It’s up there with the most fiercely debated arguments in the workout world: cardio or strength? H.I.I.T or endurance?
To train in the morning or evening? For those of us struggling to just carve out a 40 minute block to workout is credit enough, but for the rest who want to know that they are exercising at the optimal time – this one’s for you.
Most people who exercise in the AM report to feel far more energized throughout the day, while fans of the late-night workout praise the benefits of heightened energy during the actual workout.
What are the benefits to working out in the mornings?
In the early morning hours, crucial hormones (i.e. testosterone) that help build muscle mass and burn fat are elevated in the body. So, by exercising in the morning you’re taking advantage of these naturally circulating hormones as they’re peaking, rather than later in the day when they’re lower.
From my personal experience, the chances of something or someone jeopardising your workout is much less likely in the morning. You will be able to build a consistent routine, which will give you better results in the long run and you’ll be far happier and focused when you reach the office!
Should you do it on an empty stomach?
Our muscles our designed to burn both carbohydrate and fat. We can alter which fuel we predominantly use by changing our meal choices before training, time of day we exercise, the type of exercise we do, and certain supplements taken before and during exercise.
I recommend my clients exercise first thing in the morning before eating breakfast to increase fat burning potential. The only risk you run is that your body may not have enough fuel to power through your workout, depending on how intense it may be.
In some people, caffeine, coffee and green tea taken before exercise (especially in the fasted state) may increase the amount of fat used for fuel.
If training later in the day or choosing a prolonged training session (over an hour), eat a meal without carbohydrates prior to exercise.
Should different exercises be done at different times of the day?
Technically, your body is wired to perform at its peak for strength based movements in the mid-afternoon. But things like, oh, work can get in the way of workouts at that time. When you make exercise a regular part of your AM routine, you’ll be less likely to skip it for other obligations. And once you get used to moving first thing in the morning, the body adjusts and might even surpass its afternoon performance peak.
However, as I tell all my clients, don’t sweat the small stuff. If your only option is to get your 30 minute workout in at 4.30am before the kids wake up, or at 7.30pm after your board room meeting, then that’s better than no workout at all.
Is there an optimal time for fat burning?
Without a doubt, all exercise can boost your metabolic rate. The degree depends on your current fitness level and the kind of activity you choose. All other things being equal, working out in the morning will help to boost your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories for the rest of the day. This phenomenon is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.
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