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Ever wondered when is the best time to hit the gym and reap maximum benefits?

Morning workouts help with appetite control. Picture by Alora Griffiths /Unsplash

Morning workouts help with appetite control. Picture by Alora Griffiths /Unsplash

Published Apr 13, 2023


Research studies have shown that there is no significant difference between working out in the morning or evening in terms of the overall health benefits that exercise provides.

The best time of day to exercise is when it fits into an individual's schedule and when they are most likely to commit to it consistently.

For those who want to build muscle or tone up, an early morning workout could do more harm than good.Picture by Garrett Butler /Unsplash

However, there are some differences to consider when it comes to exercising at different times of the day.

Whether you work out late at night or early in the morning, it is important to know that both have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your training goals, these pros, and cons could significantly be impacting the efficiency of your workout.

A late-night workout or an early-morning workout is best depending on the results you want to achieve. Sports nutrition experts Bulk have weighed up the pros and cons.

Early morning workout – 5am-8am


Sports nutrition experts at Bulk believe that one of the biggest advantages to an early morning workout is feeling more alert- believe it or not. Not only will this improve how alert you are in the morning but can also prime you to fall asleep easier and earlier that evening, allowing you to get enough rest to wake up and repeat the same routine again the following day.

Whilst you may feel exhausted as you drag yourself to the gym, a morning workout improves your body clock and can have a positive impact on your weight loss.

“For those looking to shred some body fat, a big advantage of working out in the morning is it is generally better for weight loss. Elevated cortisol levels and growth hormone in the morning are both associated with your metabolism.”

Morning workouts also help with appetite control. Studies have now shown that aerobic exercise, like running, cycling, and swimming decreases appetite. This is because it alters our hormone levels that drive hunger.


Inability to build muscle

For those who want to build muscle or tone up, an early morning workout could do more harm than good. This is because your body needs a few hours to refuel stores that it has used up during the night. Further, the body needs time to warm up before lifting weights. If you don’t give your muscles enough time to loosen up, you could risk an injury.

“Your muscles primarily use glucose to fuel weightlifting and resistance exercises.”

Lack of sleep

If you didn’t get to bed early enough the night before, or perhaps had a restless sleep, getting up at the crack of dawn and working out could also be extremely straining to the body.

If you worked out the night before, sleep is what allows muscle tissue time to recover between workouts.

Late-night workout – 7.30pm and onwards


Higher energy levels

According to a study from The University of Birmingham, evening workouts at a higher intensity allow you to exercise for up to 20% longer. As a result, exercising longer, faster, and stronger will yield results much sooner.

Muscles will tone up faster

As a result of varying hormone levels, the evening is when muscle strength and function are at their peak.

Effective stress relief

After a long day, exercise can help you unwind and de-stress.

Although a lot of people think that exercising late at night might seriously impair your ability to sleep since your endorphins are still buzzing, this is in fact inaccurate information. Sleep quality is actually aided by endorphins, which also help reduce stress.

A study in Sleep Medicine found that only 2% of vigorous exercisers reported disrupted sleep after workouts, while 30% reported sleeping better after exercising.


Can impact consistency

Studies also suggest that fixing your workout session to morning time may make it easier for you to turn exercising into a daily habit than setting it at night-time.

Your post-workout fuel is consumed too late

If you exercise late at night, it may take longer for your hunger to kick in, resulting in you eating very late. This is not recommended because eating late at night interferes with your circadian clock, which affects your metabolism and makes it harder to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

A spokesperson for Bulk said, “There is no bad time to exercise, it just depends on the types of workouts you do and the results you want to achieve. Generally, for those who want to achieve weight loss, an early morning workout is more effective, and for those wanting to build muscle and tone, afternoon or evening is better.”

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.