Are Morning Workouts More Effective?
Morning workouts burn more fat. Evening workouts yield better strength gains. Flexibility is best in the evening. Afternoons are best for heavy lifting. With all the time you’ve got on your hands (pfffffffffttt...), you’re probably wondering which of your many idle hours each day to devote to exercise. How do you sort through the research and block out the hype?
Before you consider anything else...
The best advice I can give you is to choose the time of day when it is easiest for you to schedule your workouts and stick with your plan. No matter how motivated you are to be one of those morning jog chicks, if you’ve got 4 kids to get out the door to school and a partner who works the night shift, morning is probably not your “zen” time. Perhaps you might aim for a pre-lunch, post laundry jog or an after-dinner workout while your partner hangs out with the little ones. The point is, be realistic about your daily schedule and choose the time that you are least likely to blow off your workout plans. One thing mommies can almost always count on: naptime and bedtime. Try scheduling your workouts while baby is sleeping or after the kids are in bed for the evening. Got a no-napper? Or a night-owl? Try a workout you can do with your little one in a carrier or a quick 10-minute workout that won’t derail your busy day.
So, now... back to our original question. Perhaps you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and still living in a child-free universe. Maybe you are an empty-nester or have older kids who don’t demand as much of your schedule as they used to. I hate you. Good for you! You have options! Here is a round-up of the research to help you make the best decision for your workout routine.
If you have a choice, what time of day is best for a workout?
Morning is the time of day we recommend most frequently to our BB personal training clients. Morning can be 6:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m., depending on your lifestyle and schedule - the key is that exercise is one of the very first things you do in the day. Why? Almost nothing can interfere with a morning exercise appointment – really... how often do you get invited out for drinks at 6:00 a.m.? Studies show morning exercisers are most successful at sticking with their workout plans. For most people, consistency is the biggest challenge in getting and staying fit, and morning exercisers seem to have an edge.
Morning workouts also:
- Rev the metabolism for the day
- Give you an energy buzz to start your work day and increase productivity
- Make you feel as if you’ve accomplished something important and help you feel more positive for the rest of the day
- Motivate you to eat better for the rest of the day
- Burn proportionally more fat than later workouts, particularly if done before breakfast
More and more studies are coming out with evidence that some of the best strength and endurance gains can be made later in the day, when the body’s core temperature is higher. Great! On the other hand, exercising too intensely in the evening can rev your body and brain up if you're not used to working out at that time, making it difficult to fall asleep. If you like late evening workouts (and it is one of the most common workout times for working mommies), consider building up the intensity of your evening workout and ensuring you are still able to nod off at a reasonable hour before upping the intensity. Generally, though, late afternoon and evening workouts are probably the optimal time for muscle building.
Late afternoon/evening workouts also:
- Are less likely to cause injury because muscles and ligaments are warmer
- Have a greater impact on healthy hormone & blood sugar levels
- Can help relieve the day’s stress and help you to sleep once you adjust to an evening workout schedule
- May help you to avoid late-night snacking urges by keeping you busy and naturally suppressing your appetite
Different days bring different challenges, so sometimes a combination of early and later workouts are best over the course of a week. My top tip for scheduling is to look at your week ahead of time, perhaps in a few quiet moments on the weekend, and schedule your workouts for the week ahead. Use your daybook or your iPhone and make appointments with yourself, even if they're just 10 or 20 minutes each.
One day, you'll have enough time to decide whether you're a morning exerciser or an evening exerciser. I promise.