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When is the most effective time of day to work out?

There are plenty of differing opinions on what time of the day is the most effective time to work out and visit the gym. Early morning advocates say fasted exercise (working out on an empty stomach) leads to increased fat-burning, while fans of afternoon exercise say a higher body temperature helps you to have a more effective workout.

The truth is that there are pros and cons to exercising in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Your body’s circadian rhythm determines whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, and when you feel energised and sleepy – this largely dictates when you feel best in the gym. Personal physiology, combined with when you actually have the time to fit in a workout, will dictate when is most effective for you.

That being said, here are a few pros and cons to the timing of your workout:

Morning exercise


  • Many people choose to work out in the morning, so they can get it out of the way. After a long day at work, willpower can significantly decrease and while you might have had every intention of going to a class after work, you end up cancelling as you feel too tired. Ensuring you get it done first thing will mean you cannot procrastinate and put it off.
  • Everyone knows that exercise is often the first thing to go out the window when we get busy. Unexpected events, an increased workload and other time pressures can mean that we simply just don’t make it to the gym. A morning workout can make your exercise routine more consistent as it isn’t pushed to one side over the day.
  • Some people believe in fasted cardio for weight loss. Some research shows that people can burn up to 20% more body fat exercising on an empty stomach when our bodies are reliant on fat as its primary fuel source. This is obviously much easier to do first thing in the morning.
  • Studies have shown that after exercising in the morning, people are more likely to eat less throughout the day. This is beneficial for those who are trying to lose weight.


  • Your body temperature is lower in the morning and muscles are stiffer and tighter. This means your chances of getting an injury are higher. Take extra care to warm up and stretch properly.

Afternoon exercise


  • By the afternoon, your body’s core temperature has warmed up which can have a large impact on your quality of exercise. A higher body temperature leaves muscles more flexible, increasing strength and endurance.
  • Your reaction time is quickest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest during the afternoon – all of which can contribute to a better workout.
  • The body produces more testosterone during the late afternoon. Testosterone is important for muscle growth and strength, so strength training at this time may be more beneficial.


  • Obviously, the afternoon is an awkward time for people with a 9 – 5 to hit the gym. If you do manage to squeeze in a lunchtime workout, make sure you eat at least 90 minutes before you exercise – if you work out directly after eating, the blood your muscles need to perform is diverted to your digestive tract.

Evening exercise


  • Many of the pros of afternoon exercise apply to the evening.
  • For those who struggle to wake up early to exercise, working out after work in the evening is the perfect option.


  • Since exercise increases heart rate and body temperature, working out too late in the evening (generally after 8 p.m.) may disturb your sleep pattern.

To sum up, while some research suggests it’s best to exercise early in the morning on an empty stomach to help speed weight loss and boost energy levels; other studies state that sweating later in the day, once your body temperature is up, makes for a more effective workout. There are benefits to both. Ultimately, the best time to work out, is the time you are most likely to actually get to the gym or exercise at home. Finding out when is the best time to suit your schedule, routine, and energy levels, will allow you to create a consistent exercise routine and a healthier lifestyle.

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When is the Most Effective Time of Day to Work Out?
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When is the Most Effective Time of Day to Work Out?
There are plenty of differing opinions on what time of the day is the most effective time to workout. Here are the pros and cons of a morning, afternoon and evening exercise session.
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David Lloyd
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