A friend recently posted a question on Facebook: What time of day do you like to work out? Answers varied, but most chose morning as their favorite time to exercise. For many people, getting to the gym bright and early is an ideal start to the day. Besides avoiding big crowds and not having to wait to use machines, it sets the tone for healthy patterns the rest of the day. Whether or not it’s best to work out in the morning, however, is debatable. While some thrive on exercise at the crack of dawn, others get better results midday or in the evening. It all depends on you, your body and your schedule.
Regardless of what time of day you work out, you’re doing the right thing by making exercise part of your routine. Here’s a look at the pros for each time slot:
Rise and shine
Early morning is my personal favorite time to work out. Not only is it quiet in the gym, allowing me to remain focused and use my favorite equipment without waiting in line or working in between sets, but it motivates me to stay on a healthy track throughout the rest of my day. Also, when you make exercise a priority in the morning, it eliminates the possibility that your workout will be cancelled when something unexpected comes up.
Another benefit of early-morning exercise is that your stomach is typically empty, which means your body will use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates from food. In other words, it’s better for fat burning. I like to have a preworkout drink, such as Allmax Nutriton MusclePrime in White Raspberry flavor, to flood my system with branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and give me an energy boost without the jitters. Be sure to warm up on the bike or treadmill for five or 10 minutes before your workout.
By the time noon rolls around, you’ve been awake for several hours. Your body is already warmed up, which lessens your chances of injury during a workout. You may also feel more energized, having already fueled up with a meal and snack.
One of the best things about lunchtime exercise, however, is that you get a break from the grind to mentally recharge. You may even be able to recruit a workout partner from the office (who might not be available for a 6 a.m. run), giving you extra support and motivation.
For an optimal midday workout, have a snack one hour prior to exercise, then eat a healthy lunch afterward. Worried you won’t have time to clean up? Toss some Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo, Crystal Mineral Deodorant Body Spray and Active Toner in your gym bag to freshen up quickly before heading back to work.
Had a rough day? An evening workout is great for stress relief. Take out your frustrations on the weight machines, a punching bag or in a kickboxing class. Gyms typically offer their greatest selection of classes at night, so find one that lets you sweat out the stress so you can return home to relax and rest.
If your energy isn’t at its peak when dusk starts to set in, rev yourself up with a caffeine-free, nutrient-infused preworkout supplement or a natural energy drink. It’s also a good idea to pack a ready-to-drink shake (I like ISS Research Oh Yeah! Cookies & Cream or About Time Fill, Shake and Go in Strawberry) to replenish nutrients on your way home.
So, when do you like to work out? Let me know in the comments below!
IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.