In this guide you will learn how to find the best time to workout by considering the following 5 basic factors.
Table of Contents
Investigate cortisol levels
Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. Its levels tend to rise when stress is present. It is also the hormone that gets us up in the morning.
You need to determine how your cortisol levels behave at different times of the day. Knowing this information can help you make the best of your workout as you should be exercising when you feel strong and focused, which usually happens when our cortisol levels are high.
For me personally, my cortisol is high in the morning. This means that the morning hours are perfect to get a good workout in.
How can you tell if you have high or low cortisol levels? It is easy. If you are having a hard time getting up in the morning on a daily basis (and provided that you go to bed early at night) and need extra stimulation (such as coffee) to start your day, then your cortisol levels are low.
If you can jump out of bed in the morning and have plenty of energy, then your cortisol levels are high.
That being said, the best way to find out about your cortisol levels is to get a saliva or blood test done at those 2 different times. The tests don’t lie!
Investigate personal Biorhythms
This is another parameter in the equation. In general, human beings are designed to perform at their peak early in the morning and should be sleeping at night.
Usually the lowest point (energy-wise) of our day happens during the 15:00-16:00 period. That is also the same time when some people have their siesta and take a nap. (Usually people from warmer climates as the heat tends to reach its highest point at that time).
However this does not apply to all people. Some might have their lowest point at an earlier or later time.
Once again, using myself as an example, I know that from 15:00-15:45, my energy levels are kinda low. This is why I plan my workouts around that time frame (on the weekends when I have a more flexible schedule):
- Either work out at 12:00 and should be finished by 13:00-13:30.
- Work out at 17:30-18:00 and should be finished by 19:00-19:30.
Consider your professional and other obligations
For most people, their careers are the biggest part of their lives. They have to basically plan everything around that.
If you work nights, then you don’t really have an option but to work out during the day. It can either be before you start work or another time after you wake up (based again on numbers 1 and 2 above).
If you work the normal 9-5, then you have 2 options:
- working out early in the morning (which is my preferred choice) or
- after work at around 18:00 or 19:00.
If your hours are not stable, then you are in quite a pickle but you can still figure it out. Just make sure you first establish how your body responds at different times of the day and try working out at different hours.
I have done it in the past when I was working very abnormal hours but there are too many variables to consider and it is something I can only advise on, based on the situation and individual.
Professional obligations are just a mere example. Other people might have family obligations such as kids, which makes things slightly more complicated but not impossible. Knowing the exact schedule of your kids, allows you to find out the right time for you to train.
Your workout time might interfere with your sleep
A lot of people complain that they cannot work out in the morning because their optimal workout time is in the afternoon. However, this has an impact on their sleeping patterns.
If you work out too hard in the late afternoon, you might have some issues with getting some sleep as you will be tensed from the workout.
If this sounds familiar, here is a couple of things that you can do:
a. Consider working out earlier
You will need to decide what comes first, your sleep or your workout. However, if you sacrifice your sleep in favor of your workouts, you will not make any progress as sleep is a must for muscular growth, weight loss, hormonal health and overall health. If you don’t fully understand the importance of sleep, I give a brief introduction in my article: 4 reasons why you can’t sleep.
So here is what you can do:
- You can work out in the morning (some people have found it more beneficial than working out in the afternoon, especially people with high cortisol levels).
- Or you can condition yourself to train 1 or 2 hours earlier, until you find the magic time that does not affect your sleep.
Believe it or not, doing your workout 60 minutes earlier than scheduled can have a tremendous impact on your sleep quality.
b. Consider taking sleeping aids
I have talked about sleeping aids and given basic guidelines in my article 21 simple ways to fix your sleep problems. So make sure you read that one, try them out and if that does not solve the problem, consider point A above again.
Rome was not built overnight. Even when you are working with an expert, experimentation will always be a part of the routine.
- Find out if you have high or low cortisol levels and at what times.
- Then establish which hours of the day you are feeling your best (higher energy levels) and
- then take into consideration how your working hours and other obligations unfold during the day.
Use all the information listed above to evaluate your unique situation and you will be able to find what is the best time for you to workout. This will enforce your personal determination to not skip workouts and will help you reach your health and physique goals especially if you are living a very hectic life full of personal and professional obligations.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this website.
Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. And as always live your life, strong, healthy and free!
by Nick Sigma SHF
CWC, EH, E-YRT200