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When Should I Workout For Best Results?
Honestly, whenever fits your schedule.
Problem is, this would be a really bad article if I answered the question which gets asked a hell of a lot with that single line.
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It is the truth but we need to look into some of the myths as to why people state to workout earlier or later in the day first in relation to what you’re looking to achieve.
Should I Train First Thing?
I personally love getting my sessions in first thing in the morning, I know a lot of busy people will do this purely because they know it is done and in doing this I guarantee that the hardest part of my day is complete by 10 am.
I am ready to push and succeed throughout the day with whatever the world wants to throw at me.
I also know that by getting my session in first thing that if something happens later in the day or my energy drops I won’t have an excuse to skip the session and do other things with the time.
Some people have said that training first thing is better for fat loss, if you’ve read my articles you will know that two of the biggest factors in making sure you’re able to drop fat are being in a caloric deficit alongside managing your stress levels, high stress can mean you aren’t able to recover well enough, health and immune function drops and you end up unable to drop the fat you want (you may still drop weight in a deficit but lose muscle as a result).
Training first thing is going to burn the same amount of calories compared to if you’re putting in the exact same session with the exact same effort if you train in the evening, it’s just you’re potentially doing it on an empty stomach, which isn’t all that bad if you’re fueling yourself throughout the day.
The drawback of training first thing is that if you’re doing a really long endurance session you may need to top up your fuel during the session, or potentially you could risk putting more stress onto your body than it is ready for increasing cortisol levels to a lot higher than we currently need at this time of the day (we do need higher cortisol levels but this could potentially, over time, mean you have extremely high levels).
Should I Train Later In The Day?
Training in the evening is a lot of people’s preferred time, you’ve had a day at work and are therefore able to find a punchbag pretending it’s that douchebag client or boss who’s had it in for you all day long. If this is your preferred time then yes, go for it.
The benefits will be that you’re still getting the session in regardless of your schedule but not only that, you have a break between leaving the office and getting home meaning you’re able to take out some of your frustrations in the gym rather than on your poor partner when you walk through that front door.
Let’s also take into account what this could mean for your body at the same time.
Training when you need to in order to make it fit your schedule is the best option, it always will be but there is a massive impact on stress management when you’re training later in the day or evening, first off if you take a pre-workout supplement which includes caffeine you’re going to still have this in your system at very high levels when you go to sleep meaning it can stop you from getting good rejuvenating levels of shut-eye.
If you have a supplement with 200mg of caffeine at 5 pm then with a half-life of 5-6 hours it means that 100mg is still in your system at 10 pm, 50mg is still in your system at 3 am, it isn’t good long term to be doing this and for clients who do have to train in the evening I will recommend either actually having a pre-workout or coffee a little earlier than the directions state.
Having half or quarter of the dose, even just not having one at all if able to, you’ll find after a few sessions it really is pretty much just in your head when the other factors are on point – nutrition, sleep and stress management.
Another thing to look at is your adrenaline will be a lot higher, it won’t have the same implications that caffeine has but a few hours after you finish exercise the adrenaline will still be flowing at high levels and therefore it is something to take into account for your pre bedtime routine.
I would recommend getting blue light blocking glasses on as soon as you get home and having a good 1-2 hours before bed with no technology, have a bath, stretch, meditate, read and then when you start to feel the melatonin boosting you turn off the lights and sleep.
As you can see from these two options, asking that question ‘when should I workout for best results?’ really is a matter of personal preference.
I veer towards the early sessions due to more energy and less time to make an excuse to cancel my session if it’s ‘one of those days’ but if it’s make or break for you then always just get the session in your day where it is most likely to be completed.
If you need to look into how to plan your nutrition around this to add better results to your goals, even get your own training and stress management plan designed then let’s chat now.