Did you know that a one hour workout equates to just 4% of your day (1/24 x 100 = 4% for the fact checkers). Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, this fractional unit of time should make it seamless to get that sweat session in, right? Hmmm, maybe not. Family, work, commuting and Netflix get in the way and before you can even check when the next Tabata class starts, it’s time to hit the hay. This begs the question: when IS the best time to workout?
It depends – and it always does, because we are all different and nothing in this world is ever straight forward.
Start here…. What are your goals?
Your body is primed for certain activities at certain times of the day (technical term for this is Circadian Rhythms). Start by asking yourself what it is you want to achieve, then read on to find out when is best for you.
Note, I didn’t use the term ‘weight loss’ and that is because you want to strive for lower body fat, not necessarily weight (muscle weighs more than fat). For fat loss to occur, the body must burn its fat stores. The most common way to achieve this is through fasted cardio in the morning. Fasted cardio is exercise at low levels of intensity (think high speed walking, jogging or yoga) on an empty stomach. It is not a weight training or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session as both of these forms of exercise require carbohydrate intake pre-workout. Fasted cardio is said to promote fat loss because our bodies cling on to our carbohydrate stores overnight, paving the way for our fat stores to fuel the workout and burn away in the process. There is literature both for and against fasted cardio and I encourage you to delve deeper, (links are included at the end), but from personal experience I have found that fasted cardio works well. It is also worth noting that in general, morning workouts spark your metabolism more than any other time of the day.
That being said, you cannot reap the rewards of fasted cardio on a bad diet. Burning two hundred calories on a treadmill is only effective if you consume two hundred less calories that day. In other words you must be in a net caloric deficit which means you consume less than you burn off.
Gaining Lean Muscle Mass or Strength
Show me a woman who doesn’t envy Michelle Obama’s arms or a guy who doesn’t have a man crush on Superman dude Henry Cavill. If this is you, or you’re a girl or guy simply looking to get strong, then get ready to shift across to the weights section of your gym. Although the intensity and volume of your weight training will depend on your individual goals one thing is for sure – you will break down muscle. Don’t panic, this is a good thing. When you exhaust your muscles they repair themselves and in doing so, come back bigger and stronger. In the gym-rat world this process is known as ‘Protein Synthesis’ where your body applies the protein you eat to facilitate muscular repair. Your body’s protein synthesis peaks between 5 to 7pm. So if you want to maximize recovery for the most gain, beeline to the gym in the early evening. Here’s a little snippet of a typical strength training day for me, I love Deadlifts but I constantly work on my technique.
Health & Longevity:
Above all else, we should aim for good health and longevity. The bragging rights that come with Deadlifting 405lbs are quickly negated when you stop for breath walking up a flight of stairs. Every one of us should prioritize aerobic exercise (i.e. cardio) because nobody wants to die young, and for optimal health aerobic exercise is a must. The upside is that no time of the day is any more or less superior for aerobic workouts. What matters most is that you ‘get it in’. The sweet spot cited in most studies seems to be 150 minutes per week of ‘moderate aerobic exercise’ i.e. when you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat but still able to hold a conversation. When you break it down, that is a mere 21 minutes per day. Most recently, some studies have pointed towards a link between lower rates of mortality and ‘vigorous aerobic exercise’ i.e. you’re breathing hard and fast, your heart rate has increased significantly and you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. According to Dr Klaus Gebel of James Cook University in Australia, we should seek to complete 150 minutes of physical activity per week of which 20 to 30 minutes should be vigorous activity.
Last week I embarked on a mission to lose 3% body fat in five weeks (basically before my next vacation) and I have just come to the end of week one. The program is a combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic exercise combined with weight training. The diet, as always, is the hardest part but I have already lost 2.4lbs in the first five days!! I am timing my workouts accordingly and will fill you in next month on whether I made the cut!
So there you have it, the complete low down on timing ! Who’d have thought there was so much science! If you want to see more posts like this, just hit me up in the contact section or leave a comment 🙂
As always, Pushing for Health xx