When Should I Work Out
As I type this Memorial Day Weekend is just under 6 weeks away. The long holiday weekend is the official start to the summer season. Grills will be rolled out, coolers will be filled, and home improvement projects will kick off. And most important to this conversation, pools will open.
The kick off to a new year means new years resolutions that are usually forgotten by the start of February. High on that list for many people is getting in shape. Well kids, we are now coming up on the slide into summer, another reason to kick start that workout program. You’ve got a month and a half until bikini or thong season, what are you gonna do about it?
This might be a really good time to attempt to answer the question, when should I work out.
Studies & Studies & Opinions
I don’t work out as heavily as I did when I was in my 20’s or my 30’s. Heck, someday’s it’s harder for me that when I was in my early 40’s. I still have a stack of workout books from years ago that I read cover to cover. I stay on top of the fitness industry by reading articles and magazines and talking to similar minded folks. Let’s not forget I was an ACE certified personal trainer for close to 6 years. So I have a solid foundation from which to work.
To refresh my knowledge and make sure I’m still in the loop I did my research before writing this article. Needless to say I was not surprised that the general consensus is still the same. And that consensus is………………………..drum roll please………..
It depends. Shocking I know.
Basically there are a lot of different studies and opinions out there on when you should work out. The problem is there’s a large number of variables so there’s no one size fits all type answer. It’s best to look at your individual situation then decide to answer the question, when should I work out.
What’s Your Situation
My suggestion is to first take stock of what your current health and physical status is as well as what you want to accomplish. If you are wanting to simply drop 30 pounds in 3 months that’s a lot different than adding 10 pounds of muscle in the same time period. Do you want to get stronger or faster? Are you trying to get a stronger core so you can drive the golf ball further? Do you want to run a 5k this year, like really run one the entire way? Are you looking to look the best you’ve ever looked in your swim trunks? If your goal is to get to a point where you aren’t cringing when you think of putting on a swim suit that’s one a lot of people can get behind right about now.
The other half of the equation is of course what’s your starting point. If you are a body builder in the bulk up phase and are ready to lean down that’s one thing. If you’ve never lifted a weight in your life and wheeze when you walk up the stairs that’s quite another. So what’s your current health status and physical condition.
There’s a large variety of cardio exercises to choose from. Some people love running, I’m not one of them. My body simply does not like running. That being said I still believe in having cardio as part of an exercise routine. I typically ride my stationary bike 20-30 minutes a day right after I get up. Gets my day going on the right foot.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults engage in moderate aerobic exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes a pop. This can even include things like brisk walking, shooting hoops, playing tennis, even gardening. So it’s not like you have to run 5 times a week. You can even do it in different chunks, such as 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. With spring peeking it’s head out the evenings become a nice time to go on a brisk walk.
The general consensus is that your metabolism stays at an increased level for several hours after you do aerobic exercise. Doing your cardio in the morning tends to maximize the higher metabolic rate into the day. This in turn helps you burn more calories since it’s post workout and you are out and about doing things during the day. Since your metabolism typically drops more rapidly in the evening doing your cardio at night lessens the fat burning benefits. Try to work your cardio in the morning if you can. If not, doing cardio at any time benefits your body of course. Now take a long look at that pic and what that dude is using for wheels. My new hero.
When the best time is to lift weights is pretty subjective. There’s been some studies that shows that in general testosterone will run higher in the morning so it would seem to make sense to lift then. There’s also some talk that the later afternoon is better for breaking through weight plateau’s.
The best way to answer the question of the best time to lift weights is what’s right for you. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself:
- When do you have access to weights? I have a gym I can use at work so most of my workouts happen there.
- When is your energy the highest? For many people, myself included, energy is harder to come by after getting off work. I work out late morning when possible.
- What’s your schedule? Lot’s of folks do the 9-5 grind but some work nights. Some work weekends. Some work four 12 hour days.
- How accessible is the equipment? If you have weights at home you’ve got a lot more options than if you have to drive 20 minutes to pump iron.
A Few Tips To Remember:
- Eat a heavy snack an hour or so before working out OR a good meal 2 hours before working out.
- Give your body some protein within an hour after working out.
- Try some different times to see when your body responds to working out the best.
- You can lift plenty of weight in 45-60 minutes unless you’re training for Mr. Olympia
- Find the right exercise that work well for your body and goals
As you can easily see there is no single “right time” to workout. There’s so many variables it’s impossible to supply a one size fits all type answer. The main questions you should ask yourself before deciding when you should work out is what are your goals and what’s your starting point. Once you define an beginning point and a desired point you can then begin to map out what exercise you should do more of (cardio or lifting weights) or a combination of both probably. Then you figure out the best times for you.
Cardio should be done in the morning if possible. If not possible simply whenever is best for you. Lifting weights is really up to what works best for your schedule as well as what your body likes and when the weights are available. From there you create your plan for success.
My answer to when should I work out is………………….ANYTIME!
In good health,