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Are Evening Workouts Better for Performance?

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Are Evening Workouts Better for Performance? – Thomas DeLauer

Study – Morning vs Evening Performance

A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism studied the effectiveness of a training program performed in the morning between 6:30am – 10am or in the evening between 4:30pm – 8pm for a 24 week period

This study investigated the effects of 24 weeks of morning versus evening same-session combined strength (S) and endurance (E) training on physical performance, muscle hypertrophy, and resting serum testosterone and cortisol diurnal concentrations

42 young men were matched and assigned to a morning (m) or evening (e)

All groups similarly increased 1RM in the morning (14%–19%) and evening (18%–24%) – however, during the training weeks 13–24 the evening groups did gain more muscle mass

Time to exhaustion increased in all groups in the morning (16%–28%) and evening (18%–27%) (1)

Review of a secondary study:

Published in the Indian Journal of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy,

Researchers studied how training in the morning vs the evening affected strength development

34 subjects were divided into 4 groups:

– 2 groups in the morning with 1 group doing eccentric work and the other doing concentric work (trained elbow flexors)
– Other 2 groups in the evening with 1 group doing eccentric work and the other doing concentric work (trained elbow flexors)

After 6 weeks, strength gains were significantly greater in the evening for eccentric exercise: 29% vs 23%

For concentric training, the trend was the same but less pronounced in favor of evening training with 23% vs 21% (2)

Why is this? Core Body Temperature Explanation

Core body temperature is low at night, rises quickly upon awakening and reaches a maximum in the early evening, and lowers before bedtime

The optimal body temperature for strength training normally occurs in the late afternoon to early evening 3:30pm till 8:30pm

During this time window, one has an optimal nerve conduction velocity, joint mobility, glucose metabolism and muscular blood flow – this is because core body temperature is the temperature at which your central organs operate

Enzymatic reactions are extremely sensitive to minor variations in your core body temperature – for the biological systems involved in high intensity physical exercise, the optimal temperature is relatively high

Most people can achieve higher muscle activation levels in the evening compared to the morning – we more quickly adapt to heat stress than we do to hypoxia

As a result, core body temperature correlates with exercise performance – people are normally strongest when their core body temperature reaches its daily peak

Additionally, a study published in- looked at rats exercising by running 5 days/wk up a 6% grade at 20 m/min for 60 min in either 73 degrees F or 39-46 degrees F

HSP 70 increased 12.3-fold in the 73 degrees group compared to sedentary control group and was unchanged in the cold room runners (3)


1) Effects of morning versus evening combined strength and endurance training on physical performance, muscle hypertrophy, and serum hormone concentrations – Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. (2016, August 29). Retrieved from http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/10.1139/apnm-2016-0271#.W6u7DGaZP-Z
2) Effect of Time of Day and Concentric or Eccentric Strength Training on Muscle Strength – ProQuest. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/openview/a5aeb169903878403195163dbec02afe/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2028906
3) Harris MB and Starnes JW. (n.d.). Effects of body temperature during exercise training on myocardial adaptations. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved ft
4) Hayes LD , et al. (n.d.). Interactions of cortisol, testosterone, and resistance training: influence of circadian rhythms. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20560706
5) Sedliak M , et al. (n.d.). Muscle strength, resting muscle tone and EMG activation in untrained men: interaction effect of time of day and test order-related confounding fact… – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22212257
6) Circadian Rhythms in Exercise Performance: Implications for Hormonal and Muscular Adaptation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761508/
7) Effect of Time of Day on Performance, Hormonal and Metabolic Response during a 1000-M Cycling Time Trial. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4188634/
8) Exercise in the fasted state facilitates fibre type-specific intramyocellular lipid breakdown and stimulates glycogen resynthesis in humans. (15, April). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1464435

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