Here’s when you should work out for the most effective results
One of the biggest questions is when to work out for the best results. As a baseline goal, that answer lies in what you want to achieve.
When I set my sights on bodybuilding, increasing my muscle mass, and staying lean, I kept a few things in mind to get the best results.
My goal was to weight train at about 3–4 pm. I could do this because I had a flexible work environment at the time. But, there were weeks I trained twice daily and performed my cardio in the morning. Some days I’d still train in the evenings as that was supposedly an optimal time to gain muscle.
Did it work for me? Of course, it did, but it still worked for me when I had no choice but to weightlift in the mornings.
Your lifestyle can change on a year-to-year basis.
Now, I have a demanding and cutthroat job, a teenage daughter, and higher stress levels. With better job roles and more money comes responsibility too! We should keep our schedules and circadian rhythms in mind when choosing the best time to exercise.
We can’t all work out at 3 pm or even 5 pm, for that matter.
Some people are unlikely to wake up at 3 am to prepare for exercise! When finding the best time to work out, consider all the essential things in your life outside of those critical workout times.
You will stick to the plan and get the best results. You must pick a time when distractions won’t be an issue.
Here is the study
During a 12-week training program, the researcher’s picked 30 women and 26 men.
The age groups of these individuals were between 25–55.
Each person worked out for 60 minutes (resistance training, sprint intervals, stretching, or endurance training). Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays were the allocated rest days.
Everyone had a meal plan with a protein intake of 1.1–1.8g per kg. Men and women were assigned either a morning session (60 minutes @ 6.30 am or 8.30 am) or in the evenings (6.00 pm or 8.00 pm).
Participants who worked out in the mornings ate breakfast after their workouts, eating three meals every four hours. Evening exercise participants ate three meals per day, during four-hour time slots too — then a final meal after training.
Before researchers recruited anyone, they underwent a vigorous trial to assess their aerobic power, muscular endurance, flexibility, balance, strength, and other components. Unfortunately, 16 per cent of the 65 people cancelled the 12-week trial because they could not stick to the exercise and nutritional requirements of the study.
But for those who carried on like Warriors, the researchers constantly assessed many markers, including a questionnaire to gauge all participants’ feelings, moods, and satiety levels.
How did the participants progress over the 12 weeks? The great news is that everyone improved their health and athletic performance no matter what time the men or women exercised.
Female participants seemed to reduce their total body fat, abdominal and hip fat, and blood pressure. Moreover, these improvements showed up for the women who trained in the morning! Men who exercised in the evenings decreased their HDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure and altered their respiratory exchange and carbohydrate oxidization. In addition, fat seemed to become the preferred fuel source in the evenings.
Women — if you want to eliminate belly fat and blood pressure, and increase your leg muscle power, perhaps try out those morning workouts to gain these benefits.
If you would like to improve your upper body strength and muscle, power, and endurance and get yourself into a better mind, perform your workouts in the evenings.
As for men, you should work out in the evenings for improved heart, metabolic and emotional well-being. I hope this gives you some leverage in discovering the best time to work out — to effectively hit those health and body composition goals.
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