Are Your Circadian Rhythms an Influencing Factor?
Early morning, at noontime or after work, what is the best time for your workout? This is a question that has troubled bodybuilders for eons.
"Morning People" say that early in the AM before you begin the rest of your day is the best time because you start the day refreshed from your iron-pumping and cardio.
"Late Night People" say that after work or in the evening is the best time because you don't approach your workday tired from heavy lifting.
Those folks with some social life, other than the gym, think that working out during the lunch period is the best because it breaks up your day . . . and you have time to socialize in the evening.
What does science say about all of this? There are a number of considerations; sleep-and-wake cycles, individual preferences, work schedules and physiological differences.
This is the term that describes sleep-and-wake cycles. The CR regulates our temperature, blood pressure and metabolism. It also has an influence on mental alertness and other bodily functions.
Generally controlled by day and night hours during a twenty-four hour cycle, circadian rhythms may be reset voluntarily by work schedules and other behavioral influences.
People who exercise at a given time each day, train their body to expect their muscle-flushing at that same time.
When this schedule is interrupted, the person doesn't feel as strong or energetic at the new time, but they will soon adjust.
This ability to adjust our rhythms is important to athletes training for a particular event. They adjust their training schedule to coincide with the time of the event and thus feel at their physical best when it begins.
Those who are naturally "morning people" often feel the best when they hit the gym first thing in the morning. Likewise the "evening people" get the most out of their PM workouts. They both tend to stick with a schedule which appeals to their natural instincts.
When work or family schedules change because of outside influences, we are able to change our workout schedule as well. It takes about a month to adjust mentally and physically to a new schedule, but we can reset our personal clock and be back on track in a short time.
What Does Research Indicate?
Morning exercisers are more consistent and more likely to stick to their workout schedule.
Studies have shown that regardless of when you workout, you will sleep better. In one study it showed that a heavy workout a half hour before bedtime did nothing to interrupt sleep.
However, these studies did show that the late afternoon is the best time to exercise from a physiological standpoint. When our body temperature is the highest is when we are the strongest and have the greatest endurance. Between four and five in the afternoon is when body temperature peaks for most people.
We are also less prone to injuries during afternoon exercise. With our highest body temperature of the day, the muscles are warmed and more relaxed than at any other time. With our muscles at their strongest, we are much less likely to suffer an athletic injury.
In summary, while personal preference will dictate when you set your workout time, when you do establish a schedule stick with it.
If you are training for athletic competition you should train at the same time as when the event is scheduled in order to be at your very best, physically and mentally.
The afternoon is the best time to train for most people, as this is when our body potential is the greatest.
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