What is the best time to train? First and foremost, when you can!
However, research on circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock)
indicate that the summation of several important (anabolic) hormones
peak at 3 and 11 hours upon awakening. What does that mean in plain
english? Well, according to science, if you wake up at 6:00 am, you are
at your strongest at 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. And, according to Olympic
Strength Coach Charles Poliquin*, your joints (specifically, the synovial
fluid that lubricates your joints) require about 3 hours to reach an
optimal level of warmth which will help improve performance while
decreasing the likelihood of injury. Also, some people require a meal
before training (remember to allow at least 1 hour for digestion) to
maintain adequate energy levels throughout their workout particularly in
the morning; others don’t. However, there is a difference between ideal
conditions and reality!
Reality dictates that we train when we can regardless of what time it is.
The important part is to get your workout in. Today’s lifestyle is quite
busy and hectic. Many people have a tendency to jeopardize their
workouts later in the day because other priorities get in the way. For
these individuals, I suggest working out first thing in the morning and
getting it out of the way. Actually, some authorities believe that training
first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will facilitate weight loss.
Greg Landry is an Exercise Physiologist who highly recommends
exercise in the morning for the following reasons (for more information
send a blank email to Morning@Landry.com
or visit http://www.Landry.com):
* 90% of people exercise consistently in the morning
* elevates metabolism and makes you feel energized all day long
* helps to regulate appetite
* makes it easier to wake up; hormones and metabolism elevate while
you sleep to prepare your body for exercise
* mental acuity is increased for 4-10 hours after exercise
While others believe that you should train at night because your strength
will be higher since you have eaten during the day and energy levels
should be elevated. Although, I would caution late night workouts as
they may adversely affect sleep.
According to the opinion of Dr. Ann de Wees Allen, a Board Certified
Doctor of Naturopathy, the above question should be rephrased: Are
you a morning or night person? It’s really that simple. She believes that
we respond better during certain periods of the day and those are the
times that we should train.
As stated above, this reflects our circadian
rhythm – something that we are born with and cannot change.
Subsequently, there will be times during the day that we are the
strongest. This does not happen by chance. You must recognize those
times and use them to your advantage. So, the answer, in her opinion,
will have a big impact on your performance. Does it mean that you can’t
workout at other times? No! But, it is a good idea to train at the same
time each workout if possible – your body will naturally adjust to that time
and prepare itself. If you are forced to change your workout time ,though,
to accommodate your schedule, then allow 3 weeks for your body to get
used to the new time (especially if you are unaccustomed to training first
thing in the morning.) It usually takes about 3 weeks to form a habit.
Whatever you decide … just make sure to train!
*Poliquin, C. “Question Of Strength.” Golden, CO: Muscle Media 2000,
Inc. December, 1996. (pg. 58)