The best time of day to exercise


What’s the best time of day to exercise?

This is a common question I’m regularly asked in the gym, with different tribes very attached to their routines.

  • The early risers advocate the crack-of-dawn as being the best, setting yourself up for the rest of the day.
  • The lunchtime crowd speak to this being the most efficient use of their time.
  • The evening shift believe they are reaping the benefits of giving their bodies all day to absorb food into their systems, so they have most energy to train.
What does science say?

There has been some research conducted around athletes maximising their training performance. Some studies have indicated that the optimal time is between 16.00 and 18.00, if your aim was to maximise muscle gain and fat loss. However, many variables need to be taken into account (not least when you get out of bed), but in any event, the percentage differences between the training times, whether morning, noon or night, were minor, especially when taking all the other variables into account. Suffice to say this level of training management may be important for an Olympian, but not for the average gym goer.

So, what’s the best time?

Rather than there being an objective “best time” it’s better to ask, “what is the best time for me?” Why? Because ultimately the right answer is personal and subjective. Each person has a different work schedule, different family duties and so on. Some people feel fresh and ready to train in the morning, while others need sustenance and prefer training later in the day. The take-home message: whatever your schedule, plan your training for a time that suits you. The best time to train is when you can. If you only have time available in the morning, train then. If it’s the evening, then go with it.

One thing is critical

The timing of your training should never provide you with an excuse not to train. The aim should be to chose a time that will best enable training to become part of your regular routine – just like brushing your teeth. You don’t aim to brush your teeth at inopportune moments – neither should you plan your exercise for such times. So, don’t choose a time that you know won’t work. This may seem obvious, but I’ve come across this more than you might expect, whether it be subliminally or otherwise.

As long as training fits with your schedule and you keep to it, then that will prove to be the best time to train.


Making exercise just routine will give you the best results.

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Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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