TOPIC: What Is The Best Time Of Day To Weight Train?

The Question

Weight training is key to a bodybuilders success, so it is understandable why they would only want 100% out of their workouts.

In order to move the most weight, you have to be at your best, both physically and mentally. But when are you at your best?

What is the best time of day to weight train? Why?

Would alternating your workouts from morning to afternoon to night have any positive or negative effects?

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The Winners

  1. bitterplacebo View Profile
  2. RippedJordanian View Profile
  3. stonecoldtruth View Profile

1st Place bitterplacebo

The combination of scientific advances and our own analytical mind gives rise to a multitude of questions. Our inquisitive nature leads us down many roads of discovering the best and most efficient way of doing things. One question many of us have probably wondered about is how the time of day can influence our performance in activities.

One such activity to be analyzed is weight training. As we will see, though, the answer to the question of "when in the day is our weight training performance best?" is not clear cut. There are many paths to choose from, with different roads leading to various results depending upon the individual.

When Are You At Your Best:

In order to move the most weight, you have to be at your best, both physically and mentally. But when are you at your best?

The human body has evolved to function and sustain itself automatically, so that the brain can devote more energy to higher-level tasks. We have all adapted to cues in our environment that help our body trigger activation of certain systems and processes, while suppressing others.

The biggest environmental cue our bodies recognize, and react to, is light. The regulation of our bodily systems based on time of day is referred to as our circadian rhythm.

It should be noted that everyone's biological rhythms are different, and I will discuss the influences on performance based on a person with consistent sleeping and waking habits. This consistency actually helps to prevent unwanted stress and injury, and improve your performance in various activities. Assuming this regularity, the biggest difference between peoples' circadian rhythm tends to be their waking time:

Larks Vs. Owls:

There are some that rise from sleep earlier-waking up enthusiastic and full of energy. Such people are called "larks." Another type of person, the "owl," wakes later and more slowly than most, taking a few hours to get functioning and feel alert. Generally speaking, the owl will perform better in the late afternoon, while the lark will perform better in the morning.1

Both these types of people actually form a minority, though. Most people, about 60% to 70% of the population, are indifferent.2 This means they fall somewhere in between the lark and the owl.

The following compilation reviews points of interest for the average circadian rhythm:


  • Testosterone is at its daily peak.4
  • Mental alertness peaks late morning.4
  • Memory works best.5
  • Body temperature is still low.


  • Pain tolerance is highest.3
  • Possible point of low energy around noon.
  • Late afternoon, adrenalin and body temperature has a rising trend.4
  • Late afternoon, there is an optimum period of mental/physical function balance.4


  • Coordination, stamina, body temperature at a peak.4
  • Lung performance is best.6
  • Flexibility and strength at their greatest.7
  • Mental focus is waning.


  • Starting around 9pm, the body produces additional melatonin, preparing for sleep.4
  • Bodily processes should be slowing down in preparation for sleep.

Notice that many systems will not be at peak performance at the same times of day. Because of this, and with the addition of individual differences, it is difficult to give a time at which a person will be at their best. But with the given information so far, I would suggest late afternoon as a time of optimum performance in most of your body's processes.

Best Time:

What is the best time of day to weight train? Why?

From the given information on circadian rhythm, here are some suggestions based on unique goals:

  • Morning - Best potential for building muscle because testosterone is critical in protein synthesis and for rebuilding muscle fiber damaged in weight training. There is also greater mental focus, which may allow for greater mind-muscle connection and greater efficiency of muscle work done.
  • Afternoon - Best potential for breaking plateaus by employing muscle shocking techniques because pain threshold is highest and the limits of the body might be able to be pushed further than usual.
  • Evening - Best potential for strongest performance. This is the time of day when the body is in peak condition for physical activity.

Besides the purely physical observations about circadian rhythm that have been mentioned, there are other considerations that one might take into account when deciding the best time of day to weight train:


  • Is fat loss or fat storage prevention a goal? Morning exercise may help in reaching this goal partly due to higher than normal testosterone. It also helps that your body has not had much food to process yet, and may turn to fat for energy instead.
  • Exercise has shown to increase serotonin levels. Low serotonin has been shown to be related to depression. Exercising in the morning could possibly help elevate mood slightly for the rest of the day. It should be noted, however, that significant changes in overall mood can take a long time to occur, and will happen as a result of a general increase in serotonin.
  • Is the gym open at the time you want? I know my gym currently does not open at an early enough time for me to schedule a workout.
  • If you are able to get to a gym in the mornings, there are generally less people there. You won't have to fight over weights or machines. You're more free to move about and choose the exercises you'd like with less interruption and possibly less embarrassment if you're the shy type and trying something new for the first time.
  • By doing a workout in the morning, it will be out of the way, out of mind. There will be less worry about missing a workout and less stress in anticipation of your performance if it gets done sooner in the day.


  • Good balance between all the issues discussed in both morning and night sections.


  • If working out too late, this can affect you're body's natural time of slowing things down for sleep.
  • Working out increases ability to absorb nutrients on a cellular level. If adequate nutrition is not in place after a workout, the body might soon be left hanging for an eight hour fast while you sleep.
  • Is the gym open late?
  • More people tend to be at the gym because they are done with work or school for the day. It may be harder to get in all the specific exercises desired in a reasonable amount of time, as there may be waiting times for equipment.
  • How worn out a person gets from there school, work, or other daily activities might also play a role in their evening weight training efforts.

The Best:

Based on both these more obvious considerations and from the circadian rhythm information, I would recommend that weight training in the afternoon would be best. It has a nice balance of all the aspects and issues presented. In fact, the only real drawback I could think of might be that it may be harder to schedule for some--due to other commitments like work or school.

For those that cannot do afternoons, just try to schedule training at a time that is either most comfortable, convenient, or when equipment is most freely accessible. What is most important is not placing undue stress upon yourself by worrying too much about when you train-your body will figure things out no matter what time it is.

Alternating: Would alternating your workouts from morning to afternoon to night have any positive or negative effects?

Positive Effects:

The most obvious positive effects that alternating workout times would be that all the individual benefits that each time presents will be incorporated. This might also help in avoiding pitfalls due to the body adapting to a daily regimen.

Negative Effects:

The most significant negative effect would be that this alternation of training time will take a great deal of planning. This will place many difficulties upon future even scheduling and may lead to many complications. This may cause a person to feel more stressed than usual, and chronic stress is not something to be desired.

Some Effects Of Stress

  • Digestion takes a lot of energy. In a stressful situation, the body needs energy elsewhere, so the digestive system slows or shuts down. If an individual is mentally stressed all the time, the same thing happens, but this time it is a bad because digestion is actually in the body's best interest.

  • Growth is a long term process. Under acute stress, the body is concerned with getting blood to muscles to move you quickly and strongly, not with growing, which makes sense. However, while under chronic stress, the same thing holds - a greatly stressed person will have reduced levels of growth hormones.

  • The reproductive system takes energy that the body would need elsewhere in a stressful event, so its functions stop under stress. An individual with chronic stress risks lowering sex hormones such as testosterone.

Under these circumstances, I would say that the negative effects of alternating workout times would outweigh any positive effects.

The Choice Is Yours:

At this point, the decisions are entirely up to you. There is much information showing that performance is influenced by time of day, however, it is only through our experiences that we gain wisdom about ourself.

I encourage everyone to try working out at all times of the day in hopes of discovering their "best" time.



2nd Place RippedJordanian


"The best time to workout is actually determined not by science but buy your own life and commitments. For example, if working out in the evenings causes family problems, because you miss out on seeing your children grow up, it's a good time scientifically, but a bad time personally."

Depending on your goals, it is important to schedule your workouts - if possible - at times where your body is in an ideal state to workout. Each person's schedule differs, and this makes it impossible to workout at a specific time. However, this article will help you if you have need to make a choice between different workout times to find which is best.

This article is divided into 2 parts. The first part explains what time is best, scientifically, to work out. Factors affecting this include hormones, energy levels, and pain tolerance. The second part explains what time would be ideal in this busy world we live in today.

Factors include, marital status, family, work times, and gym times. But remember, working out at any time in the day is much better than not working out at all. Some people are just naturally morning, evening, or night people, and their own personal choice will effect their most efficient workout time of the day.

Part I

A lot is going on in our body that we don't know about, but can affect our ability to maximize our workout. Hormone production, energy levels, pain tolerance, and body temperature can all affect the efficiency of our workouts. This part will tell you how to time your workouts to use these factors to your advantage.

Hormone Production


Long story short, cortisol is a bad hormone, and we don't want it. It promotes fat storage and muscle breakdown. Cortisol levels are highest during the first 2 hours after you wake up, and decrease gradually after that. However, this isn't a problem because, during your workout, your cortisol levels will spike anyways.

Basically, cortisol should not be taken into consideration when deciding when to workout because your cortisol levels rise anyway during workout, and morning exercise has other benefits.

Growth Hormone

Growth hormone is not based on time of day, rather, how many hours you sleep every day. Growth hormone promotes muscle growth, so getting a good long night sleep will certainly help.


Testosterone is basically the masculine hormone. More testosterone means more muscle, which is why steroids work so well. Testosterone levels peak in the morning, which means it is best to workout in the morning for both fat loss and muscle building.

Energy Levels

Energy is obviously a large factor in the intensity of your workout. If your muscles don't have enough energy, how are you going to workout?

Energy levels are peaked during the day and drop at night because of your circadian rhythms. However, for muscle building, it is best to have at least 2 meals to give your body energy to use at the gym. So, if you wake up at 7, eat immediately, then eat another meal at 10:00 and it the gym at 11:00 for muscle building.

If you want to loose fat however, it is best to do cardio on an empty stomach or after ingesting some protein and a fat burner. This is because your body has been without food for 8 hours, and there is little more than fat in your body to be burned for energy. So for muscle, the best time is a few hours after you wake up, for fat loss, immediately after waking up.

Strength & Flexibility:

More strength for lifting means more muscle stimulation, which means more growth. As a result, your strength levels are an important factor if you want to build muscle, considerably less if you want to loose fat.

Flexibility is also important for muscle building because more flexibility means less chance of injury and larger range of motion, which both mean more muscle mass. Flexibility, again, is less important for burning fat.

Strength and flexibility peak during the late afternoon.

"Athletes seem to perform best in the late afternoon, when strength, body temperature and flexibility peak."

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is highest in the morning after waking up, so if you have any special medical conditions or blood problems, it is best to consult a physician before exercising in the morning, or at any time for that matter. For people without blood pressure problems, working out in the morning is completely fine for both goals.

Pain Tolerance

"Athletes who compete late in the day may perform better because they can 'gain' without as much 'pain.'"

Pain tolerance is greatest in the afternoon, so you can push yourself to your limits without experiencing as much pain. For bodybuilders, this is an essential factor! So for both building muscle and losing fat, you should train in the afternoon to reduce pain and push harder.

Mental Status

Generally, you feel much more refreshed in the morning after eating a good meal. It ha also been proven that you can concentrate more in the morning, and concentration on the weight you are lifting or on your cardio is essential for improving your physique. So, mentally, it would be best to workout in the morning.


"Morning exercise allows you to maximize the benefits of something exercise physiologists call EPOC. EPOC stands for 'excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.'"

Basically, this means that working out in the morning will boost your metabolism and make you burn more calories through out the rest of the day than working out at night. This is important for both muscle building and fat loss!


Overall, from all the factors evaluated, the best time to workout is after eating 1 or 2 meals 3-4 hours after waking up, at 10:00-11:00 for people who wake up at 7:00. However, this can be an inconvenient time. Read the next part to find what personal factors can affect your best time to workout.

Part II

Whether you are a teenager, working adult, or whether you have a family or not, your personal life will almost always get in the way of your favorite time to workout. That's why it is essential to also evaluate the different personal factors affecting our best workout time.

Working Hours

Unless training in the office is possible, or you can convince your boss to give you a different shift, your working hours are pretty much fixed and you're going to have to work around them.

However, an exception is if your work gives you a 2 or 3 hour break in the middle of the day during which you can hit the gym. But don't take too long! Prioritize your life, would you rather schedule your workouts around your work, or quit your current job and find another job that doesn't conflict with your workout times? I thought so...

Family First

Your family is the most important thing in your life, and if you decide to workout after work, you may find yourself missing out on valuable time with your children, wife, or at home. It is best to schedule the workout in the morning before work so that you have the evening to finish your work and be with your family.

If you are a teenager in school, morning workouts are also a good option so you can finish off your homework, but, since the school day finishes earlier than the work day, after school is also a popular option.

Gym Times

Maybe your gym doesn't open in the morning at 5:00, or maybe it doesn't stay open until 12:00 when you are free. Also, keep in mind that there are specific times when the gym is most crowded, making it difficult to concentrate and making your workout take longer time. Check with your gym to see its working hours, and ask about the most crowded times to try to avoid these times.

Unexpected Complications

Sometimes problems or urgent and important errands will arise that you have to do. Make sure you pick a time least probably to be interrupted by work or family, and make it a habit to go every single time to a scheduled workout. Working out at a different time every day makes it hard for your body to adapt, and it lowers your motivation.


Are you a morning, afternoon, or nighttime person? Do you need 5 cups of coffee in the morning to wake up, or do you feel refreshed as soon as you get out of bed.

It is important to pick a workout time where you feel most motivated and comfortable, regardless of scientific factors. Even if you picked a time where all the physical and personal factors are at their best, if you don't feel like working out, you won't!


Regarding personal factors, the best time to workout would be when you feel at your best, and during a time when the gym is less crowded and you are less likely to be interrupted by family or by work. Also, pick a time that will not interfere with the amount of time you spend with your children.

Best Time

What is the best time of day to weight train? Why?

The best time of the day to workout is a time when you feel at your best physically and mentally, when you can concentrate, when your gym is not crowded, when you cannot be interrupted, preferably in the morning after having a meal as proved in the scientific factors. Read the reasons above to find out why.

Alternating Workouts

Would alternating your workouts from morning to afternoon to night have any positive or negative effects?

Changing the time when you workout can be beneficial, but it will not be as effective as changing other factors, and it could cause other problems. These problems include lack of commitment to workouts after changing the time, because you are out of habit or you don't feel like it.

In my opinion, working out should become a habit at a specific time in the day, which will make you more motivated and get you better results. If you hit a plateau, change the time of your workout only as a last resort, of changing all else fails!

However, if your goals are changing, changing the workout times could be beneficial. For muscle building, the best times are morning or afternoon, not any later, so you are more flexible. However, for loosing fat, your best time is in the morning for sure. If you have been building muscle by working out in the afternoon, you could change your workout times to the morning as you begin cutting which help tremendously, and it will also surprise your body.

If you have any more questions, contact me at, or PM me on the forums, my nickname is rippedjordanian. I hope you learned from this article.


3rd Place stonecoldtruth

Weight training is key to a bodybuilder's success, so it is understandable why they would only want 100% out of their workouts.

There are so many factors that go into setting up one's workout plan, that we end up ignoring an important factor in our growth (or weight loss) opportunities: Workout Timing.

Most people will tell you that there really isn't a 'best time' to work out, and that that most important thing is that you workout period. They are half-right, the timing of workouts is probably way down the list of factors in your success.

Nutrition, Sleep, and Training Style are going to be more important than the time of day that you train. However, with that said, don't you want to give it your best every time you go into the gym? Many of you spend thousands of dollars a year on supplements that help boost your performance, let's take a look at something you can do FOR FREE to increase your effectiveness in the gym.

When Are You At Your Best?

In order to move the most weight, you have to be at your best, both physically and mentally. But when are you at your best?

Our bodies run on cycles, or rhythms, that if monitored, can show us when our bodies are at peak performance. Humans run on what is known as a Circadian rhythm (Latin for 'around the day') controlled by the hypothalamus (part of the brain), these rhythms help to control our metabolism and body temperature.

The Circadian rhythm typically reacts to cues such as sunlight and temperature, which explains why many of us are more active during the daytime and in the warmer weather. This also gives some credence to the theories of weight loss being affected by season.

Within the Circadian rhythm our bodies experience temperature changes throughout the day. These temperatures typically are at their highest in late afternoon and at their lowest in the hours before and following when we wake up. However, the Circadian rhythm depends largely on your existing schedule.

It is quite possible that your Circadian rhythm has adapted itself around what you've already been doing, so it is best to find out what your own rhythm is.

The easiest, and most accurate, way to find your rhythm is going to take about a week to figure out, but trust me it is worth it. What you will do is for an entire week you will be monitoring your body's temperature at certain times of the day.

Ideally you want to take your temperature around every 2-3 hours during this week to have more reference points, but a bare minimum you need to take it upon waking, around lunch time, and around dinner time. After you have a week's worth of information you should be able to plot what times of day your temperature was highest.

Now that we know when your temperature is peaked we can make assessments on when to train. During this peaked time your body will experience several benefits:

  • Greater Flexibility
  • Greater Focus
  • Greater Strength
  • Greater Endurance
  • Faster Reaction Time
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Lower Resting Heart Rate

With all of these benefits, do you really still think that all workout timing is created equal?

Best Time

What is the best time of day to weight train? Why?

The best time of the day to train is going to be the 2-3 hours immediately before or after your body's peak temperature (see above for more information). This is going to allow you to give your workout everything you have, which is in essence the only way to train.

For different people this time may vary greatly, which is why anyone telling you to train 'in the morning' or 'after work' is not giving you solid advice. Training advice is like diet advice; it is not one-sized fits all. However, most people tend to experience their high points in the late afternoon, and their lows in the hours before waking. That being said, your best bet is still to test this for yourself.

If you are unable to train during your peak hours, you should at least try to avoid the hours before/after your lowest temperature range. Those times are going to typically leave you with less energy for your workout and a lot less focus. There are some benefits to working out during your 'low points', but they are outweighed by having a sub par workout.

Now, there is an exception to the rule! If you are training for some specific event or competition, then the temperature timing might not be the best for you. An example would that if you are into soccer; you know that every Saturday afternoon you have a game from Noon-3PM.

This is a chance for you to make your body adapt to your schedule! By making your workouts consistently around that time range, your body's Circadian rhythms will adjust to provide you with better energy and higher temperatures during that time frame. So if you are training for something specific, then the goal becomes not to adjust to your high points but instead to change them.

On the topic of changing your Circadian rhythms, it can be done! Many of us bodybuilders keep odd hours at work, and find ourselves going to the gym during the dead of night or early in the morning. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because if you are consistent with your scheduling you can make your body adapt to this type of training.

However, this is a slower process and some people have a harder time adjusting than others. This, as with almost everything else, depends largely on your body and its adaptability.

The final note on this question relates back to the introduction: The most important part is that you train. It is understandable that not all can schedule their lives around the gym. This is where certain supplements do come in handy; however imagine the potential you could have combining the proper nutrition, training, training timing, and supplementation. This is how you transcend from being a man to a beast.

Alternating Workouts

Would alternating your workouts from morning to afternoon to night have any positive or negative effects?

Alternating workouts seems to sometimes be a necessary evil associated with having any type of life outside of the gym; however it should be avoided as often as possible. There is certainly nothing wrong with training at both morning and afternoon, as there are many pros that do 2-a-day cardio when they are close to contest time.

However, for the sake of our body's internal rhythm, it is best to avoid alternating the workouts wherever possible. There again, there is an exception to this rule as well. Some people have had success with alternating workout timing as a way to manipulate your body's rhythm. This takes careful monitoring but can be done to your advantage.

In the end, optimal timing would be ideal. If that is not an option, consistency is key. Failing consistency, the fact that you work out is all that matters.


This is still, and probably always will be, a highly debated topic. My workout schedule is actually quite different from most peoples seeing as I work a fluctuating shift at work. There have been weeks where my timing would be different every day, and I could see my workouts suffering.

In the end it comes down to how much are you willing to put into this to receive good returns? How far are you willing to go? I'm not recommending anyone balk on commitments and responsibilities at all, but I am saying that after seeing both the positives and negatives of workout timing that it can make all the difference.

Editor Tip: The editor appreciates when references are included. This just shows that you are not stealing work and are giving proper credit when due. Keep up the good work. Most people will not mind their work being borrowed as long as they are contacted for permission and given credit for what was used. Thanks!

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