Easy, quick workout timing tips

resistance training time of day
Men and women doing outdoor exercise. Bodyweight exercise.

Using the latest science on muscle clocks, the natural changes that occur to your body during each day, and timing we break down the best time of day to do your workouts based on your goals.

My goal is to lose weight, what is the best time of day to work out?

Fat utilization tends to be greatest in the late morning. This is important and suggests that if losing weight is your primary health and fitness goal you should exercise around 10 or 11 am.

My goal is to increase my cardiovascular fitness, what is the best time of day to work out?

Just like fat utilization, oxygen uptake for low to moderate intensity exercise appears to be optimized in the mid to late morning.

However, if you are doing high-intensity training (HIT), there is not a preference for time of day for oxygen consumption. Therefore, if you are in good enough health for HIT and enjoy doing it the body has been conditioned to respond optimally regardless of time of day.

My goal is to improve my overall health, what is the best time to work out?

This is where muscle clocks come in. Muscles clocks work with all your biological clocks like the master clock in the brain and other system clocks like the liver to synchronize your body and all its systems for optimal functioning. Muscle clocks have the greatest response to exercise in the morning; therefore, the best time of day to work out for general health is during the morning.

My goal is to manage type II diabetes, what time of day is best to work out?

Muscle clocks synchronize the muscles to the other body systems, and this is important to help manage metabolic disease like diabetes. Because muscle clocks tend to respond the best in the late morning and fat utilization is also optimized at that time the suggestion is that persons with diabetes exercise in the late morning; however, 2024 data suggests that the best time of day to do exercise if you have type II diabetes is after 6 pm to regulate glucose metabolism. This topic is trending, and we'll see a lot more data coming out soon.

 My goal is to improve muscle strength and power, what time of day is the best to work out?

 Muscle pliability or the ability of a muscle to stretch is greatest from 4 - 6 pm; therefore, muscle strength and power outcomes are best 4 - 6 pm and the recommended time of day to do resistance training is 4 – 6 pm.

What about youth and young adults? Are there any special considerations?

Time of day effects motor coordination in general. Specifically, motor ability, agility, and muscle strength were best from noon to late in the afternoon. Therefore, when thinking about young people and both safety and performance during exercise the best time of day to exercise is from noon to 4 – 6 pm.

Consistency is key.

Regardless of the time of day you work out, try to be consistent to comminate to your muscles and body at what time each day to anticipate exercise. Muscles do learn time and data shows they will click on the mechanisms associated with exercise outcomes 30 minutes prior to exercise; however, you must give them at least 4 - 6 weeks of consistency for them to learn and adapt.

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Ashmore, Amy. 2020. Timing Resistance Training: Programming the Muscle Clock for Optimal Performance. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.

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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