AM or PM: When is the Best Time to Train?

While morning weightlifting routines may be invigorating, some still prefer to train in the evening – it usually boils down to when a person finds it most convenient to work out and this can depend on lifestyle or motivation. Muscular performance and hormone levels vary throughout the day, so is there really a better time to train?

Here are some factors to consider:

AM or PM

Circadian Rhythm

A circadian rhythm is the 24-hour physiological process of a living being. Endogenously generated, the circadian rhythm can also be affected by external cues such as temperature and sunlight. It will dip and rise at different times throughout the day and this can affect athletic performance.

Responsible for responding and adapting to environmental factors such as food intake and exercise, it affects the nervous system activity and hormonal production regulation – thus having a big influence on the optimal training time, as it helps to strengthen the muscle to reach its peak performance during the afternoon. Therefore, training in the afternoon/early evening will make the best advantage of the circadian rhythm but more specifically between 2:30pm and 8:00pm.

Training for Competition

If you are competing, another important point to consider is when the competition is scheduled to take place – is it in the morning or in the evening? Once the time has been established, you should train at that time of the day as often as you can to get the body acclimated to that hour.

Exercise Hormones

Testosterone, Cortisol and the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) are the three hormones related to training and body composition – and they are also affected by the circadian rhythm. Testosterone and HGH are considered to be muscle building hormones, while Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes muscle protein breakdown. Testosterone levels normally increase after exercise and are more profound in the evening. However, the Cortisol peaks in the morning and decreases in the evening.

Train at the time you are most comfortable but also consider the above points to achieve optimum results – the natural body clock, work, health and environmental conditions and training and competing priorities.

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