This topic might be slightly controversial in nature, but my post shouldn’t be – not that I wouldn’t write a post if it was controversial. The reason things are controversial is because the experts are not in total agreement, which is the case with the notion of the best time of the day to exercise.
For me, I feel this is a complicated topic and I plan on throwing a bunch of things at you so you can decide for yourself what is best for you as an individual.
If you look solely at weight loss as a goal, working out in the morning may be your best option. The short explanation is that exercise gets your metabolism going and so it would be wise to jump start your fat burning first thing in the morning and enjoy burning throughout the day. In comparison, you don’t want to waste all that calorie and fat burning capacity by working out just before bedtime.
Now here is where it gets complicated. In the morning, your muscles are tight and cold, so hopping into an intense Functional Fitness workout in the morning instead of later in the day could increase the likelihood of causing injury. Plus, most of us have very little energy in the morning, so our workouts are just going to be plain mediocre at best.
To combat some of the early morning workouts, you can try these few tips. First, make sure you eat something light (and healthy) an hour or so before your workout, such as yogurt, oats, granola, cottage cheese, etc. Secondly, make sure you pay extra attention to your warm-ups and get your muscles loosened and warmed up before hitting anything heavy.
Personally, my best workouts are in the middle of the day. I eat a turkey sandwich and carrots about an hour to an hour and a half before I exercise and then eat another turkey sandwich and an apple immediately after the workout. Essentially I am eating 1/2 my lunch for energy before I exercise, while leaving enough time for my stomach to settle and for everything to be digested first. Then I eat the other half directly after the workout to make sure I have the protein and nutrients my muscles need to recover. Then, drink water, drink water, drink water. Did I mention you need to drink plenty of water?
To complicate things further, here is one last idea to chew on. For many of us, or for some of us on certain days, we do not have the luxury to pick when we can work out. Evenings might be full of family activities and we don’t have time in the day to exercise due to work schedules. Guess what, you have to get up early on those days and get the workout in before work. What, no time then? Ok, you are going to suck it up and get it in after the little ones are in bed. Yep, you might not get to exercise during the most optimal time of the day, but maybe for you, a free moment just before bed is THE ONLY optimal time.
When it comes down to it, concentrate more on getting in your 4 workouts a week, not when you exercise. If that is no problem and your schedule is flexible, then consider the midday or late morning workout. You will get the most fat/calorie burning out of it, but won’t have the dangers and negatives of the bright-and-early-morning workouts. And in any case, try to plan your nutrition/diet around when you exercise to help you with energy and recovery.
See, since I never did tell you when exactly YOU have to exercise, I avoided controversy. I hope, though, that I got you thinking and planning ahead to help you to get the best benefits out of your program.