I personally enjoy exercising first thing in the morning before my day starts. I find that this allows me to remove all excuses that would otherwise prevent me from working out. Life events, work commitments, family needs, etc. can all get in the way and prevent me from working out later in the day. This system works for me, as it does for a lot of people.
I am therefore interested in knowing if there are specific advantages/disadvantages to working out at different times of the day. I have always wondered if I would be better off not only exercising at other times of the day, but would I benefit more in certain aspects of fitness at varying times of the day. For example, I have read that it is potentially better to resistance train in the evening as your bodily temperatures are at their highest, increasing gains. I was therefore intrigued when I recently read a research paper titled: The effect of strength training at the same time of the day on the diurnal fluctuations of muscular anaerobic performances.
The aim of the study was to see if there were any significant differences between training in the morning (7-8am) and training in the evening (5-6pm). Participants in the study underwent an 8-week, 3 day-a-week, training regimen that consisted of lower-body resistance exercises.
Each of the participants were tested before the study, as well as 2 weeks following the 8-week training regimen to allow for proper recovery and adaptation. One key point here is that the final tests were completed at the same time of day that the training occurred. For example, the morning training group took their final fit testing between 7-8am.
Their findings suggest that "adaptation to strength training is greater at the time of day during which training was performed than at other times." To translate that, their suggest that individuals who are training for a specific event would benefit the most from training at that specific time of day. For example, let's say a powerlifter had a competition coming up, and they were to be competing at 10am. This study suggests that they would therefore benefit most from training at 10am leading up to competition.
How does this correlate to personal workouts? Well, if you are looking to benefit the most from working out, whether it be at a gym or at home, this study suggests that you are better off working out at the same time of day, every training day, rather than staggering your workouts. Although working out is not the same as competition, I now know that after training in the mornings for an extended period of time, my peak performance for further workouts will be at that time.
Myself, personally, I generally workout at the same time every day through the week but tend to sleep in a bit longer on weekends. I may try and transition myself to try and stay as consistent as possible form now on!