Does it matter what time of day you work out? This is what the science says 1 year ago

Does it matter what time of day you work out? This is what the science says

Most people consider themselves either an early bird or night owl

Mark Wahlberg famously gets up at 2:30am before hitting the gym at 4am, whereas you may feel like you can't be spoken to until you've had a coffee much later.

Whether you function more efficiently early in the day or much later on, you may have wondered how this impacts on your time in the gym.

The findings from 11 separate studies were recently combined into an overall review. All 11 of which focussed on training and time of day.

Mark Wahlberg is in the gym at 4am, but the timing of your workouts just needs to fit your lifestyle

Does it really matter when you work out? Here's what the science says.

Results from training


In general, you are stronger in the evening.

Looking at the results from the 11 studies, scientists said "a significant difference in strength between morning and evening is evident, with greater strength observed in the evening hours".

If you're looking to boost your one rep max on all major lifts, it may therefore be worth holding off on training until you finish work or get some free evening time.

However, does this mean that later workouts are infinitely better? Not quite.

You can still reach your potential and get as strong as possible if you're lifting in the morning. All you need to do is apply consistency to your training.

In terms of muscle growth rather than strength, there is very little difference - if any - between morning and evening training.

Muscle gain is not affected by the time of day you train

Scientists said "increases in muscle size are similar irrespective of the time of day at which the training is performed."

If you are hitting the gym to improve your performance in football, rugby or a more specialised sport such as powerlifting, it may be worth organising some of your workouts to coincide with the event time.

Importance of adherence

Succeeding with your fitness goals ultimately depends on being able to stick to your plan. While you may be slightly stronger in the evening at least in the beginning, your body will eventually adapt to whatever time you train.

When you have become used to the time of day you work out, there won't really be any noticeable differences in your results.

Just make sure you pick the time of day when you're most likely to stick to a routine. If your job or social life has you busy every evening, you'll find morning workouts much easier to stick to. Similarly, if you need a couple of hours to get into gear, a later session may pay dividends.

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