Ah, the age-old question- is working out in the AM or PM better? Everyone seems to have their personal opinions on the topic- I mean I sure did! I’ve always been a huge advocate for workouts in the evening. If someone even suggested working out in the morning to me I had my long list of excuses at the ready- I like to sleep way too much, I feel weak in the mornings, I’m young and hang out with all my friends too late at night so working out in the AM just isn’t practical…and, so on.
However, when I got home from work in the evenings, I would struggle to amp myself up to go to the gym, or I’d tell myself I would workout at home and wouldn’t, or plans would just come up midday for later that evening- my workouts were constantly getting pushed aside. I was just a woman full of excuses, and no conviction.
So, since I was being stubborn, and lazy; naturally I had no option left but to challenge myself to a 30-Day Early AM Exercise Challenge. The results of which I’ll reveal at the end of this article. But before I get into my own experience, check out some of the facts below that may help you make the best decision for you: AM or PM?
There is No ‘Better’ Time to Workout
When it comes to the time of day that’s best to exercise, there are no physiological differences that are more pressing than simply finding a time to work out that aligns with your long-time fitness goals, and is something you can consistently commit to. For the average population, it’s less so about the magic of a certain time of day that makes exercise successful, and more about the fact of what is practical, and sustainable in your schedule. If you can be consistent, then that’s where you will find success!
So, what are the perks of each? Check out some of the pro’s of working out in the morning as well as the evening below.
Pros to Working Out in the AM
Energized for the Day
Exercise is a great way to start your day. When you workout, your body releases natural chemicals called endorphins which decrease your perception of pain, as well as release positive feelings to carry you through your morning with a good attitude.
Motivates You to Be Healthier
Exercising in the morning predisposes your brain to make healthier choices throughout the course of your day- it puts your wellbeing foremost on your mental. The results of an interesting study by BYU, even revealed that 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise in the morning actually reduced a persons motivation for food throughout the day.
Most people don’t make plans with friends or family or find themselves overwhelmingly busy in the early morning as they often do in the evenings. For some, it can be more practical to carve time out in the morning, rather than consistently turn down plans that come up later in the day.
Have you ever noticed the gym is crazy busy after work and school when everyone finally makes it to the gym? Well, it’s definitely not as busy in the morning! Spend less time waiting for the machines you want to use, for a more efficient workout!
Fasted exercise is a popular method for many people who are trying to lose weight. It’s easier to do fasted exercise in the morning because rather than fasting midday prior to your workout, you can fast as you sleep, and head straight into exercise. If this is important to your goals consider exercising in the AM. (If you want to hear more on fasted exercise check out: this blog).
Pros to Working Out in the PM
If you love your sleep or are just not a morning person than sleeping in can be a huge benefit of saving your workout for later in the day!
Fueled For Your Workout
Fueling for your workout all day long, will give you a boost of energy and improve your performance especially during really intense workouts, like sprinting, vigorous cardio, or heavy weight lifting where every ounce of energy put towards gaining strength and fitness is a priority.
After a long day at work or school, it can feel great to blow off some steam at the gym. Feeling negative, down, frustrated, or stressed- well take all of that negative energy and pour it into a killer workout. You’ll head home after your workout feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and a little better about whatever situation you’re in.
Body is Awake
Does anyone else have a hard time getting their body to wake up for their workout in the morning? When doing a hard run or weightlifting in the morning, I feel like my body isn’t totally there yet, and it’s hard for me to give 100%. If you’ve felt the same, you may enjoy more energy, as well as an alert and awake body that is ready for your torture of choice in the evenings.
So, what’s my opinion on all of this? Before my 30-day challenge, I was a die-hard PM exerciser. After my 30-day challenge- it’s all about the AM workouts for me.
What I Liked
I was so much more consistent working out in the mornings than I was during my night workouts. And for me, that was a complete game-changer.
I also found that I was healthier throughout the day after working out. I was constantly thinking about how I could make healthier choices on food, and what my ‘fuel’ should be rather than whatever I used to eat purely out of convenience, or craving. And in fact, it wasn’t a pain to me to eat said healthy things, I legitimately wanted them so much more. (This is probably a side effect that comes with consistent exercise whether done in the AM or PM, but I highly enjoyed starting my days on that note.)
I even often found myself wanting to go to the gym in the evening for a little more!
Finally, I forgot how much I love mornings. Mornings are beautiful, the way the light shines off everything, and everything just seems to be humming, and cheery, and sparkly. And I was pleasantly surprised that this experience reminded me of my love of that.
What I Didn’t Like
First of all, dragging myself out of bed. Waking up earlier was hard at first, laying in bed I always felt like a train wreck, but I almost always found if I forced myself to get up out of bed and splash my face with water I felt a lot better about being awake.
I also did feel slightly lackluster in the mornings, but not enough to affect my workouts. Assuming this is because I did less intense, performance-based exercise and more of the fun, bodyweight, ‘moderate’ exercise like walking, circuits, and HIIT. I also never was exercising for very long in the morning- capping my total workout time at 30-45 minutes.
Personally, if I wanted to workout longer, or do more challenging workouts like vigorous cardio, or heavy weightlifting than I would prefer to complete that in the afternoon or evening when I am completely fueled, awake and ready to give 100%.
(Also, side note- yes I did miss 2 days of the 30-days (oops), which I did complete at the end to finish off the challenge. It turned out I had a lot of traveling come up which involved leaving in the wee hours of the morning. I figured it was better for my health to keep to my sleep schedule and worked out later in the afternoon when we arrived at our location instead. What are you gonna do?!🤷♀️)
Bottomline, I love working out in the morning. I’m more consistent, healthier, and better off for it. I feel less guilty because I actually get my workouts in, and I just all around feel better about myself.
So, early morning workouts, you win, I’ve officially been converted!
I’ve actually challenged myself once again, to wake up in the mornings and workout 6 days a week now through the end of August. So, if you want to join me please do. If not, you do you.
I just want to encourage you guys….find what works best for you and run with it. I want you guys to feel as committed, and excited, and successful as I do right now. Everyone deserves to feel this healthy and awesome. So whether it’s morning or night, pick your poison and get after it!