When it comes to meticulous programming questions, not many are more common than, “What time
of the day is the best time to work out?”
Common wisdom is to simply workout whenever you can as long as you adhere to the schedule.
If there was a time-of-day planning hierarchy of importance, unquestionably adherence lays
Following immediately is choosing a time you personally feel that you can perform the most
effectively, be it day, noon, or night.
No point in scheduling workouts at times you know that your performance simply won’t
be up to snuff.
But, going from here, there still lies some importance to selecting an explicit time.
One notion is to base our workout scheduling on circadian core body temperature cycles,
considering that research have shown that diurnal peak performance patterns tend to
follow similar curves.
Based on the data, we should train when our body is the warmest, which is roughly between
4 to 7pm.
But the thing is, findings have shown that these strength and aerobic performance patterns
can be heavily influenced by adaptations to temporal specificity.
Simply put, temporal specificity means, to achieve the greatest performance improvements,
it’s best to always schedule your workouts around the same time of day, allowing your
body to specifically adapt to and prepare the body for training at that time.
This is especially imperative for competitive athletes.
They probably want to train around the same time of day as their typical events.
The general consensus of the research shows this, with a 2012 review of such studies distinctly
issuing this practical application above all else.
Train at the same time of day as much as you can.
However, this is in terms of performance only.
The same cannot be said about muscle growth.
When looking at muscle growth in the quads, a 2009 study found a slight trend towards
favoring training in the evening between 5 to 7pm.
This goes against beliefs at the time that considered morning workouts superior when
testosterone levels are higher.
Apparently, acute spikes of test don’t tell the full story.
Comparatively, it was only a .8 percent difference between morning and evening groups over a
span of 10 weeks, drawing no statistical significance.
Fast-forward 7 years later, though, we HAVE new research that might shed some extra light
on the matter.
Likewise, after 12 weeks, there wasn’t much of a difference in muscle growth between morning
and evening training but trends again favor the evening (9.3 to 11.3).
But unlike the 2009 paper, this study continued the experiment for an additional 12 weeks.
In this second set of 12 weeks, there WAS a significant difference in growth, with the
evening group achieving on average twice as much growth as the morning group.
Throughout the entire 24 weeks, the evening group had on average, 5.3 percent more total
So, let’s recap: Nothing’s more important than finding time
in your schedule to fit training sessions you can stick to.
Make exercise a habit first.
Next is choosing a time where you can perform your best physically and mentally so that
you get quality training sessions done.
This is based entirely up to personal preference.
Then, if possible, try to regularly set each of your training sessions at around the same
time of day.
As we know now, your body can benefit to time-specific training adaptations.
And finally, if you still have some wiggle room, try to make that specific training time
in the evening between 4 to 7pm if you want a slight edge in muscle growth.
But do note, it’s not necessary to get all of the 4 steps done.
Simply going to the gym regularly and trying your best will probably be enough for most.
If you are the meticulous programmer though, that wants to squeeze out every possible “gains”
you can muster, then certainly give all four a shot.
What time of the day do you find best for your workouts?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
As always, thank you for watching and get your protein!