If you workout on a regular basis, there’s a very good chance you’ve settled into a routine that you’ve followed over the years, whether it involves waking up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym, skipping out of work for an hour to get your pump on, or taking out your frustrations after a long day with a lifting session.
I’ve always been an evening gym guy because mornings are the bane of my existence and dealing with the post-work ground is my personal version of hell on Earth, but despite years of tradition, I recently found myself wondering if I’ve actually been doing myself a disservice by hitting up the gym at the end of the day.
As a result, I decided it was time to consult people with more knowledge than I have to see if I’ve been shooting myself in the foot for the past decade by stopping by the gym after the sun begins to set.
Here’s what I discovered.
What’s The Best Time Of Day To Work Out?
I’ve heard plenty of people argue there are merits to heading to the gym first thing in the morning. An article published by Shape outlined some of the many benefits of working out first thing; for example, the gym tends to be less crowded and you don’t have to deal with unexpected inconveniences that might get in the way of working out later in the day.
Additionally, as Heart.org notes, early morning visits tend to make you crave food that will kickstart your metabolism and give you the fuel you need to take on the world for the rest of the day—a claim that seems to be supported by NIFS, which states:
One of the first biological reasons working out in the morning can be effective is the increased levels of testosterone (especially in males) that happen first thing when you wake up. Overnight our bodies begin to increase their testosterone production.
Because of this, our testosterone levels are highest upon awakening. As you may or may not know, testosterone is the hormone that promotes muscle growth. The more testosterone we have in our bodies while working out, the more efficient our bodies will be at muscle production.
Taking advantage of this morning boost of testosterone can help build muscle more efficiently.
That’s not to say there aren’t other benefits to postponing your workout until later in the day. Some people lack the fuel they need to maximize the benefits of exercise in the morning and you may theoretically have more energy after consuming food over the course of the day. It’s also a great way to relieve any stress you may have dealt with prior to the evening.
On the flip side, Shape also noted post-workout insomnia is a very real thing and the inability to sleep after lifting on the later side could have a negative effect on your overall well-being.
PopSugar recently consulted Dr. Avigdor Arad, a scientist specializing in fitness to look into the issue. He had this to say:
“It’s important to know that the time of the exercise is not necessarily making the difference. If you exercise in the morning, if you exercise in the afternoon, if you exercise at night, it has a very similar effect.”
As a result, it doesn’t appear the time of day you work out will have a significant impact on the gains you make. When everything is said and done, it essentially boils down to consistency—you shouldn’t stress too much about the time of day assuming you can visit the gym on a consistent basis.