T Nation

Preferred Time for Workouts


Hey guys,
I was wondering if there is a dramatic difference if you work out first thing in the morning or afternoon. I have been working out around 6 pm everyday after i get off of work for about a year now. I was thinking of changing this up so that I work out around 6 am everyday to better fit my schedule. I was wondering if working out in the morning would have a greater/lesser effect on me. I know that we have elevated testosterone levels in the morning, but I have also heard that if you workout early on, you burn a lot of calories/carbs throughout the day and that isn't all too ideal for me considering I'm trying to gain weight.

Another thing is that I always thought it was better to work out later on in the day and to eat a lot of protein immediately afterwards and to sleep soon after a workout also. I know that is probably wrong but I'm a freak when it comes to making sure my body is building/recovering itself to the max so someone please clear that up for me. Any input is appreciated.


The best time to train is the one at which your body performs the best. The only way to find out is to try both and see how you respond. Don't get caught up in all of the other stuff.


The only negative thing I've heard about early morning training is that it can damage your spinal cartilage or something like that. Basically, I've heard that you need to wait about 1/2 hour or so after waking before doing any heavy lifting. That's what I've heard, but since I'm too sleepy to get in the gym that early I never really cared about it.


Along with the answer Cressey gave you also have to do what is best for your schedule. Which time will you be able to w/o without missing planned w/o's etc. or which leads to less stress on the rest of your life. Sleep, relations and otherwise.


I heard you should wait 3 hours before doing heavy lifting. Say you were doing an ME Squat day..you should wait 3 hours. That's what I hear though. I think around 4pm is one of the best times to train around. If I don't train at 4, then it's usually around 7...both times I find I workout great sooo it's all good. What time do you go to work at?



I try to wait a few hours after waking up before lifting. Even if not, I make sure and get a good meal before going to the gym. It's a must. Lifting in the mid-afternoon is often said to be best. But if you can't, you can't. I wouldn't worry about it too much.


Just eat a few extra calories then! :slightly_smiling:

I work out around 7:00am for the following reasons:

  • Working out is a priority, if I leave it till the afternoon I find that I'm often too tired to workout, or a group of friends is going out for a drink, or work has built up and I have to stay in late... You get the picture. The point is, by working out first thing in the morning I make sure I get my workout done, whatever the rest of the day my bring me.

  • I go to a university gym; anytime in the afternoon, until closing time it is packed with students. Suprisingly enough, at 7:00am I only find a handful of people. We only have one power rack, and I'd rather not find some freshman curling in it when I have by 5x5 squats.

  • I feel I actually have more energy in the morning.

I only have a $1 bill, can you give me 98c change?


In addition to what EC said, I also agree with Charles Poliquin's findings that the ideal times to lift are approximately three and eight hours after awaking.

The approximate ideal times are 10:00 a.m. - Noon and 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. I've trained during both times, and have found it to be true. However, I am at my best in the afternoon rather than in the morning, especially for strength.


For me personally, it's hard to get started in the mornings, but once I get in the habit, I love it. I feel like my body is a furnace all day long. I sleep better at night. I can arrange my life better.

I eat something small and easily digestible before the gym, drink some Surge during and after. I also ride my bike for 3.5 miles to the gym, so I have a bit of a warmup (which may help with the cartilidge issues).


I perform significantly better in the evening, especially during sprints. When I do sprints in the evening, I always feel open and have lots of energy. Mornings usually suck for me.
The bad part is I work 12 hour night shifts now. at least I got weekends.

I guess you just have to see what feels best for you.


like THIS guy knows anything. look, the best time for YOU to lift is when I am not there. plain and simple.



Any ideas of pre-workout meals FIRST thing in the morning (say around 5-6am)??

I might be forced to start lifting in the mornings once university starts again in october..


food would be a good start


Well, today was supposed to be my first day to work out at 6 am..and well..let's just say i didn't get out of bed until I had to go to school at 8:30. I guess I'm just not a morning person and will continue to workout after i get off of work around 6 pm. Thanks though for all of your input guys.

Live and learn.


7 o clock in the morning works for me.Makes me able to sit still thrpugh school.


Very helpful.

anyone willing to post constructive ideas regarding early morning pre-workout meals??


The best breakfast- instant oatmeal packet(fast/easy) , 1/2-1 scoop Banana Cream Low Carb-Grow!, approx 6-8 0z (give/take) skim milk microwave about 1-2 minutes, add your choice sliced fruit-strawberries, blueberries, bananas or combinations and 6-8oz oj. Take 2 Spike prior to eating (and 3 Alpha Male if you dare). Rub tummy, lift weight, get babes.


Honestly, I wouldn't be able to eat that and then train intensely.

I'll be hitting the gym aprox. 30 min after having had something to eat. What you have posted would take me more time to digest.

I don't wanna puke on the squat rack :wink:


So wake up earlier.


The best for me is early evening around 6-7. But that's the peak time for most of the gym idiots, so I try to go later at night or very early in the morning, depending on my schedule.