There’s long been debate about what time of day is best to work out: mornings, midday or evenings.
The Benefits of a Morning Working Out
Avoid the crowd: The earlier you start your day, the fewer people will likely be out of bed. That means a sunrise run can be spent picking up your pace rather than navigating your way around walkers and cyclists. And if group fitness like CrossFit or studio classes is your thing, get ready for more coaching attention; fewer classgoers means more corrections on your form.
Less sabotage: Plan your sweat session for the midday or evening, and you risk missing it due to long-running meetings, last-minute work assignments, social opportunities and so forth. Make morning your time to shine, and the only thing standing between you and fitness is oversleeping.
Less stress: When your body feels better, so does your mind. Physical activity produces feel-good endorphins and has been proved to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Be active in the mornings, and you’ll be better able to keep stress low all day long.
More brain power: By starting the day being active, you’ll amp up your brain power and cognition, allowing you to work smarter and more efficiently all day. Work out at night, and that brain boost may be wasted once you head to bed.
How to Prepare the Night Before Your Workout
If doing the math on when you’d have to wake up to work out scares you, you might already be hitting the snooze button on the idea. But before you burrow back into bed, try easing into an earlier routine the night before.
Plan and pack: Set out your workout clothes, refrigerate your water bottle and pack your gym bag with the clothes and toiletries you’ll need to get ready post-workout. On the nutrition front, make sure to consider the fuel you’ll need, even tacking breakfast prep on to your normal dinner routine before cleaning up the kitchen.
Push up bedtime: Your body needs sleep to prepare for and recover from being active, so scoot up your bedtime. Instead of doing it all at once—which can lead to lying wide awake not being able to sleep—slowly push up bedtime in increments throughout the week. Plus, don’t forget to switch off your screen. Overuse of gadgets right before bedtime can confuse your brain into thinking it’s not yet time to sleep.
Stretch out: If your body is used to being active in the evening, try muscle mobility work instead. Nighttime stretching has been shown to improve quality of sleep afterwards, which is great given you might need all the help you can get with your new bedtime.
Things to Consider
When you work out doesn’t always alter how you work out, but there are a few things to keep in mind that differ about morning workouts.
Fueling vs. fasting: Midday or nighttime workouts are fuelled by energy from the protein, carbs and fats eaten that day, but in the morning your body will be running on empty.
Depending on your own goals, you can exercise without eating before, which can help with fat loss. To build muscle, try a protein shake before your workout. If endurance is your game, eat a banana and a tablespoon of natural nut butter 30 minutes before you begin working out.
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