I can’t tell you guys enough how much I love to go to the gym. The comradery between fellow lifters, both men and women, is incredibly inspiring. Going to the gym is similar to going to work for me. When I arrive, I’m there to get the most out of my workouts and leave. That means my headphones are on, the sweat is dripping and I’m in my zone. However, I do enjoy the occasion conversation with some members who are just as dedicated as I am. I would pick their brain about lifting and nutrition advice since I am always trying to improve my health, both physically and mentally.
My workouts have always been my sanctuary. My home away from home has always been the gym. It didn’t matter what day of the week it was. It didn’t matter if I just came off of a cross-country flight either. I would let the taxi drop me at my house, change immediately and go to the gym. Typically, my schedule allows me to workout either early in the morning or late in the evening before closing. But I choose one of those time periods because I like to stick with a specific routine. I will get to my preference in a minute, but I want to give you a little history about morning workout sessions that were sustainable for me.
The last time I had a full routine for morning workouts was back in college. This would have been between 2009-2014. I liked to schedule most of my classes in the morning so that I can use the afternoon to do whatever I wanted. However, on my workout days, I would start my classes at 10am. On those days, I would wake up at 7:30am to get to the gym at 8:00am with enough time to get back to the dorm to shower before my first class.
Honestly, it was pretty difficult to keep up this routine. I loved the challenge and the fact that the gym was empty, but it became a bit tiresome after a while. This doesn’t mean I am not a morning person. In fact, I love the mornings. I love getting my day started before others. It makes me feel as though I have more time on my hands to accomplish more of my daily goals. However, mixing in a rigorous workout before I started class was difficult.
I had troubles focusing on my work in class because I was so exhausted from my workouts. I was a little sore, but very tired and it didn’t help that some professors had a monotone voice and boring assignments. This carried over into post-college life as well. Since my mornings became more stressful and unpredictable during my work career, I decided to forego my typical morning workout session.
There were some days when I would work out in the morning, but it was not the best decision. Because I have a two-hour commute in the morning, adding a gym session and a post-workout shower makes my morning more eventful than it needs to be. I can exercise at 9:30am on the weekends without much of an issue, but the weekdays are impossible.
Obviously, my preference would be evening workouts. It is the cherry on top of the cake for me because I am topping off an extremely difficult and productive day. Also, it helps me to destress before I lay down to sleep for the evening. It allows me to take that pent-up rage I had and release it on resistance training and intense cardio.
I would add in a deep tissue massage session about twice a month and it helps with muscle recovering and tension releasing. Also, during my evening workouts, I don’t have to watch the clock as I work through my sessions. I know I would either be there until closing. If not, I am able to have a great workout without worrying about what time I must leave to make it on time for work in the morning.
Overall, this approach is just better for my physical and mental health. However, I was curious to see if there was any benefit to working out in the morning versus the evening. I’ve always heard about the benefits of working out in the morning including becoming energized or feeling prepared to face the day. But, I have also heard about the benefits of working out in the evening including better focus and sleep. So, let’s weigh our options and determine what may be best for your long-term health and your purpose. Let’s break down the pros and cons for working out in the morning.
- Unsustainable (depending on lifestyle)
As you can see, there are many pros and cons to working out in the morning. While you may feel as though you are in a better mood with more alertness and more energy overall, you may have difficulties adjusting to the fact that there is an inability to build muscle and an increased risk of getting injured since it is so early. This is especially true for those who are just starting to get into that routine.
You must understand that you will feel like shit the first day that you workout in the morning. Of course, with time, that feeling may go away. However, it is more difficult to sustain a routine that is so vastly different than anything you’ve done before. You may be able to challenge yourself and keep up with it for a few weeks. However, this is not a challenge. This is a lifestyle change as you build a foundation to set you new life on.
Now that we’ve viewed the pros and cons of exercising in the morning, let’s do the same for the evening:
- Easier to be consistent
- Can affect sleep (depending on time between workout and sleep)
- Too exhausted from work to workout
- Affect your internal clock
- Unpredictable gym hours
As you can see, there is a sizeable number of pros and cons for working out in the evening. On the plus side, you can reduce the stress built up from a long day at work. You won’t have any problems building muscle and you would be able to tone faster depending on the workout type and the food you eat after your workouts.
On the negative side, working out very late could affect your sleep. Just like any lifestyle change, there may be a drastic difference in the amount of time you spend with your friend’s during those bar-hopping Friday nights. Also, you may have had such a terrible day at work that an exercise session would be too difficult.
So, if you’re a gym goer, I am sure you have a lot to think about moving forward. I would say that whether you workout in the morning or evening is completely up to you. There is no extraordinary list of benefits for doing either one. There may be days when you have to workout in the morning because of how busy you will be in the evening. There are some days when an evening workout is the only way to go.
My best advice to you would be to stick with a sustainable method. If you have a morning routine with no time to fit in a solid session before or during work, don’t think about making a drastic change. If you start working late and you finish late, it will be difficult to get a workout in during the late afternoon or evening time.
Therefore, you should plan to include a workout in the morning before starting your day. Regardless of what you do, make sure you can sustain the activity. That is the only way you will build the body, mind and spirit that you desire.