5 Timing Tips to Improve Your Workouts – Includes a Quiz!

chronotype programming resistance training time of day
Fitness center.

Timing Tips and Self-Quiz

Fitness programming is complicated. With so many options it is tough to decide where to start and how to customize your workouts for best results. However, new research shows us that the key to getting better and faster results is to align your workouts with your body’s natural rhythms. Here are five easy tips to personalize your workouts.

Tip #1: Time your workout mode in alignment with biological clocks.

  • Endurance and stamina peak first thing in the morning. Early to mid-morning is the best time for cardiovascular or aerobic training.
  • Cognition is greatest around midday. Do sport specific and mental training like meditation late morning to early afternoon.
  • Strength is greatest for most people between 4 and 6 pm. Testosterone peaks and size and strength gains are optimized during that time.
  • Speed and power are also maximized between 4 and 6 pm.
  • Muscle pliability peaks between 4 and 6 pm. Flexibility is greatest at that time, and stretching is more comfortable and easier.

Tip #2: Time your workouts in alignment with your Chronotype, or natural sleep-wake cycle.

Take the quiz below to find out your Chronotype, and pass the quiz along to clients and friends to determine theirs.

  1.  You have to do 2 hours of physically hard work. If you were entirely free to plan your day, in which of the following periods would you choose to do the work?
    1. 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m....4 points
    2. 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m....3 points
    3. 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m......2 points
    4. 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.......1 point
  2.  You have to take a 2-hour You know it will be mentally exhausting. If you were entirely free to choose, when would you choose to take the test?
    1. 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m....4 points
    2. 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.....3 points
    3. 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m......2 points
    4. 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m......1 point
  3.  A friend has asked you to join him twice per week for a workout. The best time for him is between 10 p.m. - 11 p.m. With nothing else in mind other than how you normally feel in the evening, how do you think you would perform?
    1. Very poorly................4 points
    2. Poorly........................3 points
    3. Well enough...................2 points
    4. Very well...........1 point
  4.  We hear about 'morning' and 'evening' types of people. Which of these types do you consider yourself?
    1. Definitely morning type..........................6 points
    2. More a morning than an evening type...4 points
    3. More an evening than a morning type...2 points
    4. Definitely an evening type .....................0 points

Add your scores together to get your total and compare your score with the table below to get your Chronotype. Your Chronotype suggests your best time of day to train where overall fitness and pleasure are your primary goals.

Definitely morning type..... 14 – 16 points

Moderately morning type... 11 – 13 points

Neither type ...................... 9 – 10 points

Moderately evening type... 4 – 8 points

Definitely evening type......0 - 3 points

Tip #3: Stick to a regular schedule.

Whatever your Chronotype suggests is the best time of day for you to train and your schedule permits, stick to a regularly timed workout plan. We know from sports and test taking that whatever time you practice is when you perform best. The same is true for fitness. Your body gets accustomed to the routine, and the next tip shows you why.

Tip #4: Use Anticipation.

Your muscles can anticipate an upcoming workout. When you let them know what is coming up they ready themselves for each workout, and results are enhanced. How do muscles know what is coming?

Inside each one of your 600 muscles, there is a mini biological clock1. These tiny clocks pay careful attention to your sleeping and eating patterns along with changes in the environment like light, and regularly scheduled exercise. With the help of your muscle’s biological clocks, your body knows when to anticipate an upcoming workout and makes the necessary changes to the muscle’s molecular structure in anticipation and results like calories burned and strength gained are maximized.

Tip #5: Use intermittent rests similar to intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is the notion that cavemen didn’t eat regularly, and they were totally fine and in fact thrived. The idea behind intermittent fasting is to fast on two non-consecutive days per week. Borrowing from intermittent fasting is the idea of intermittent rest. Take two non-consecutive days off per week and schedule your most intense sessions prior to a day off for full recovery.

To explore the latest RT methods and earn PT CEUs, click here.


Elizabeth A. Schroder and Karyn A. Esser. 2013. Circadian Rhythms, skeletal muscle molecular clocks and exercise. Exercise and Sport Sciences Review. Oct; 41(4): 10.

Author Biography

Amy Ashmore, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a physical therapy continuing education provider located in Las Vegas, NV.


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