For 80 percent of people who hold a regular job, only a sizeable portion actually make time to work out as there are other competing demands for their time ranging from more work, relationship, family, studies to interest. Throw into this equation the perseverance factor as well as it takes time to develop a training regime and more importantly, stick to it.
For those who actually bother to allocate time to work out, most exercise after work between 6.30pm to 9.30pm. Besides the convenience factor, this is also the time when the body temperature is at its highest, muscles are warm and flexible, strength at its peak and resting heart rate low. Based on these facts, one is naturally more motivated and less likely to be subjected to injury.
Proponents of the work out in the evenings to night camp (codenamed owls) further claim that training during this period offer a greater advantage over the morning risers as far as gains in strength, muscle mass and loss in body fat are concerned. Very often, they point to the notion that one boosts his metabolism at a time when it normally starts to decrease.
Another noteworthy point is that when one works out between 6.30pm to 9.30pm, one feels an unparalleled adrenalin rush after a hard day’s work. Just thinking about the tight deadlines or the demanding boss gives me the inertia to sweat it out. I’m at the gym pumping iron and strangely but truly, the chemicals in my body react so well to the stress I have been subjected to the whole day in the office that I find myself lifting heavier and heavier. Is this the outlet for my pent-up frustrations through the day? Perhaps.
On the far end of the other spectrum sits the other camp who strongly believes that working out in the mornings is the most optimal workout time. The larks, if I may call them are adamant that an exhausting day at work is the primary contributor to the brain being exhausted. And since the brain is already exhausted, it invariable means a lacklustre performance at the gym as it is destined to be ruined from tiredness. No way can the mentally taxed individual pump harder or lift heavier than a fully relaxed one.
In the mornings, we are more relaxed as a new day heralds a new beginning. And what better way to start the morning than a good workout complete with perspiration and all? We can focus better as our minds are clear from all the clutter which have yet to permeate our lives. We can max ourselves out as our brain is the freshest and this means it will stop activating the little voices in our heads telling us the weight is too heavy or the routine too punishing.
More importantly, after a good morning workout, one remains fresh throughout the day as the body has been given its necessary dose of exercise to keep it going. It is akin to feeding the body with proper nutrition in the form of breakfast for it to tackle the demands of the remaining day. And once you have done the morning routine and gotten it out of the way, chances are you will not give any excuse to skip it altogether.
I have worked out in the mornings before and trust me, I fully agree with the larks. My energy level remains high throughout the day.
Interestingly, a third camp of fitness enthusiasts believe that the best time to work out is actually during lunch time. Having once worked in the corporate world before, there was a period of time when I used my lunchtimes to head down to the gym near my office for a 45 minute workout.
As I only have 45 minutes to spare, I wasted no time in chit chatting (as is common for the owls) or self-pitying (as is common for the larks). Owls tend to congregate and hog machines when they see other familiar owls. Larks tend to engage in self-pity and lament they have to sacrifice their precious sleep just to hit the gym early, shower then get ready for work.
Lunchtime workouts provide a good balance between work and play. Let’s put it this way – I’ve started work at 9am and now I’m having 45 minutes of play before I head back to the office at 2pm for another four hours of work. A much touted benefit of the lunchtime workout is that it allows me to focus better when I head back to work later as my mind is now clear once again. It also saves me money from engaging in mindless window shopping extravagances especially if your office is located near a shopping mall.
Having worked out in the mornings, during lunchtime and in the evenings/night period, I say there is no best time to work out. People come up with reasons to make themselves feel better. There has not been enough research to prove that just because one works out during a certain period, he will experience faster growth or see better results. It is still up to the individual.
The best time to train is always when it’s most convenient for you. That way, you train more consistently, which is ultimately the best method for achieving steady results. Whether you are tired or not, just don’t skip your training. Exercising when your brain is cluttered is still better than not exercising at all.
Just remember that any training programme will stimulate improvements for only six to twelve weeks. Thereafter, changing the exercises, the number of repetitions for the exercises and varying the weights used is the key to constant progress. If in doubt, ask me!