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How to Plan The Best Time To Train for Muscle Growth


Between work and home and everything in between, your life can get pretty crazy, right? That’s why, even when you have the best of intentions, it can be hard to find time to train.

Sure, you can squeeze in a few quick reps here and there, but in order to see the kind of results you want, a set schedule works best.

By allotting a specific time each day, or week, to train your muscles, you’ll not only see results more quickly, but you’ll also set the pace for long-term growth.

But with so many obligations pulling at you, how can you plan for the best time to train?

Let’s take a look at a few ideas that can turn training from just another duty into a fun and rewarding part of your schedule!

Rise and Shine and Get on the Grind

Though it may take a few rounds of the snooze button before you’re fully awake, the morning is a prime time to train.

One of the reasons why it’s best to get your workout started early? Your testosterone levels are at their peak right when you wake up, then start to fluctuate throughout the day.

You’re also more alert after sleeping all night (even if it takes you a little time to feel that way), with a clearer mental state, allowing you to focus in on building the muscles you want to develop.

Another advantage to completing your workout early? Your muscles have all day to recover and develop. You’ll also optimize your energy levels and jump-start your metabolism for the rest of the day, helping you burn more calories and meet your weight loss goals.

Then, when your day is through, research reveals that with your workout already completed in the morning, you’ll be set for a longer and more beneficial sleep that night.

You’ll also be more likely to stick with it. People who find time to train in the morning tend to be more consistent with their training schedule than those who opt to workout at night. So if you’re looking to get started on a set schedule, this may be the option for you.

Yet, one main drawback to this early-bird-gets-the-worm theory is that in the mornings, your body temperature is a bit lower, and you might be a little stiff from lying in bed.

This can make you more prone to injury. Just be sure to go slow and ease into the more intense repetitions. Try jogging in place for a few minutes or another light cardio exercise to warm those muscles up before you start!

While the morning is a great time that many people prefer build muscle, there’s also research that points to the late afternoon or evening as another excellent time to train. Let’s dig into some of the advantages this time has to offer:

Late Afternoon and Evening: Winding Down and Building Up

While there are many advantages to morning workouts, there are also some pretty convincing reasons to find the time to train in the evening.

For starters, your joints and muscles aren’t anywhere near as stiff in the afternoon or evening as they are in the morning. You’ve been moving, walking, bending, and twisting all day and they’re loose and ready to work! Your body temperature is also at its peak.

As a result of this loosening, your chances of exercise-induced injury are the lowest from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

During this same timeframe, from about 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., your muscle strength also peaks. In fact, one study of weightlifting men revealed that of 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m., their force and strength was the greatest in the evening.

In addition to muscle performance, your lungs also function 17.6 percent better around 5 p.m. than at the middle of the day, making aerobic activity easier to withstand.

And your testosterone levels? Even though they’re highest in the morning, they’re actually more responsive to exercise in the late afternoon, making it an ideal time to train.

If the stats weren’t enough to convince you to pursue a later training session, remember this: Working out in the afternoon means that your mornings can be less rushed.

You’ll be able to ease into your routine and then, when you get home, release any workday stress through your workout.

A main disadvantage to waiting until the end of the day to find the time to train? Two words: The Slump.

Around 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the very time when much of your body is technically at its peak potential, you’re more than likely feeling a bit drained.

The reason? Your body’s sleep cycle is gearing up to slow you down, much like it does when you’re getting ready for bed. During this timeframe, your body’s core temperature dips, drowsiness sets in, and your brain begins to release the sleepy-time hormone melatonin.

That’s why hitting the weights might not sound like the best idea during this time, even if your body is physically able to withstand it.

Finding a Time to Train That Works

So the clear-cut answer here is that there is no clear-cut answer. The ideal time to train for you might differ from someone else’s ideal time, and that’s perfectly OK.

Take a look at your schedule. What are you willing to give up, move around, or add to make sure that your strength training gets done?

If your mornings are too frazzled or too important to sacrifice, consider tacking on a strength session in the evening. Your body will thank you.

If your afternoons and evenings are full of after-school and after-work activities and you just don’t think you’ll be able to find time for a consistent training session, consider waking up just a bit earlier in the mornings and doing it then. Again, your body will thank you.

At the end of the day, there’s science to back up reasons to train at any hour of the day. Finding a time to train that works for you and sticking with it is the most important thing. One exception to this rule?

If you’re training for an event that’s held at a certain time, such as a morning marathon, try to train at the same time each day as the event will be. That way, that 5 a.m. wake-up call on the day of won’t come as such a jolt.

Interested in learning more about strength training? We’d love to help. Feel free to contact us, browse our blog archive, or leave a comment below. Your journey to a stronger tomorrow could start today!

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