The Best Time For You To Train
Is there a point in the day that is the optimum time for you to train to maximize your results? If we are asking that question from a metabolic/physiological standpoint, the answer is no. However, from a personal perspective, there are definitely a few things you should consider to determine the best time for YOU to train.
PHYSIOLOGICAL/METABOLIC TRAINING TIMING PREFERENCES
You’ve probably read some of the same articles that I have discussing why you should train in the morning and others extolling the virtues of training later in the day or evening. The reality is that I’ve never seen any credible evidence that you will actually achieve greater results from your training based on the time of the day. The only timing issue that has any credibility relates to cardiovascular training and the body’s ability to burn the most fat.
The common wisdom is that doing cardio in the morning on an empty stomach will allow you to burn the most fat. There is a degree of truth to this. However when you understand why, you’ll see that it’s not the time of the day that really matters, but your nutritional intake before you do the cardio that rules the day. You will maximize your fat burning if you do cardio without carbohydrates in your system. That’s because carbohydrates create the storage of glycogen in your liver and your body must burn that glycogen BEFORE it will start to burn your fat stores for energy.
Obviously, when you first awaken, you are carb depleted as you haven’t eaten since the night before—probably at least 8 hours or more. However, what if you can’t do cardio first thing in the morning? Does that mean that you can’t get the same results? Of course not. Simply make sure that you don’t eat any carbs for a few hours before you do cardio (protein and healthy fats are fine), or do your cardio after you finish your weight training as you will burn through the carbs (and glycogen stored in the liver) and be in the desired carb-depleted state when you begin doing your cardio.
Now that we’ve established that there isn’t a physiologically advantageous time of the day to train, the question becomes when you should train to get the most out of it. As you will see, this is largely a matter of personal preference, lifestyle, biorhythms and the other demands of your life.
Ask yourself a few questions:
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Let’s face it, most of us seem to function a whole lot better at some point in the day. I’ve been a night person since I was a child. I’ve always hated when the alarm clock goes off and I don’t spring out of bed and seize the day in the next 30 seconds. But catch me at midnight and I’m usually wide awake and do my best work at this time. Contrast friends of mine who wake up at the crack of dawn and don’t even have to set an alarm clock. They just pop out of bed at 5 or 6 AM and they’re off. Talk to them at 10 PM, though, and you won’t have much of a conversation. Different strokes for different folks. Given these differences, do you think it would make much sense for me weight train at 6 AM? NO!
What type of training are you doing? Is it mostly cardiovascular focused or resistance training focused?
I know some cardio enthusiasts may disagree with me, but there is no doubt in my mind that you need to be more alert when doing resistance weight training vs. cardio. I’m not talking about sports performance type cardio but the fat-burning variety that I’m sure virtually every Natural Muscle reader does with varying frequency. When you lift weights seriously enough to get any results, you are by definition training at a pretty intense level. Try to do that half asleep and you’re not going to get it done and you may get injured. However, to reach the fat-burning range while walking on a treadmill or riding a bike you don’t have to have quite the same level of energy or be quite as alert. You’ll still be effective and you’re not likely to sustain an injury.
What are your training time options when you consider your work and family obligations?
OK, I saved the most important for last. In a perfect world, you would have the option to train whenever you liked and little things like work, significant others and family responsibilities wouldn’t be an issue. Now let’s exit from DisneyWorld and get back to reality a bit. Those things are all there and are incredibly important to a balanced and healthy life. Unless your training is your livelihood, you have to work it around your life, not the other way around. I’d suggest that you take out a day planner or a piece of paper and write out the times of the day in one-hour increments. Then fill in your daily responsibilities that you know you need to take care of and look at where your gaps are. There are your training time options. Now consider the issues we’ve already discussed and plan your training for Maximum Results!