The Best Time to Exercise

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Good morning!

I’m gearing up for my first CrossFit class in 4 whole days. I haven’t taken one since Thursday. I know, I’m as surprised as you are! I’m definitely excited to get back, especially since today’s WOD involves running! Yay!

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This morning, I was thinking about how I’ve switched back and forth between morning and evening workouts. Post-college until I started CrossFit last December, I was a die-hard morning exerciser. (Morning Workouts: Tips for Getting Your Butt Out of Bed!) For me, it was the only way I could stick with a regular exercise routine. If I planned an evening workout, something (an important errand, drinks with friends, etc.) would inevitably pop up, and I’d skip my workout, so exercising first thing in the morning really worked for me. At first, it was tough to wake up at the butt crack of dawn, but, eventually, I got into a groove and it became part of my routine. If I didn’t exercise in the morning, I actually felt like my whole day was “off,” so it was easy to stick with it.

When I first joined CrossFit, I started exercising in the evenings with Mal. He planned to go after work, so I hitched a ride with him and it was fun working out together. Now that he’s off for the summer and teaching morning classes, I’m back to my old schedule. I really love starting my day off on the right foot with a workout. Plus, it frees up the rest of my day, so I don’t have a workout hanging over my head (or getting in the way of evening plans).

Clearly, I’m all about exercising in the morning, but I recently stumbled upon an interesting piece about evening exercisers in Health (July/August 2012):

A recent study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that women who walked four times a week lost more fat mass when they hoofed it at 6PM compared with those who walked at 8AM. (Evening exercisers also ended up consuming more protein and eating fewer of their daily calories in the evening.) And multiple studies have found that early evening may be the best time to improve your performance and build muscle, whether you’re doing cardio or strength training. One possible reason: The body releases higher levels of muscle-building growth hormone in the early evening than in the morning, and exercise also boots levels of that hormone, so timing the two events to coincide may yield the best results.

Early evening workouts improve your performance and build muscle? Hmm… maybe I should mix up my exercise routine with some evening workouts? I do sometimes feel stronger in the evening””or maybe I’m just not totally awake for my morning workouts?

The Health piece definitely has some valid points for evening workouts, but I think as long as you’re consistent with your exercise routine, it still benefits your health and well-being””and isn’t that what’s most important?

Dinner

Last night’s dinner was “leftover tacos” since everything inside them came from random leftovers from our “tiny HUGE” party. I made the taco seasoning from scratch (using this recipe), but the ground beef was broken up meat from the giant hamburger and the veggies inside were either leftover from the mini pizzas or picked out of the pasta salad, which is why you might see some little pieces of feta mixed in. Random, but delicious.

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For dessert, I whipped up a batch of Banana Soft Serve and added some chocolate sprinkles to it. Mmm”¦ love.

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Breakfast

This morning, I woke up craving nut butter, so I whipped up My Favorite Breakfast Pancake. There was a new jar of Maranatha almond butter in the cabinet, so I was excited to break it open. I thought I liked the Maranatha brand, but, eww, it tasted like plastic. I definitely need to pick up a jar of Archer Farms from Target ASAP””that stuff tastes amazing and doesn’t cost a fortune.

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Question of the Day

Are you a morning, afternoon, or evening exerciser? Do you think what time you exercise matters? What time of day are your workouts most consistent?

P.S. My friend Patricia is giving away a slow cooker on her blog! Check it out!

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131 Comments

  1. Wow, I’ll have to try Archer Farms now. I’ve only tried Maranatha since it’s so cheap at Costco, but don’t like it. I love the Kirkland peanut butter, though.

  2. I WISH I could exercise in the morning before work, but I’m already up by 6, I don’t think a 4:30-5 am wake up call would work for me! I’ve always worked out after work, which I hate because it’s the busiest time. But if I don’t do it right away, I won’t do it at all.

  3. I’m totally a morning exerciser for the reasons you stated above…so many things tend to come up in the evening. Although I do notice that my workouts on really early mornings are somewhat sluggish at first. But hey, at least I’m moving my body 🙂

  4. Usually morning but sometimes if i am having a lazy morning i will do it in the afternoon. But never too late or I will never do it!

  5. I am a total without a doubt morning exerciser. I have tried on occasion throughout the years to do it in the evening. It’s just not the same! I always tell people to do what works for them. And morning works for me! I am not even as effective in the afternoon. It is so funny but it is the truth. I have the most energy and feel the best before 10 am. My usual time to run is somewhere between 6:30 and 8 am. What can I say, I am a morning person!

  6. Very interesting info. I always thought it was the other way around. I also really enjoy morning workouts for the same reasons that you pointed out. However, I’ve recently been lifting weights with my husband, so I ‘ve been going in the evenings when he gets off work. Either way, I typically stick to my workout as long as it’s planned and I know what I’m doing.

  7. If I could have my way, I would always exercise in the mornings. I like starting my day on an energizing/positive note like that, and also like knowing that I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day…plus it makes sense to me to workout then shower/get ready at the beginning of the day! However, I usually end up taking my school/work schedule into account when I exercise. This summer, for instance, I go to the gym on the way home from my internships in the evening, but on days off I work out in the morning.

  8. Ohhh I am so a morning ‘worker-outer’….just a morning person in general! Interesting about the release of growth hormone. I can see why you would eat less throughout the day if you plan to workout early evening. I hate working out with a full feeling.

    Did CF today at 11am! Good times! Our affiliate also holds Powerlift Meets! We had one again past Sunday! I’ve competed 4 times, but was a side judge the last two. A lot of fun! Some incredible lifters, not just CF-ers. We are planning an Olympic lift Meet in the Fall.:)

    Food looks great as usual. I’ve never tried the soft serve banana, but I know I would love it! Wonder if I can do it in a blender? I think I beat my food processor to death cause I used to make my own nutbutters in it.

  9. I’m definitely an evening workout kind of person. I’ll hit the road for a run around 6 or 7 and then sometimes make it to the gym around 11pm (when it’s nice and quiet). I’d love to become a morning exerciser though but, so far, all my attempts have just resulted in me hitting the snooze button even more than usual. Oh well, that study made me happy. 🙂

  10. I’m a morning exerciser all the way. I feel so much better when I start the day off with a great workout. Also, I’m a busy mom of 4 so if I don’t workout in the morning I will probably not have another free moment to get it in any other time of the day.

  11. I used to be a morning exerciser, but with my son’s nap schedule and activities, I workout (doing CrossFit) in the afternoon. It took a while for my body to get used to it, but I actually like it more. It gives me a chance to “fuel up” throughout the day, providing me with more energy for my workouts.

  12. I have tried both am and pm workouts for extended amounts of time. Hands down 4-6 pm wins out for me. My performance is better regarding endurance, intensity, and form and weight loss has been better overall. I read this article too and agree from experience regarding the higher protein intake and overall fewer calories consumed. Wish it was the other way around as sometimes life can get in the way of that 4-6 pm time. I think everyone is different. It’s important to do what feels right for your body.

  13. I prefer morning workouts because like you said, if I don’t get it over with in the morning it’s hanging over my head all day. That suprises me about the evening workouts because typically when I work out in the evening I’m exhausted from the day and the workout a) seems harder and b) doesn’t seem as great because I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself since I’m tired.

    Interesting…

  14. Yes, exercising in the morning is the most beneficial time of the day to workout! Exercising in the morning jump starts you metabolism for the entire day which means you will continue to burn calories all day! Not to mention if you get it over with in the morning it is done, waiting until the end of the day you are less likely to get it done. Something always comes up if you wait until the end of the day.

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