What time is better to train? It depends on the type of exercise

When we propose to start practice a sport, or we want to improve our performance, surely different things come to mind questions on how to organize our sessions training. One of them is usually related to the most appropriate time of day to practice physical activity. Is it better to train in the morning? Or should I go to the gym in the evenings? What if what I do is a long-term workout? What’s real in everything we hear about biorhythms? Why do I feel better when I train at a certain time?

We will analyze in the following lines these aspects of the performance, as well as the influence it has on our rest practice sport at one hour or another. First of all you have to understand that we cannot understand the performance without a correct Recovery.

Hormone levels, biorhythms and performance

A good physical performance during the day is in many cases related to a good quality of sleep at night. This enables the organism a suitable Recovery and therefore a better performance the next day. In those people who suffer from sleep problems, this could be an aspect of great relevance.

We must bear in mind that the sleep quality It could be modified by the body’s biorhythms or circadian rhythms. These depend on the hormonal changes that occur. In this way, and answering this section, the question would be: according to our biorhythms, will it be better to train in the morning or in the afternoon?

In principle, during the morning and in healthy people, we find higher levels of cortisol and of testosterone. The first of them is called hormone stress, and is related to the catabolism, or put another way and in what is of interest to us here, protein degradation.

The testosterone meanwhile, it is a anabolic hormone, that is, protein synthesis and its high levels during the morning could counteract cortisol levels.

We could think about taking advantage of effects of this hormones for better performance. However, and although it seems that training during the afternoon (for example, strength training) helps to lower cortisol levels towards the last hours of the day, facilitating later rest, studies they are contradictory in this sense.

In this way, at the moment we cannot guarantee that training in the morning or in the afternoon has a significant relevance if we stick to hormonal levels.

Training and nervous system

The time to which the training could have a different effect on our autonomic nervous system. This is subdivided in turn into the nervous system kind Y parasympathetic. The first of them is related to situations of stress and alertness, while the second has the opposite effect on our body, to understand us, it generates a state of calm in it.

The practice of physical exercise creates changes in the autonomic nervous system, which can alter the quality of sleep during the night. To analyze and understand the changes on this, you can study the changes it causes on the heart rate.

First of all, we must understand that a intense training the heart rate increases after exertion, due to the stimulus on the sympathetic nervous system. In that sense, we know that an afternoon workout could worsen the quality of sleep for some people. Furthermore, science shows us that a training by morning it generates an increase towards the last hours of the day of the parasympathetic system and does not interfere with the quality of sleep or recovery for the next day.

Therefore, it would be possible to find people who, after a training towards the end of the day, find it difficult to rest, something not desirable. In that sense, it would be advisable to train in the mornings to benefit, in addition, from the trigger effect that physical exercise has on the body.

But when do you get better performance then?

We already have an idea of ​​the effects who have the training and the different times of the day in our body. But, if I want to achieve the best possible performance, and I have no problems sleeping, when is it better to train?

The science is more or less conclusive as to the training of force. In principle, if we have to choose, we should train during the afternoon. At this time of day the levels of activation Y muscle contraction they are usually older. It is therefore, compared to the morning, where higher performance peaks are achieved.

The same does not happen in the case of aerobic training (development of activities with less intensity but for longer periods of time, with the aim of achieving greater resistance), where there does not seem to be a great difference between the results obtained at some hours or others.

In the same way, the anaerobic training (It consists of doing high intensity activities such as weight lifting, short sprints at high speed or any exercise that requires a lot of effort for a short time) of short duration achieves its best performance peaks towards the afternoon. This could be due to increased body temperature during this period, which has a good warming effect on the body, promoting a better later state.

Even with this information, we must take into account some aspects. The first is that strength and hypertrophy gains are similar regardless of the time of day you train. On the other hand, the body has a great capacity of adaptation, and if the training is done regularly in the morning, the performance will be comparable to that in the afternoon. So, we should not worry if our training should be done before noon as long as it has a continuity.

Finally, it is important to note that, if we have to compete in the morning or in the afternoon, we will adapt noestraw organism to training in the same time slot.

Health and training at different times of the day

We do not want to close this article without making a brief note about the effects what about health train at different times of the day. It is a broad and complex issue, but we would like to give an example: the time of day, the time of day and the characteristics of the sporting activity could be elements to take into account when improving some health problems.

Let’s start by mentioning a topic that will always be topical: the loss of grease or the overweight. In this sense, some studies show us that training in the morning and before breakfast could have a positive effect about him organism, since a 24-hour increase in fat oxidation has been observed. This stimulus would not be similar if the training was carried out after breakfast or throughout the day.

On the other hand, a aerobic training in the morning could have a positive effect on blood pressure and it would normalize its values, probably thanks to the modulation that exercise has on the autonomic nervous system.

In this way, when we go to choose the time of day to train, it will not only be a matter of physical performance, but a process of individualized programming guided by a professional attending to the overall health of the person.


If we are going to start strength training or do a anaerobic training, the afternoon is surely the best time of day to do it.

The aerobic training or of long duration, it would not have any inconvenience in being carried out both in the morning and in the afternoon.

However, we need to be able to to adapt the training at needs of athlete. In this way, if the competition is at a specific time, the training must be carried out at a similar time to achieve an adaptation of the body to the desired time slot.

Finally, we must bear in mind that training is not only a process of seeking performance, but that the movement in itself implies Health. In this way, perhaps for some people it is advisable to carry out their physical activity in the morning. Thus, training will not alter your sleep quality and it will allow them a better control over their weight and a more efficient fat burning.

* This article was published on The Conversation and reproduced here under the Creative Commons license. Click here to read the original version.

* David Recuenco Serrano is director of the Degree in Sciences of Physical Activity and Sports. In addition, he is Director of the Double Degree in CCAFYD and Physiotherapy, Nebrija University.


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