Here’s What Science Has to Say About Morning vs. Evening Workouts

morning-road-runThere’s so much conflicting research out there on when the optimal time to workout is. Morning people claim it boosts your metabolism, but nighttime people claim that actually doesn’t help you lose weight. Nighttime people claim it helps you sleep better, but morning people say that’s actually not true. So what’s the right answer?

Here’s the right answer: you will get in better shape and your performance will improve if you pick a time and stick to it. As far as we know now, morning and night bear little difference in weight loss results between groups. But those morning people or those nighttime people that stick with a consistent time? That’s when results start to show.

But how to decide which is right for you? First: don’t freak out if you miss one morning or evening workout in your journey to finding the perfect schedule. But take note: that might not be the best time for you.

Here, to help you decide, are the pros and cons of working out at night versus in the morning

Morning Workouts: Pros

  • Testosterone and other muscle-building hormones are higher earlier during the day. Wake up with your hormones and you’ll have a faster path to stronger muscles.
  • Exercise is a natural caffeinator, which means you can cut back on the coffee.
  • Morning workouts may prevent cravings.
  • Fat is your primary energy source in the morning—you’ve been fasting all night!—so when you work out, you’re targeting fat more directly.
  • It will lower your blood pressure, and according to researchers, improve your sleep.
  • Morning exercisers tend to be more consistent.

Morning Workouts: Cons

  • When you wake up, your body is stiff, your muscles haven’t been used, and you need to invest in some serious stretching time. If you don’t, you have a higher chance of injury.
  • It’s possible you’re going to be energy deficient. In the morning, you have lower energy stores that might hold you back from an intense workout.
  • The whole “boosts your metabolism” thing might not be totally true. New studies show that even with a morning workout, your metabolism will slow again in the evening naturally.

And for the night owls, the master schedulers, and people who just don’t like to wake up early? Here are your pros and cons.

Evening Workouts: Pros

  • You can work out harder, for longer.
  • They help you unwind from a tough day.
  • You can build more muscle.
  • You’ll sleep more deeply. For a while, there was a body of studies that said a hard workout at night could mess up your circadian rhythm. It’s possible that might be true for a hard cardio workout, but strength building at night has been shown to encourage deeper sleep.
  • Group classes ramp up from 5-8. More options to choose from!
  • The body’s metabolism may adapt better to later workouts.
  • You’re naturally more flexible later in the day.

Evening Workouts: Cons

  • They’re easy to skip or miss. You’ve got a to-do list in the afternoons and who can blame you if you skip the workout to grab your kid from practice?
  • Aerobic exercise at night can mess up your sleep. Save the cardio for the morning.
  • It’s easy to lose motivation throughout the day, and the most powerful influencer on your workout schedule is you! If you don’t stay motivated all day, accept that and go for mornings.

We say that in order to succeed, you need to set yourself up for success. If success doesn’t naturally happen at 5:30 a.m. for you, accept that and sleep in. Pick the time of day when you know you can commit to consistency. The best part of working out is that you’re in total control, so listen to your body, practice a little discipline, and give yourself some fitness agency.

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