When you’re in the midst of crafting a perfect workout routine, you may think that you’ve checked all the boxes. A workout split? Check. Cute new exercise clothes to spur motivation? Check, check. But when it comes to the exact time of your first workout, most people have the date in mind, but not much else. Morning? Night? Afternoon siesta? If you don’t know when is the best time to workout, the fitness experts are about to change that.
They answered all of your burning questions — including whether the early bird really does get the worm — below.
Is it better to work out in the morning or at night?
The answer to this is entirely up to you! “It all depends on the individual, their personal preferences and what they are trying to achieve with their fitness,” explains Lauren Wilson, Senior Master Instructor for CycleBar.
Morning, night, that hour after your lunch break when you should be working – what matters most is that you get your workout in. “Just get it in and don't worry about when!” says Kuudose Founding Trainer, Joey Thurman.
What is the best time of day to exercise?
Once again, scheduling workouts relies a lot on you. “Not everyone has the luxury to work out midday so based on the individual, I always encourage finding a time period that promotes consistency and will benefit your well-being,” says Wilson.
Thankfully, both morning workouts and evening workouts come with benefits to help you decide.
Starting with the morning: “Working out within the first hour of getting up in the morning wakes the body, spurs metabolism and sets the mindset for healthy habits the rest of the day,” says Lindsay Wandzilak, CEO and Founder of The Daily.
At the same time, waking up early isn’t for everyone. Some gravitate toward an evening sweat sesh since it allows them more time. Plus, there’s nothing like sweating out the tension after a hard day at work.
Is it better to exercise on an empty stomach?
To fuel or not to fuel? That is the question, but the answer to this varies, depending on your goals. For example, if you’re looking to put on muscle, Thurman says that eating something small may be your best option.
But if your goal is to shed some weight, skip that pre-workout eat. “Getting movement in on an empty stomach spurs fat burning that aids in making the most of your workout and speeds metabolism for the rest of the day,” says Wandzilak.
The answer to “is it better to exercise on an empty stomach?" also comes down to your diet. For instance, Kuudose Founding Trainer, Sarah Gillette, says that those who do Intermittent Fasting typically work out in a fasted state.
A note about hormones…
Ladies, listen up! Your hormones are another factor that determines whether it’s best to exercise on an empty stomach.
“The reason being that women's hormones are highly interconnected to our blood sugar and insulin, and in fact, your blood sugar balance is right up there beside your adrenals as the foundation of healthy hormones,” says Jenn Cico, a Certified Hormone Specialist, Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach. While men can typically get away with working out on an empty stomach, the science isn’t the same for women.
Is it okay to work out at night?
Night owls, rejoice! Working out at night is perfectly fine, and there are even some perks. “Some folks prefer working out at night because the gym is empty and they don’t have to wait around for certain equipment,” says Wilson.
Since you’ve had the whole day to prepare, she adds that you’re likely already fueled with proper nourishment and hydration (Vital Proteins Collagen Water™ is perfect for that). “This supports optimizing your effort during the workout.”
But working out at night isn’t all rainbows and empty gyms. There are some drawbacks – namely, your sleep. “Night workouts can stimulate the body and mind causing you to wake up a bit,” says Everlast Trainer Dr. Rick Richey.
In order to get to sleep soundly (no counting sheep, required!), Thurman recommends skipping that caffeinated pre-workout. You’ll also want to get your body ready for bed by doing this reset and recover routine that Gillette suggests: a cool down stretch or yoga session.
Can I work out twice a day?
While you can certainly double up your workouts, it does mean doubling up on the risk of injury and fatigue. To get a handle of both, Dr. Richey says to consider the intensity and duration of your workouts. “For some people, two workouts per day are a reasonable production. For others, a single 30-minute workout may do the trick.”
Another trick is to break up the intensity of your workouts – especially for beginners.
“Get your more intense workout done in the morning and choose something milder for round two,” says Wandzilak. “Something calm like a walk or yoga will ease the body into that route.”
If you have to work out twice (or even several) times a day due to a specific training program, Cico advises on creating a tension management protocol.
“Exercise increases our cortisol levels within the body, and if we are perpetually tense, it actually becomes counterintuitive and less progressive to our goals to be exercising more.”
This is where your rest day comes into play, as both Thurman and Gillette say that you should only perform two workouts in a day if you plan on resting the next. “Your next workout is only as good as your previous recovery,” says Gillette. Relieve tension on those days with meditation, breathwork and stretching, recommends Cico.
How many times a week should I work out?
“In general, you should resistance train two to three days a week and get some cardio in or light walking one to three days a week,” explains Thurman. This number will increase as you get stronger. But keep it manageable in the beginning to prevent burnout.
“More aggressive weekly fitness schedules that entail seven days a week can reap some short-term benefits, but they are much more challenging to stick to,” Wilson tells Lively.
Aim for that sweet spot instead. As with everything, though, how often you work out is all about you, including your current health and fitness and the goals you’re looking to crush.