In recent weeks, I’ve stressed the importance of making time for exercise despite a busy schedule. For instance, I stated that I’d rather wake up 20 minutes earlier for a brief session on a hectic day instead of doing nothing at all. I also shared a recent example where I performed a 15 minute workout before going to bed at night. Unfortunately, by referencing both early and late night workouts, it appears that I’ve left some readers confused about the best time of the day to exercise. I’ve received several questions about the ideal time. With that in mind, I’ll use this entry to clarify any confusion.
When Is The Best Time To Exercise?
To put it bluntly, I believe the best time to exercise is the time that you actually will. Whether you train in the morning, afternoon, or night isn’t going to make much of a difference. There is no reason to split hairs over fluctuations in body temperature, testosterone, and pain tolerance at different times in the day. No one is weak or overweight because they are exercising at the wrong time. The body can adapt to almost anything, and that includes exercising at various times.
I’m all for science and critical thinking, but certain topics are best left alone. There’s no reason to complicate what time in the day someone chooses to exercise. Using myself as an example, I’ve trained at just about every hour in the day. I’m not the product of a particular time. I’m the product of hard work and hard work doesn’t discriminate between hours.
When pondering the best time to exercise, I like to use a simple analogy. When is the best time of the day to defend yourself and your loved ones? If someone threatened your child, would you not respond because your body temperature wasn’t optimized at that particular hour? Or perhaps you’d tell the attacker to come back in an hour when your testosterone levels have peaked.
Obviously, I’m being sarcastic, but my point shouldn’t be difficult to decipher. Just as we’d defend our family at any time, we also have the ability to exercise at almost any time. It all boils down to choice. We make time for whatever we deem to be important. And what we choose to do depends on what we’ve prioritized in our lives. Some people prioritize exercise while others don’t.
While we all have the potential to exercise at various times, personal preference certainly comes into play. Our individual schedules are relevant as well. For example, if you work 3rd shift, your ideal time is likely different from someone who works 9 to 5. It’s important that you find a time that works for you and your family.
Using myself as an example, I’ve found that early morning workouts work best for me. I get very busy during the day so I prefer to get my primary workout out of the way. Therefore, even on the craziest of days, I can at least take comfort in the fact that I’ve already pushed myself through a quality workout. I don’t need to worry about what time I’ll finish work and whether or not I’ll have time to train.
There Is No Perfect Time
Although it is important to find a time that works for you, it’s also important to realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect time. Just because I train in the morning doesn’t mean I always wake up eager and ready to go. I don’t even consider myself a morning person. I’ve simply become accustomed to exercising in the morning after many years of practice.
My early morning habit began as a young boxer. When I fought competitively, I used to hate the start of training camp. I still remember dreading the alarm clock whenever I’d begin training for another fight. The first few days of early morning workouts always felt like torture. I hated every minute of it. After a week or so though, I’d be outside training in the morning without even thinking about it. Morning sessions would gradually become part of the daily routine. I didn’t think about whether I liked the time or not. It was just something I had to do to get where I wanted to go.
The reason I share the story of myself as a youngster is to remind you that the right time for you might not seem like it at first. It’s not unusual for changes in our daily routine to bring about negative feelings. Those feelings typically subside however when we are doing something to better ourselves. The key is to stick with the work long enough for more positive feelings to kick in.
That’s where grit becomes so important. The right time to exercise isn’t necessarily going to be an easy time. And that’s where many people are misled. The industry wants everyone to think that it’s easy to get in shape. It’s not easy. It takes hard work and sacrifice.
Waking up earlier or going to bed later are the types of sacrifices that dedicated individuals are willing to make. The question therefore isn’t what the best time to exercise is. The real question is whether or not you’re willing to make time.
The time that you consistently make is the time that’s right for you.
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” – John Dryden