Workout time – morning, afternoon or evening? All the truth!


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the best time to train scientifically

Very rarely does anyone think about the optimal time for sports. People train when they feel comfortable, when they want, when they can. As a result, the decision on when to train becomes based on anything but better results. The fact that training is postponed leads to the results of the second plan.

There is scientific research on the optimal time to exercise. When you schedule your workouts according to your own circadian rhythms, you will become stronger, faster, and more powerful. After training, you will recover better and gain maximum muscle. Your flexibility will increase, the risk of injury will decrease.

Is it too good to be true? Read this guide: we will tailor your workout time to suit your circadian rhythms!

Circadian rhythms

Your circadian rhythm is your daily cycle of biological activity. The most obvious biological activity is the sleep-wake cycle. Your body has an internal clock that regulates when to activate a particular system. The part of the brain called the “suprachiasmatic nucleus” has built-in molecular oscillators that guide your rhythms. This suprachiasmatic nucleus is your inner clock. It interacts with every system in your body, including hormone production and central nervous system activity. Look at the picture: how biochemical and physiological activity takes place over 24 hours.

Note that the clock is associated with your lifestyle, especially when you sleep, work and see daylight. This is the most generalized model for a person who works from 9 to 5 and sleeps from 12 to 8.

Time of maximum anabolism

For athletes, the most important factors affecting circadian rhythms are systematic variability in body temperature, metabolic rate, and hormonal environment. Let’s first look at testosterone, the “alpha” hormone, and cortisol, the stress hormone.

As you can see in the graph, testosterone production is higher at night and lower during the day:

The production of cortisol is lower at night, rises rapidly with the rise, and then increases all the time throughout the day.

The testosterone to cortisol ratio is generally considered a marker of tissue anabolism and contributes to the measurement of overtraining levels. As you can see from the graphs above, this ratio is highest during the day and evening. During this period, exercise produces a smaller increase in cortisol and a large increase in testosterone. It may well be that the hormonal environment in the afternoon is optimal for maximum muscle anabolism. However, research continues to investigate exactly how transient fluctuations in hormone concentrations affect muscle growth.

Whether it’s hormone-related or not, muscle hypertrophy is much higher in the afternoon than in the morning, according to gene studies and cell activity studies.

Body temperature and maximum performance

A much more controversial issue is the issue of body temperature. Body temperature is the temperature at which your organs work. Enzyme reactions are very sensitive to the smallest temperature variations. For biological systems that are involved in high intensity training, the optimal body temperature will be quite high. The temperature is lower at night, gradually rises after the morning rise and reaches a maximum in the evening.

Still not enough for a world record

Optimal body temperature for strength training is reached in the afternoon and early evening. During this time, you have optimal nerve conduction speed, joint mobility, and glucose metabolism. Muscles are better supplied with oxygen. This reduces tension in the tissues so that your muscles are maximized and your connective tissue remains healthy.

It’s no surprise that sports records are usually broken in the early evening. More importantly, many random and controlled scientific experiments were conducted from afternoon to early evening. During this time, flexibility and strength reach their peak during the day. Endurance, on the other hand, interacts less with circadian rhythms.

Best workout time

According to the circadian rhythms of hormones and body temperature, the best time to exercise is between 2:30 pm and 8:30 pm. If your workout lasts longer than an hour, start exercising early. This advice is based on the bias that you sleep when it is dark outside and wake up when dawn breaks.

If your sleep-wake cycle is irregular (you are a student), then it is best to wait 6 hours after getting up and then go to exercise. The optimal time for training is closer to 20.30 than to 14.30.

Fine tuning

Circadian rhythms vary from person to person. Acrophase, or peak time, also varies. For example, in swimming, the peak is two hours later than in activities on land.

You can use your heart rate readings for guidance. Resting heart rate and body temperature are highly correlated. Thus, the time of day when you have your highest resting heart rate is the best time to exercise. Measuring circadian rhythm by temperature in the mouth or armpit is not very accurate. The gold scientific standard is measuring the temperature in the anus, but only tough nuts can do that. As the researchers say, body temperature should be measured rectally, and the thermometer should be …


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