Time of Day Affects Your Training
Ever wonder why you seem to perform better at a particular time of day? Or whether or not you should be exercising in the morning or evening? A recent review of research on the matter may help you answer these questions.
An article in this month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that there may, in fact, be an optimal time to train – at least for some types of exercise. Without belaboring the science too much, the consensus in the literature seems to be that high-intensity, short-duration exercise that relies heavily on neuromuscular efficiency (e.g., sprints, jumps and other power movements) is best performed in the afternoon or early evening for optimal performance.
It isn’t completely clear why this is, but we think it may have something to do with the fact that the natural circadian rhythm of core temperature results in a passive warm-up effect at this time, enhancing metabolic reactions, increasing extensibility of connective tissue, reducing muscle viscosity and increasing conduction velocity of action potentials (that is, the speed at which our brains can tell our muscles what to do).
What does it mean for you? If you’re [not Usain Bolt...] training for power or neuromuscular efficiency, you’ll probably get better results if you train in the afternoons. BUT, according to the review, regularly training in the morning can improve typically poorer morning performances to the same (and possibly greater) level as the peak observed later in the day. So if you have some type of power competition that will take place in the morning, training in the morning is probably your best bet for success on that day. Not sayin’ you’ll beat the fastest man alive…but you may get slightly closer to a PR.
Similarly, strength training adaptations seem to be greater at the time of day at which training is typically conducted. Interestingly, training in the morning produces favorable performance in both the morning and evening, whereas evening training sessions do not seem to have the same carryover to morning performance.
As for the consensus on the effects of time of day on aerobic training…well, there isn’t one. As far as we can tell, it’s mostly individual. But something tells me we’ll keep looking for any edge we can get.
That said, bring on the Olympics!
Filed under: Did You Know?