It Doesn't Matter When You Workout

By Neil Anderson

Training is equally effective no matter what time of day you do it.  This is according to a study by Milan Sedliak and his colleagues out of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.

According to the study, subjects trained for 10 weeks to get accustomed to the workout and then trained for an additional 10 weeks, either in the morning or the late afternoon.  Researchers measured muscle mass gains accurately using MRI imaging.  The positive results were indistinguishable from one group to the other.  This has led researchers to conclude that it doesn’t matter what time of day you workout as long as you are working out.   This research backs up what I have been saying all along.

In the past there have been three schools of thought about what time of the day is the best time of the day to workout…

The first school of thought says you should always workout in the morning when your body’s temperature is at its coldest point and hormones responsible for activity and growth are at their lowest.  The thought is that by working out during these times you will stimulate increased body temp and circulate valuable hormones earlier in the day thereby benefiting from their effects longer.

The second school of thought says you should workout in the middle of the day when your body temp and hormones are at their peak.  This is thought to help you maximize your physical and mental acuity during your workout.  Increased physical and mental acuity is thought to increase the benefit of the workout because you are likely to perform at a higher level.

The third school of thought is that you should workout later in the evening.  By working out later in the evening it is thought that you would increase body temp and hormone flow over normal levels and carry this positive effect of exercise over while you are sleeping.  Proponents of this school of thought are heard to say, “You actually get more fit while asleep.”

Although there are those who absolutely swear by each one of these schools of thought, it has always been my opinion that the best time of day to workout is the time of day that you will actually do it!  And now I have more than just a bunch of cowboy common sense to back me up on this.       

(Journal Strength and Conditioning Research, 23: 2451-2457,2009)