Best Time to Work Out for Hypertrophy: Morning, Afternoon or Evening?

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Let’s get straight to it: Research suggests that afternoon workouts might be ideal for maximizing hypertrophy, or muscle growth. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Afternoon (2:30 pm – 8:30 pm): This time frame coincides with higher core body temperature, which can lead to higher performance and increased muscle blood flow. Additionally, testosterone levels, which are crucial for muscle building, tend to be higher in the morning and early afternoon.
  • Morning: While mornings may not be the absolute best for hypertrophy, due to higher cortisol levels, they are still a great time to exercise as your morning workouts will energize you for the rest of the day.

Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Sleep Schedule: If you follow a regular sleep cycle, aim for workouts 6-7 hours after waking.
  • Your Preference: Ultimately, the best workout time is the one you’re most likely to stick with consistently. We all have different responsibilities throughout the day, some of which are more important than working out, such as family and children. Therefore, you want to find an ideal spot in your daily schedule and stick to it.
  • Workout Plan: For hypertrophy, you really want to focus on lifting heavy loads, whether you’re doing traditional weightlifting or calisthenics. If you’re doing calisthenics, go with slow and control reps (2-3 second per rep) as opposed to fast reps. You might want to wear a weight vest for even better results.

Let’s get in the details

The timing of workouts for muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) can vary based on personal preference, lifestyle, physiological differences, and practical considerations. While there isn’t a definitive best time universally applicable to everyone, various factors can influence the effectiveness of your training session. Here’s a breakdown of how different times of the day might impact your muscle-building efforts:

Morning Workouts

Pros:

  • Increased Consistency: Morning workouts are less likely to be interrupted by other daily responsibilities, leading to more consistent training.
  • Enhanced Metabolism: Exercising in the morning can kickstart your metabolism, potentially helping with fat loss which can complement muscle definition.
  • Mental Boost: Starting the day with a workout can increase mental clarity for the rest of the day.

Cons:

  • Stiffness and Injury Risk: The body’s core temperature is lower in the morning, which might increase the risk of injury if proper warm-up is not done.
  • Lower Strength Levels: For some, strength levels and physical performance peak later in the day, which might affect the intensity you can bring to a morning workout.

Afternoon Workouts

Pros:

  • Peak Performance: Studies show that physical performance might peak in the early afternoon, with improved reaction times, strength, and endurance.
  • Warmed-up Body: The body’s temperature increases throughout the day, potentially decreasing the risk of injuries and improving muscle function and performance.

Cons:

  • Potential Conflicts: Work or school schedules can make it difficult to fit in a workout consistently during afternoons.

Evening Workouts

Pros:

  • Higher Strength Levels: Muscle strength and function tend to peak in the late afternoon and evening, which can lead to more effective sessions and potentially greater gains.
  • Stress Relief: Evening workouts can be a great way to relieve the stress accumulated throughout the day.

Cons:

  • Disrupted Sleep Patterns: For some people, exercising close to bedtime can interfere with their ability to fall asleep.
  • Crowded Gyms: Gyms tend to be more crowded in the evenings, which might affect the availability of equipment and the quality of your workout.

Night Workouts

Pros:

  • Convenience: For those who have busy daytime schedules, nighttime might be the only option available.
  • Relaxation Post-Workout: After completing the day’s obligations, a workout can provide a good wind-down routine for some.

Cons:

  • Energy Levels: After a long day, energy levels might be depleted, potentially affecting workout intensity.
  • Sleep Disruption: As with evening workouts, exercising too close to bedtime can be stimulating and hinder sleep quality.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the best time to work out for muscle hypertrophy is when you can consistently perform, maintain a high intensity, and fit exercise into your lifestyle without it affecting your sleep or recovery. It’s also important to listen to your body and adjust based on how you feel and perform during workouts at different times. If you are serious about hypertrophy, consider experimenting with different timings to find what personally works best for you.

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