Morning vs. evening workouts: Which is better?

Rise and grind or hustle in the moonlight? It’s the ultimate showdown between exercise timing: morning vs. evening workouts! Finding time for regular exercise is an ever-challenging endeavor in our fast-paced world.

Regular workouts bring many health benefits, from improved cardiovascular health and enhanced muscle strength to better mental well-being and stress relief. Yet, the timing of our workouts remains debatable – morning or evening?

What is the effect of morning vs evening exercise?

Our bodies are marvelous biological clocks, orchestrating intricate symphonies of physiological changes throughout the day.

Understanding how these rhythms impact our workout performance is crucial in determining the ideal exercise time for each individual. Let’s dive into the physiology of morning and evening workouts.

Circadian rhythms and exercise performance

The circadian rhythm, often called our internal body clock, regulates various physiological processes based on the time of day [1].

In the morning, our body temperature gradually rises, increasing alertness and improving muscle function. This spike in temperature may enhance workout performance, making morning exercise feel more invigorating.

Body temperature and muscle function

As the day progresses, our body temperature rises, peaking in the late afternoon and early evening.

Higher body temperatures generally lead to improved muscle flexibility and reduced risk of injuries during evening workouts.

Additionally, muscles tend to be more relaxed and responsive during this time, potentially allowing for a better range of motion.

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Hormonal influences on exercise

Hormones are pivotal in regulating our energy levels and metabolism during exercise.

In the morning, cortisol (the stress hormone) levels are naturally higher, providing an extra energy boost for early workouts.

On the other hand, in the evening, the hormone melatonin, which promotes relaxation and sleep, begins to rise, possibly affecting workout intensity.

Impact on metabolism

Metabolism follows a circadian rhythm too. In the morning, metabolic rates are slightly lower due to fasting during sleep, which may lead to higher fat utilization during workouts.

In contrast, evening workouts may benefit from the day’s meals, providing a readily available energy source for intense training.

Is the good morning exercise effective?

If you’ve ever witnessed the sun peeking over the horizon as you break a sweat, you know the enchanting allure of morning workouts.

Beyond the breathtaking scenery, there are numerous advantages to kickstarting your day with exercise:

Enhanced mood and mental clarity

Exercise triggers the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, known as the “feel-good” chemicals.

Morning workouts can lift your mood, reduce stress, and enhance mental clarity, promoting focus and productivity in your daily activities.

Enhanced mood and mental clarity
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Boosting metabolism and energy levels

Morning workouts ignite your metabolism, putting it into high gear for the day ahead [2].

The increased metabolic rate persists even after the workout, aiding in burning more calories throughout the day.

As endorphins surge, you’ll feel a natural energy boost, setting a positive tone for the rest of your day.

Improved sleep patterns

Believe it or not, morning exercise can improve your sleep. Regular physical activity helps regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and enjoy more restful slumber at night.

Consistency and establishing a routine

Exercising in the morning establishes a consistent routine, reducing the chances of skipping workouts due to unforeseen events later in the day. As you make it a habit, morning exercise becomes integral to your lifestyle.

Conserving evening time

Exercising in the morning frees up your evenings for other activities and social engagements.

It allows for a better work-life balance, allowing you to unwind and spend quality time with loved ones without the pressure of fitting in a workout.

Are evening workouts better?

As the day winds down, the allure of evening workouts beckons, offering distinct advantages that cater to the night owls and those seeking a perfect end to their day.

Here are the enticing benefits of opting for evening exercise:

Stress relief and better coping mechanisms

Evening workouts offer an excellent outlet for releasing the stress and tension accumulated throughout the day.

Physical activity can help you unwind, relax, and develop healthier coping mechanisms to deal with life’s challenges.

Increased muscle strength and flexibility

By evening, your body is warmed up and more flexible, making it an opportune time to engage in resistance training and activities that require greater muscle strength. This increased flexibility can also reduce the risk of injuries during workouts.

Injury prevention and reduced risk

As the day progresses, your body becomes more awake and alert, lowering the likelihood of accidents and injuries during exercise. 

The fully functional musculoskeletal system ensures better form and stability during workouts.

Enhanced performance and endurance

Research suggests that people perform better during evening workouts due to increased body temperature and enhanced cardiovascular function [3]. As a result, you may experience higher endurance and be able to push yourself further.

Ideal after a long workday

For those with demanding work schedules, evening workouts provide a refreshing release after a long and tiring day. Evening workouts can serve as a rejuvenating transition between work and relaxation.

What is good to exercise in the morning or in the evening?

Whether you’re aiming to shed a few pounds, sculpt your physique, or boost your endurance, tailoring your workouts to specific goals can accelerate your progress. 

Here’s how morning and evening workouts cater to various fitness objectives:

Weight loss and toning

  • Morning workouts: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and cardio sessions can be particularly effective, torching calories and aiding weight loss. 
  • Evening workouts: Engaging in resistance training, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, can help tone and sculpt your body. 

Muscle building and strength

  • Morning workouts: Focusing on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses can stimulate multiple muscle groups, promoting overall strength gains.
  • Evening workouts: You can maximize muscle growth and strength development by prioritizing proper form and progressive overload during evening strength training sessions.
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Endurance and cardiovascular health

  • Morning workouts: Early morning is a great time for cardiovascular exercises like running, swimming, or cycling. 
  • Evening workouts: The evening makes it a suitable time for endurance training that requires sustained effort, such as long-distance running or endurance cycling.

Overall fitness and flexibility

  • Morning workouts: Engaging in activities that enhance flexibility, like yoga or dynamic stretching, can help wake up your body and prepare you for the day ahead.
  • Evening workouts: Activities like yoga or Pilates can be particularly effective in enhancing flexibility and balance during evening workouts.
Is it OK to work out both morning and evening?

Is it OK to work out both morning and evening?

For those seeking to take their fitness journey to the next level, the concept of combining morning and evening workouts, also known as “two-a-day” workouts [4], presents an intriguing opportunity.

While this approach requires careful planning and consideration, when executed properly, it can yield remarkable results.

By splitting your workouts into two sessions, you can target different muscle groups and exercise intensities.

Two-a-day workouts increase your daily caloric expenditure, aiding in weight loss and body composition changes when combined with a balanced diet.

Pay close attention to your body’s signals and avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits. Adequate rest and recovery are crucial to prevent overtraining and injury.

Ensure two-a-day workouts fit into your daily schedule without compromising other essential commitments like work, family, and social life.

What is the best time of day to work out?

The decision of whether to embrace the dawn or dance under the stars for your workout sessions is a deeply personal one, influenced by a myriad of factors that shape your lifestyle, preferences, and goals [5].

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this choice and make the most informed decision for your fitness journey:

  1. Clarify your fitness objectives: weight loss, muscle gain, improved endurance, or overall well-being.
  2. Consider your schedule. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to exercise.
  3. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Consider whether you naturally feel more energized and focused in the morning or evening.
  4. Give morning workouts a fair chance by trying them for a week or two.
  5. Similarly, dedicate a week or two to evening workouts. 
  6. Tune in to how your body feels at different times of the day. Choose a time when you feel most energized and alert for optimal workout performance.
  7. Remain open to adjusting your workout time if circumstances change or if you find that your preferences shift over time.

Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the morning vs. evening workout conundrum. The most important factor is consistency.

Final takeaways

In the timeless debate of morning vs. evening workouts, the verdict is clear: both approaches offer unique advantages, and the best choice ultimately depends on your individual needs, goals, and lifestyle. 

The key to success lies in making an informed decision that aligns with your body’s natural rhythms, energy levels, and preferences.

Regardless of your chosen workout time, the call to action remains the same: prioritize your health and well-being by incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine. 

Embrace the joy of movement, challenge yourself to reach new heights, and celebrate your progress.

Remember that fitness is not just a destination; it’s a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and growth.

FAQs

What is the best time to work out for weight loss?

The best time to work out for weight loss depends on personal preference and lifestyle. Both morning and evening workouts can be effective for weight loss. 

How do I choose between morning and evening workouts?

Consider your energy levels, daily schedule, fitness goals, and personal preferences. Try both morning and evening workouts to see how your body responds.

Can exercising in the evening affect my performance?

Evening exercise can positively affect performance for many individuals. As body temperature and hormonal levels peak in the evening, the potential for improved strength and endurance may lead to enhanced workout performance during this time.

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[1] https://nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/circadian-rhythms.aspx 
[2] https://www.livestrong.com/article/287708-does-working-out-in-the-morning-speed-up-metabolism/ 
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481716/ 
[4] https://marathonhandbook.com/working-out-twice-a-day/ 
[5] https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/best-time-to-workout

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.