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Morning Workout Versus Evening Workout: Which Is Better?

10th February 2021

10th February 2021

By Shivraj Bassi

Are you the kind of person who leaps out of bed at the first peal of their alarm, puts on the workout outfit they laid out the night before and runs off into the grey dawn beaming with joy? Or are you the kind of person who comes alive once the sun goes down, loves the peace and quiet of exercising when it’s dark outside and adores the feeling of falling into bed tired but happy from their recent workout?

Whatever your style, at the end of the day what matters is that you managed to fit exercise into your day, regardless of the time you do it. However, we are Innermost care deeply about going beyond the bare minimum and pushing our bodies and minds to the very best places they can go. Is there a time of day which is the most optimal to exercise?

What are the benefits of exercising in the morning?

The early bird catches the worm. By fitting in a workout before most people have managed to rouse themselves for their first coffee, you’ll have kickstarted your day and set yourself up for a productive, positive morning and afternoon. 

Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash

By exercising before tackling anything else on your to do list, you’ll be able to fully focus on your workout routine, as well as proving to yourself that you prioritise fitness and value making time to fit it into your schedule. A morning workout can also boost energy levels throughout the day, so you’re setting yourself up for productivity and focus with an earlying HIIT class or a swim

If you’re exercising to lose weight, you’ll be interested to know that working out before your first meal may help the body to burn fat more effectively compared to exercising later in the day, as well as boosting your metabolism so you’ll be burning more calories as you go about your workday and evening routine, even at rest. 

What are the negative side effects of morning workout?

When your alarm goes off before the sun has even risen, it’s no easy task to drag yourself out of your warm and cosy bed, put on tight gym clothes and head off into the early morning chill to jump on a treadmill. 

On a biological level, our lungs function at a lower rate in the mornings than in the evenings, as airways are more constricted following a full night of sleep. Additionally, joints and muscles are at their stiffest, making moving around more challenging and making your more prone to injuries. Make sure to stretch thoroughly to avoid this. 

Exercising in the morning also means that you’re more likely to be running on empty, as your body has just come out of sleep with no food and little water intake. An Innermost protein shake before or after your workout will help to combat this. 

What are the benefits of exercising at night? 

Are you a night owl? If you live for the moment the sun goes down and come alive in the evening when the rest of the world is winding down into rest, working out when the sun has sunk below the horizon could be a perfect fit for you. 

Science tends to think that exercising later in the evening is more beneficial than earlier in the day, as you’ll have more strength and energy. Your body temperature is higher at this time, which means that your joints and muscles are up to 20% more flexible. This means you’re far less likely to injure yourself. Metabolism and lung functions are also operating at a higher level, so it’s likely you’ll have more endurance and power. Finally, night time exercising is a great way to relieve stress and frustrations from the day. Boxing class where you imagine the bag is your boss, anyone?

What are the disadvantages of exercising at night?

Picture the scene: it’s 6pm, you’ve just left work, it’s raining and you’re exhausted after a day of pretending to pay attention in meetings. Would you rather hit the gym, or head home to your sofa for a long evening of Netflix and snacks? We know what the more tempting option is. 

You’re more likely to feel tired in the evening than in the morning and it’s also more likely your workout will get pushed to the side because of an emergency at work, family demands or the temptation of happy hour at that bar just around the corner from your office. 

It’s also possible that exercising close to the time when you go to bed could make it harder to fall asleep, as your body temperature, heart rate and metabolism will be elevated. To combat this, it could be helpful to do some yoga or gentle stretching before hitting the sack. 

Whichever time of day you choose to exercise, what matters is that you do it at all - and if this means waking up at 5am every day to a gym class or going for a bike ride around your neighbourhood at 10pm, it’s all about your personal lifestyle and time management. 

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From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions! Read more