Workout times are a personal matter but I am sure there is some study out there that says that if you workout early in the morning you are more productive at work and in life because your endorphins get sparked early and it carries you throughout the day or that because you were burning energy early you will continue to burn energy throughout the day and this helps to lose weight. At the same time there are probably the same number of studies that show that if you workout in the evening that you are setting yourself up for a great night’s sleep which aids in recovery and eventually weight loss. All of these studies are fine and good but what matters is how YOU feel when you workout. Maybe it is early in the morning or maybe it is later in the evening and I am not here to tell you why you should do one or the other. What I do want to do is point out how I treat my training schedule and what I notice if I choose to do something different.
Pros Of The Early Morning Workout
- By working out early in the morning I feel like I am setting myself up for success because one of the items on my to do list is crossed off even before I shower. As a Type A person I like to have lists and like those lists even more when all the items on the list are crossed off.
- Knowing that I have to get up by 4am to workout I am getting ready for bed earlier than most high school kids and I am ok with that. I took inventory of the things that I miss by going to sleep early and I realized that I am not missing anything. The DVR is a great tool to help me with my morning workouts because what I missed the evening before I can catch up on while riding my bike on the trainer. Also, since ESPN shows the same SportsCenter broadcast for what seems like 12 hours straight I can catch-all the highlights without having to stay up until 12am for them.
- Refueling typically involves a higher than normal carbohydrate meal. By having this meal in the morning I have all day to burn off any excess carbs that my body is not using for the recovery process. If I workout at night I find that my recovery meals are much smaller and I feel as if I am not recovering properly.
Cons Of The Early Morning Workout
- Regardless of how used to it you get that 4am alarm is still a struggle. Sometimes I will hit snooze and then jump out of bed and rushing to the workout because it is now 4:55am and I have a small window to get the workout in.
- Some evenings I am falling asleep on the couch (especially if a swim workout is involved that day) and may miss some quality family time.
- There are some mornings where I feel I am rushing my training and not getting in an effective workout because I need to be home in time for my wife to leave for work and for me to make breakfast, shower, get dressed and make sure that my step-son is dressed and ready for me to take him to school before commuting to the office.
Pros Of The Evening Workout
- As much as I love the early morning workout there are days where the alarm is the enemy and I win the battle by just turning it off and getting the rest that my body clearly needs.
- There are more people to workout with in the evening then there are people to join you for a 5am 6 mile run in the pitch black dark.
- I have the ability to enjoy some time with those training buddies after the workout is over as opposed to saying thank you and splitting up quickly because we all have responsibilities to handle before we start work.
Cons Of The Evening Workout
- Very easy to skip because (insert excuse). You had a rough day at work, you are hungry, you are tired. The list goes on and on and on and can make it very easy to skip.
- Your recovery meal is not happening until very late at night and while your body doesn’t know what time it is in terms of getting the nutrition it needs you may feel bloated and not ready to go to sleep thanks to the meal but need to get enough rest before work the next morning.
- Your adrenaline is up and your ability to fall asleep can be compromised. As we all know recovery is not only contingent on the post workout meal but also on sleep. When I work out in the evening I find I have a hard time getting to sleep after the workout and that can set me up for failure the next morning.
These are just a few of the pros and cons I have experienced in my daily workout routine when it comes to an early morning workout session or an evening workout session. The one type of workout that I cannot seem to get into regardless of how much I want to do it when I read it on the training schedule is the swim. Swimming in the evening is the last thing that I want to do because I know how hungry swimming makes me not to mention how hungry I already am before I get home.
Life, and working out, is a balancing act. We have responsibilities regarding our lives outside of our workout but when you find what works for you stick with it. It doesn’t matter what study A or study B says because it only matters what works for you. If you routine is not currently working for you then try switching it up. It will be hard at first but stick with it for a given period of time and see if it gets any easier. As I said swimming in the evening doesn’t work for me but there are times where I will push my run back because I know I need the extra sleep.