Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Category: "Training Time"

More Discussion into Morning vs. Evening Exercise

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!

Strength and Conditioning Tips

I have compiled a helpful list of training tips below that I am sure everyone can learn something from, enjoy!

Training Time

This tip is actually a twofer (broken into 2 parts). Men and women alike are always asking when the best time of the day is to work out, so that is why this is broken into two. For men (generalizing here), they want to know when the best time of day is to work out to grow big, strong muscles. Many people will tell you that working out in the afternoon or evening is the best time for muscle growth for a number of reasons, but simply is not true. The Journal for Strength and Conditioning Research has said that consistency is the key here. If you only have time to hit the weights in the morning, do that! The study showed that men made equal strength gains regardless of what time of day they worked out.

Similarly, women (again, generalizing) want to know when the best time of day is to exercise to burn fat. Again, consistency is the key. There are pros and cons to exercising either morning or night. For example, exercising in the morning can rev your metabolism for the rest of the day, whereas exercising in the evening has the potential to burn more calories as your body's metabolism is potentially at its highest. As I have said before, doing something is always better than doing nothing, so if you only have time in the morning to exercise, do that! I personally exercise in the morning because that's what fits my schedule, but if it doesn't suit you, then fine!

Pack on the Protein

I see this one time and time again. People think that in order to grow big, strong muscles, they need to cram as much protein into each meal as possible. Studies have shown that eating 30 grams of protein in a meal yields the same benefits of eating 90 grams does. This is a perfect example of "more isn't necessarily better". Instead, you should aim to have protein in small doses throughout the day. Keep one thing in mind, however. Protein seems to have this aura attached to it now that it is this wonderful "weight-loss" food. Protein still has calories, and ingesting too much protein can still result in unwanted body fat if unused, so make sure your diet is properly proportioned. Not only that, but if all you are doing is eating protein all day, you will likely be missing out on important vitamins and nutrients that can only be found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables!

Muscle Loss

For the longest time, there was this belief that as people age, their muscle tissue decreases. This is in fact true, but this is a sort of chicken-and-egg problem. Does your muscle tissue disappear because you age, or because you stop using your muscles as you age? Studies are now showing that it is in fact possible to continue muscle growth with strength improvements later in life. Yes, men have lowered testosterone as they age, but there is more to it than that. Once you hit the age of 65, sure, you may not be making major muscle gains, but you can still use resistance training to reduce the loss of muscle. Not only that, men and women can greatly benefit from resistance training throughout life to help strengthen bones, muscles and connective tissues!

Do It For Your Brain

Sure, many people like to exercise to try and look a certain way. Unfortunately, many personal trainers will market these types of things to you as well. I have a swift kick of reality for you though. Unless you have tremendous genetics, or photoshop (or a combination of the two), you are never going to look like some of those models or Hollywood celebrities. Not only that, but chasing "the perfect image" will only end in disappointment and despair. Instead, you should exercise to feel better about yourself in your own skin, not to mention the mental and body benefits that comes along with it. Think of how great you feel after a good workout. Wouldn't that be great to bottle that up and take a swig of that every day for the rest of your life?

Go Fast and then Go Home

I probably sound like a broken record here, but unfortunately some people just don't get it. I see and get asked by people all the time why they are not getting/seeing results from working out an hour or more at a time. I then see them slowing jogging on a treadmill or elliptical. Instead, why not try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and cut your workout times in half? Chronic cardio should only be used if you are training for...wait for it...a cardio event such as a marathon or triathlon, etc. Instead, most people can get into their gym, exercise using HIIT principles for 20-30mins and then be done with an even better workout than something that takes twice the time.

A study done by McMaster University in Hamilton found that men who performed sprint interval training for a total of 2.5 hours (including recovery) over the course of 2 weeks has the same results as the group who performed endurance training for a total of 10.5 hours over the same time period. Yes, its alright to go back and read that again. 1/5th of the time for the same results! Another study following a group of 15 women found that high-intensity exercise (40 to 45 minutes approximately four times weekly at a mean HR of 163 bpm) reduced body fat by about 5 percent over the course of 15 weeks versus a virtually unchanged percentage in the group that performed exercise at a lower heart rate (132 beats per minute).

-Tyler Robbins