When is the best time to exercise – morning or evening?

Most often, sports are advised to do in the morning, when the body is fresh, and the problems accumulated during the day are not spinning in the head. You can also hear that exercising at this time is especially beneficial for losing weight.

This makes sense, but not everything is so simple. In fact, both morning and evening workouts have their benefits. The choice depends on what you want to achieve. Below we will analyze what time is best to train to achieve different goals.

For muscle building

Evening exercise helps build muscle faster than exercising in the morning. Moreover, the higher the training of a person, the greater the effect. For example, in one study, evening sessions provided experienced bodybuilders with a 3.2% increase in muscle mass, while the same load in the morning increased muscle by only 0.6%.

Perhaps this difference is due to fluctuations in hormone levels during the day.

For muscle building, the amount of the male sex hormone testosterone and the “stress hormone” cortisol is of great importance. The first has a positive effect on muscle growth and fat burning, the second contributes to the accumulation of fat reserves and muscle breakdown.

Testosterone production rises at night and peaks in the morning. Then the level of the hormone gradually decreases, slightly increases at 16-18 hours, and then falls again, down to the lowest values at nine in the evening.

And it would seem that since in the morning its level is the highest, it is necessary to train at dawn. But don’t forget about cortisol. Its amount increases after midnight and reaches a peak around eight in the morning, and then gradually decreases.

As a result, the most favorable ratio of testosterone to cortisol is observed in those very 16-18 hours: at this time, the male sex hormone, as mentioned earlier, rises slightly, and the stress hormone is at a low level. In addition, the activity of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) is high in the evening, another anabolic hormone that contributes to an increase in muscle mass .

Perhaps that is why after training in the afternoon, more intense anabolic signals in the muscles are noted than after training in the morning.

To increase strength

Although muscle size and strength are not the same thing , these indicators are directly related. After evening workouts, not only muscle volumes grow faster, but also your achievements in strength training. The fact is that at this time, strength , power and the level of muscle activation increase – the ability of the body to use more fibers during loads. As a result, working weights grow faster than after morning classes.

This can be partly explained by differences in body temperature that change throughout the day.

In the mornings, it is about 36.6 ° C, then gradually rises and reaches a peak at 18-21 hours. Then it starts to fall and drops to the lowest values at 3 am . The higher the body temperature, the softer and more elastic your muscles. It’s easier for you to warm up before a workout, and during the workout, the fibers work more powerfully and efficiently.

However, body temperature and muscle readiness for exercise can be increased before morning exercises. For example, if you drink coffee. One study found that 250 milligrams of caffeine provided the same neuromuscular readiness in the morning as before a caffeine-free evening workout.

To increase stamina

If strength exercises are best performed in the evening, then research data is ambiguous about aerobic endurance loads. Some studies show increased productivity in the morning, others show better results from evening sessions.

In general, we can say that it does not really matter when you run , swim, or do other aerobic work. The main thing is to do it at about the same time. Compliance with the regime causes the adaptation of the body and increases its productivity at the usual time for exercise.

For weight loss

Morning workouts help you process fat and sugar more efficiently throughout the day, and increase fat oxidation. In other words, after them, your body will be better able to cope with incoming calories and save less in reserve. At the same time, evening workouts burn more calories than morning sessions at the same intensity, so it’s hard to say what will help you get rid of fat faster.

However, if you look at the problem of losing weight in general, training in the morning is still more effective due to the effect on eating behavior.

Several studies have shown that morning exercise helps control appetite and choose healthier foods, as well as increase physical activity during the day. And since proper nutrition and general level of physical activity often mean more than training, all weight loss really should start their day with exercise.

To improve health

In addition to weight loss, morning workouts provide some other health benefits:

  • Increase the capabilities of the brain. 30 minutes of light activity in the morning, along with three-minute breaks during the work day, improves working memory and executive functions of the brain , as well as increases the level of BDNF, a protein that stimulates and maintains the development of neurons and glial cells.
  • Reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. After a few weeks of morning exercise, sleep blood pressure decreases , which is a good indicator of heart health.
  • Reduce the risk of hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetics. Low cortisol levels in the evening reduce gluconeogenesis and the body’s response to glucagon, which increases the likelihood of hypoglycemia during and after exercise. Exercising in the morning when cortisol is high has no such effects, reducing the risk of a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels.

At the same time, it must be said that regular physical activity at any time of the day will have a positive effect on weight, health and muscle mass. So the choice of training schedule primarily depends on your capabilities and preferences.

If you are used to working with the barbell in the morning, and after a work shift you feel like a squeezed lemon, you should not change the mode just because evening classes provide a slightly greater increase in strength and muscle mass. The same applies to training in the afternoon. If you like to run at this particular time, and in the morning you feel like a bag and suffer every kilometer (like me), do not turn classes into torture.

Another thing is to add after waking up a small exercise like a HIIT complex for 15-20 minutes in order to better concentrate and choose healthy food throughout the day.

Do you like morning workouts or are you more inclined towards evening sessions? Tell in the comments.

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