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What is the best time to work out? What the science says

I wanted to start of this article by making it clear that if you are not working out regularly, this article probably is not for you. The first step for you would be to find the time during the day that is most suitable for you to build a habit of a regular exercise. On the other hand, if the only thing that can keep you away from the gym is an injury, then you might want to continue reading this article.

Work out timing is often overlooked by many, but it is possible to increase your performance and recovery time just by tweaking your workout schedule and the time of the day you go to gym. Studies have shown long term muscle size and strength gains in groups training at different times during the day.

Scientific studies

Several studies have been made comparing morning and evening workouts by Kuusma et al. 2016. One group was performing work outs in the morning between 6:00 - 10:00 h, and the other group between 16:30 - 20:00 h. Strength and endurance improved similarly, however, evening group had a higher muscle growth. This supports that muscle anabolic signaling is higher in the afternoon compared to the morning.

Laczo et al presented another data comparing morning and afternoon groups, with afternoon groups having on average 10% higher muscle growth.

Tim Sheett performed a study on bodybuilders to compare different work out times. One group trained before 10 in the morning, and the other group trained after 6 in the evening. Results: morning group had an increase of muscle size by +0.6% and an increase in fat mass by +5%, while the evening group had an increase in muscle size by +3.2% and a decrease in fat mass by -4% over a period of 10 weeks. Both groups trained 4 times a week.

What is really happening here? Why is one group doing better than the other one? Lets explore even further.