the middle of the day or in the evening consistent, treat your plan as an unbreakable agreement, find a training buddy and keep a sports bag in your car or at your office to keep excuses to a minimum.