Morning or Evening: What’s the Ideal Workout Time

August 2, 2017

Every body is different, which is exactly why the ideal workout time isn’t one size fits all. 

There are lots of opinions on when to workout. Will you burn more calories doing cardio first thing in the am? Will you be able to lift more weights in the evening? If your schedule and routine have been shifting, perhaps you’re struggling with finding the right time to workout. I just went through this myself and learned a thing or two about what works best for me. Hopefully, my experience will help you nail down the best time to schedule your workout. 

Finding My Ideal Workout Time

Recently I had been struggling with my workout routine. It actually was more of a struggle with my teaching routine. Working full time and teaching on the side is a balancing act. Often when you are teaching, especially if you’re new to a gym, you don’t get your pick of the schedule. In order to increase your presence at the gym and teach at the times you want, you have to start by teaching whenever they need you. It might me 5:30am, it might be 7pm. Hopefully students and management like you, and slowly you can gain more control over your schedule.

When first trying to fit classes at Equinox around my full-time work schedule, I ended up with a bunch of evening classes. I didn’t think it was a big deal. It meant slower mornings and more cuddle time with my dog. My work schedule was pretty consistent so I didn’t stress about getting to my classes on time.

Within a couple of weeks of teaching nights, by the time I got to the gym, I was totally depleted of energy, and this was my time for both my workout and to teach. Sufficient energy and the desire to work hard is key, whether you’re working out for yourself or leading a class. I felt my lack of energy and motivation spread into the second half of my workday, with the cloud over my head that I still had my workout and class ahead of me (it makes for a long day after being at work all day). It also meant getting home around 8pm, pretty much taking over my entire evening. After eating dinner, it was time for bed and the day was done.

I struggled through a schedule mixed with morning and evening classes for a couple of months, hoping that my body and mind would adjust to the schedule. It wasn’t getting much better and I felt more tired as I trudged through it. So finally, I was able to make some changes.

Slowly but surely, I built up more morning classes and I’m happy to report that now I exclusively teaching mornings!. And yes, getting up at 5am sucks, there’s no way around that. But once I’m up, within 10 minutes I’m totally (or maybe mostly) awake and giving my workouts much more than I could say for the evening version. Coffee helps.

I’ll still occasionally workout in the evenings. I teach three mornings each week (5 classes total), so the other two days give me a bit more freedom. If I feel the need to sleep in a little later, I’ll move my workout to after work, or if I make plans to meet a friend for a workout date, it’s usually in the evenings. Big picture, knowing I have control of when I workout and teach has made my routine much more sustainable.

While waking up between 5 and 6am is a struggle, I’d still much prefer to workout before work. I was pretty surprised at the toll teaching in the evenings was taking on me. When I workout and teach in the mornings, the first few minutes of waking up are super tough, but then my energy spikes. The endorphins from my workout carry me through the morning and put me in a brighter and more positive mood, knowing I already did some good for my body. When I start my day with a good workout, I’m more likely to stay on track with healthier eating and hydration throughout the day.


How to Find Your Ideal Workout Time

ideal workout time

So here’s what I realized about whether working out in the morning or evening is better. It’s all about YOU. When YOU workout should be about finding the time that is best for you. If you supposedly burn more calories in the morning, but you’re too sleepy or rushed to get your workout done or perhaps you think you’re supposed to hit the gym hard after work but you’re so stressed from the day and the gym puts you in a worse and a discouraged mood, what’s the point of that?

Every BODY is different, and everyone’s routine is different. One size doesn’t fit all. To figure out what works best for you, play around with times and workouts and see what works best for you. When figuring out which time is best to workout, consider your mood beyond just the workout. How does the time of day you workout affect the way you feel the other 23 hours of the day? How does it affect your mindset and other healthy habits?

If you haven’t found your workout rhythm yet, not to worry. Experiment with early mornings and evenings. Don’t expect to feel right at home after a workout or two, it definitely takes a while to get used to that early morning alarm. Try the routine for 2-3 weeks and see how your body and energy levels feel. And just because you want to be a morning workout person, it does not mean 5x a week! Think 3 times. It will make you really savor those two mornings that you get to sleep till 7 (such a luxury, right?).

To recap, here’s how to find your ideal workout time:

  1. Experiment with mornings and evenings. Early mornings feel tough? Yep, they are. Give your body time to adjust to the new schedule before you throw the towel in.
  2. Pay attention to your moods throughout the day based on when you workout.
  3. Focus in on how the time of day you workout affects your other healthy habits (sleep, hydration, eating).
  4. Consistency is key. Find a routine you can actually stick with.

Have you found a workout schedule that works for you? Morning or evening, what’s your pick?


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