Is it Better to Workout in the Morning or Night?

The debate about whether it’s better to work out in the morning or at night has been going on for years. Some people swear by getting up early and hitting the gym before the day begins, while others prefer to work out in the evening as a way to unwind after a long day. So, is there really a “right” time to exercise? In this article, we’ll examine the research to determine whether it’s better to be an early bird or a night owl when it comes to working out.

Does It Depend on Your Gender?

If you’re a man, it turns out that an evening workout offers more benefits than exercising in the morning. According to a study conducted by the University of North Texas, men who exercised in the evening had lower blood pressure readings than those who worked out in the morning. This is likely because testosterone levels are highest in the evening, making it the most optimal time for men to exercise. Additionally, evening workouts have been shown to help promote better sleep, which is crucial for overall health.

For women, the answer is a bit more complicated and depends on your fitness goals. If your goal is to burn fat, then morning workouts may be best and it's better to do morning workouts on an empty stomach. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that women who worked out in the morning burned 20% more fat throughout the day than those who exercised in the afternoon or evening, regardless of the type of exercise. This is because working out on an empty stomach can help to increase the amount of fat burned during the workout.

However, if you’re looking to build muscle, then evening workouts may be the way to go. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who lifted weights in the evening saw greater increases in muscle size and strength than those who lifted in the morning. This is likely because cortisol levels, which can inhibit muscle growth, are lower in the evening. It's also advisable to take a protein shake after your night workout to repair damaged muscle tissues better.

When Is the Best Time to Work Out?

For men, an evening workout offered more benefits. A study from the University of Carolina found that men had a higher anaerobic capacity, muscle overload, and hormonal environment after a workout performed between 4 to 7 pm. These results suggest that men's bodies are better equipped to handle high-intensity exercises in the evening.
For women, the answer varied, depending on whether the goal was to burn fat or build muscle. If you're targeting fat loss, it's better to do morning workouts on an empty stomach. A recent study published in the journal Obesity found that exercising between 7 am and 9 am could help with weight loss. On the other hand, if you're looking to build muscle, evening workouts are more advantageous. According to an article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women's muscle-building potential peaks between 5 pm to 7 pm.

Listening to Your Body

It's important to note that our bodies have internal clocks, known as circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep-wake cycles and overall health. Some people are naturally early birds, while others are night owls. When it comes to your workouts, it's best to listen to your body and choose a time that aligns with your natural rhythms. Attempting to force yourself into a morning or night workout routine that goes against your body's natural tendencies may ultimately burn you out. The key is to find the time that works best for you and stick to it.

Morning Workouts vs Night Workouts - Pros and Cons

As the world becomes more fast-paced, it is sometimes difficult to balance exercise routines with other aspects of life. To some, getting up early to work out may seem like a daunting task, while to others, it simply means dedicating a portion of their day to physical and mental health. Read on and we will dive into the pros and cons of morning and night workouts to help you make a well-informed decision about incorporating them into your daily routine.

Pros of Morning Workouts

1. Jumpstarting Your Metabolism

Given that your body has been fasting through the night, a morning workout can help increase your metabolism for the day, helping you burn calories throughout the day.

2. Time Management

Once your body gets into the rhythm of morning workouts, it becomes increasingly easier to make time during the rest of the day for other activities.

3. Improved Quality of Sleep

Exercise helps relieve stress and tension in your muscles and improves the quality of your sleep, helping your body feel rejuvenated for the day ahead.

4. Consistency

Inconsistency is one of the primary reasons why people abandon their fitness journeys. A morning routine creates a discipline to stay consistent with your workout schedule.

Cons of Morning Workouts

1. Loss of Sleep

If you're not used to getting up early, a morning workout may cause you to lose sleep, leading to an overall reduced energy level throughout the day.

2. Body Adjustments

A morning workout may take some getting used to, and there is a possibility that you might feel less energized during the first few attempts. Another disadvantage can be that you may not have as much energy for intense workouts compared to exercising in the evening. If you don't have much time in the morning, you might have to cut your workout short, too. Additionally, your body temperature is lower in the morning, meaning it may take longer for your muscles to warm up, and you will need to be extra careful with your warm-up routine.

3. Eating Habits

Working out on an empty stomach can lead to dizziness and low energy levels, which could contribute to decreased performance.

4. Weather Conditions

Exercising outdoors is exciting, but it can also come with the challenge of battling unfavorable weather conditions such as cold, rain, or snow.

Pros of Evening Workouts

Pros of Evening Workouts

One significant benefit of working out in the evening is that it can help you relieve stress accumulated during the day. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which can boost your mood and reduce anxiety levels.

2. Increased Energy

Contrary to popular belief, evening workouts, when done appropriately, can help increase energy levels and promote better sleep. Additionally, your body temperature is higher in the evening, making it perfect for intense exercising. By raising your heart rate and body temperature a few hours before bedtime, you can experience a natural energy boost and avoid insomnia symptoms.

3. Time Efficiency

With most people's schedules becoming more flexible, many people opt to work out after work. Evening workouts can be a time-efficient solution for fitting exercise into your schedule. This is especially helpful for those who work long hours or have limited time during the day to exercise.

Cons of Evening Workouts

1. Fatigue

Depending on your schedule, you may feel exhausted by the end of the day. Exercising when you are already worn out can lead to poor exercise form, decreased performance, and even injuries.
2. Sleep Quality
For some people, exercising too close to bedtime can cause difficulty falling or staying asleep. The raised heart rate and body temperature can make it harder to settle down for the night, causing sleep disruptions.
3. Crowded Gyms
As the day goes on, gyms tend to become more crowded. Depending on your location, this may mean waiting for equipment, navigating through a sea of people, and potentially hindering your workout experience.

Tips for Morning or Evening Workouts:

  1. Time Management

To avoid feeling drained before your workout, plan your schedule accordingly. Take quick power naps during the day, nourish your body with nutritious meals and snacks, and avoid engaging in activities that can zap your energy levels before your workout.
  1. Sleep Hygiene

If you exercise in the evenings, make sure to allow enough time for your body to cool down and relax before bedtime. Engage in relaxation techniques such as stretching, foam rolling, or meditation to prepare your mind and body for sleep.
  1. Equipment Availability

If your gym is often crowded, consider booking specific time slots or trying alternative exercise routines, such as outdoor biking, or home workouts such as indoor cycling.
  1. The Importance of Consistency

Regardless of what time of day you choose, the most important factor is consistency. Consistently working out at the same time every day creates a habit and makes it easier to stick to your routine. In addition, your body adjusts to a predictable schedule, making it easier to anticipate when it’s time to work out. Consistency also helps with achieving your fitness goals, as you are less likely to skip workouts or miss milestones.

Other Factors to Consider

Several other factors can influence your decision on when to work out. These include your work and family schedule, proximity to the gym, and personal preferences. For instance, if you have a fixed schedule at work or need to take care of your children, then you may want to plan your workout around those obligations. If you live far from the gym, then it may be more beneficial to work out at home. Lastly, personal preference plays a huge role in choosing the right time. If you find that you can only work out with a friend or partner, then it may be better to coordinate your schedules and work out together.
Ultimately, when it comes to exercising, it's always essential to choose the time that works best for you. While both morning and evening workouts have benefits and drawbacks, the right choice depends on lifestyle, training goals, and personal preferences. Working out in the morning can be best for those looking for productivity boosts, while evening workouts provide an excellent way to end the day. Whatever you decide, consistency is the key to enjoying those physical and mental health benefits brought by exercising.