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Is there a best time of day to train?

Is there a best time of day to train?

Should we train morning or evening, is it better in our lunch-break, or just whenever we have the time? 

There is in fact a scientific study that suggests there is an optimal time to train. Training at the right time can make you stronger, faster and more powerful.

We all have what’s called a circadian rhythm, which is our daily cycle of biological activity – the most obvious of these is the sleep-wake cycle.

This is due to our internal clock – the part of our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. This SCN functions a little like you would expect a pacemaker to. SCN interacts with pretty much every major system in the body.

What time of day is best for exercise?

But it’s alright talking all this science, all you really need to know is the best time to train. And the answer, according to studies, is usually between 2.30pm and 8.30pm (yep, quite a large window of opportunity!) If your sessions are longer than an hour, train a little bit earlier. This advice is based on the assumption that you sleep when it’s dark and are awake during daylight hours.

For those with an altered or irregular sleep-wake cycle, like students or shift workers, then you should wait at least six hours after waking before starting your training, so it’s likely that your optimal training time will be close to 8.30pm.

Peak performance times, called the acrophase, differs across activities as well, so swimming performance peaks a little later in the evening than most land-based activity. You may have noticed a time of day when you perform better naturally, so it’s a good assumption to believe this is your peak time for training.

Use your heart rate to gauge when the best time is for you. The time of day when your resting heart rate peaks is normally the best time of day to train.

the author

Laura Briggs

Laura is a fitness writer who loves running ultra marathons. In addition to training for her epic runs she finds time for strength training, Pilates and Yoga. .