Did you read the headlines about exercising before breakfast to boost fat loss?
Or are you a regular at the post-work spin class to burn off the day’s stresses?
As a Personal Trainer I am often asked when is the best time to train – for fat loss, cardio gains, or increased muscle size and strength. And my answer is always the same.
The best time to train is the time you will actually train.
There are completely legitimate reasons for training at certain times of the day to maximise your body’s physiological response to training stimuli. For example, multiple research studies have shown that strength, power output, flexibility and endurance are higher in the late afternoon and early evening, compared to early in the morning. We tend to be well fuelled later in the day, and our body temperature is higher, factors which are closely related to improved physical performance.
So in a perfect world – one without the 9-5 and myriad of other daily commitments – we would be free to focus solely on our nutrition, training and recovery at scientifically-proven optimum times.
Meanwhile back in the real world, our decisions are usually based on work and family commitments as well as our natural body clocks (are you a ‘morning lark’ or a ‘night owl’?).
If training at 6am means you turn up to the gym consistently three times a week, that is going to get you better results in the long term, compared to lifting heavier weights at 6pm once a week because your boss keeps calling you into meetings when you’d planned to get away from work to hit the gym.
On the other hand, if mornings aren’t your thing, committing to a 6pm spin class twice a week is better than intending-but-never-quite-managing to start each day with a run in the local park.
So don’t worry too much about the theoretical best time to train. Consistent effort over weeks and months will help you reach your goals.
Being consistently good is better than being occasionally perfect.