Is Morning or Evening the Best Time to Work Out?

woman checking smartwatch
The best workout is one you can stick with — it's up to you and what works best for your body and schedule.

by Lindsay Tigar

Depending on your ability to rise with the sun or your tendency to stay up far past midnight, your energy levels may vary as the clock chugs along. If you want to make the most of your gym routine, when is the best time to work out? Earlier in the day or later? There's plenty of science on both sides, so it all depends on your personal body chemistry and fitness goals.

Here's a look at when you should schedule "hit the gym" on your overbooked calendar:

You Might Burn More Fat If You Work Out in the Morning

Looking to burn more fat and gain definition in your arms? Or, hoping to go down a size before a big event? Set that early alarm and get to the gym before breakfast. A recent study by Cambridge University found that when you sweat it out first, you can burn up to 20 percent more fat than if you eat pre-workout.

You May Have More Energy When You Sweat Past 2 p.m.

If even your barista knows not to make small talk until he's made your cappuccino, then the very thought of lifting weights before 8 a.m. may make you yawn. There's a reason for that, according to a study that investigated the connection between athletic performance and the body's internal clock. The researchers found that most people's energy levels peak between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., making these hours ideal for sneaking off to the gym.

You Might Be More Consistent With a Morning Routine

Like with anything, practice makes perfect. Fitness is no exception. The more consistently you work out, the more change you'll witness in your physique — and the more likely you'll be to keep up the habit. Early morning exercisers reap more benefits from their workouts because they tend to be more consistent, according to a recent study published in Health Psychology. In addition to being able to sneak in a workout session before work, the study indicated sun greeters also boast better immunity, more balanced moods and longer lives.

You May Sleep More Soundly If You Exercise In the Evening

Though the verdict is still out on how working out a few hours before lights-off affects your sleep, at least one study from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research sides with nighttime workouts. Researchers found that when people lifted weights in the evening, they experienced a longer and more sound sleep than those who set their alarm to complete the same routine in the morning.

 

As far as the best time to work out goes, it's a pretty fair draw. As these studies show, there are benefits to hitting the gym both in the a.m. and p.m. hours.

Ultimately, it's up to you and what works best for your body and schedule. After all, the best workout is one you can stick with! As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.