Now this is a question that keeps coming up and the answer is probably as diverse as the people who ask.
For the athlete it is essential that your body is at its optimum so you can get the best from it. Also it’s a good idea if you know the time of your event, you can then train the body around that time each day. Our bodies are very good at adapting and will eventually get used to training at a certain time of day. However if the event is generally not time specific then you have a decision to make. When is your body at its most alert to make the most of the training?
Watch Your Energy Levels
There are arguments for various times of the day and they all seem good ones. From personal experience of training both myself and my clients I believe that everyone is different and therefore one rule does not apply to all. However It does make sense to train when your energy levels are at their highest. I think it is safe to say that anything around mid afternoon to evening is best avoided. So we are left with the morning through to early afternoon. From here we can rule out first thing because after a night’s sleep you shouldn’t have eaten anything for a good 10 hours.
You definitely won’t have enough energy at this time of day. This still leaves a good period of the day to train and I believe that any time in this period is good as long as the following rule is applied: eat healthily before training and leave a good hour after eating before you start training.
Fitting Training Around Our Working Day
That applies to the professional athlete who has to dedicate their day to training. Unfortunately the majority of us have to dedicate our lives to our jobs and careers, which for the most part makes training at mid morning very difficult or impossible. So looking at the average working person we are left with first thing in the morning, lunch break or evening. Not a great choice and certainly not ideal.
But since the majority of us are not sports professionals does it really matter? Well quite frankly no, it does not. As long as you exercise and push yourself hard enough during the training then it will make little difference to your progress. The key is to pick a time you know that you personally are happy with and that you are less likely to make excuses to avoid.
Are You a Morning or Evening Person?
Morning people will pick the morning and it is my favourite time of day to train as it really sets you up for the day. Non morning people (like my wife) will never get out of bed however early they set their alarm – just 10 more minutes in bed is too tempting. These types will have to train later in the day. The benefit of training at lunch time is that it can really wake you up and invigorate you for the afternoon, the down side is that the majority of us are only allowed 1 hour lunches which surely won’t give us enough time to eat as well as exercise and the most important of the two is eating.
So that leaves the evening and even though I am more in favour of the other times of day I have had to train at this time and you have to approach it at a slightly different point of view. You may be tired at the end of the day so you will have to focus all your energy into the first exercise. If you have any pent up anger from a frustrating day, now is the time to release it. It is a fantastic way to remove all the frustration of a day!
And Don’t Forget Weekends!
The most important conclusion to this is that you train at the time you know you can make. As much as we like to relax at the weekend in my experience it is good to dedicate one of your 3 training sessions per week to one of your weekend days as this means you can train at a perfect time and it eases off some of the pressure during the week.