Renewed commitment to fitness goals abounds at this time of year--even those of us who are long time workout-aholics are likely to rethink our current schedules or set new objectives.
One of the biggest hurdles in developing a steady workout schedule and sticking to it is time.
It’s at a premium for everyone, and fitting in a workout around the rest of what you have to do in a day can be a challenge. Fitness in its purest form should be a lifestyle, but let’s be honest...it takes equal parts forming your days around your fitness goals and shaping your workout schedule around the rest of your life.
A few tips for determining the best time to workout…
Define your goals. Is your ambition just to be “more fit”? That’s actually the easiest goal there is; something is better than nothing, and if you’re currently not working out at all, or you’re unhappy with the number of gym sessions you get in a week right now, you can only go up. If your target is a little more defined--carve out a six-pack before summer time, or do a figure competition this year--you may need to time workouts according to the availability of a trainer, or your energy level. That said, there are benefits to working out at a specific time.
Morning workouts promote good sleep, and research has indicated a metabolic advantage to morning workouts; your body burns calories all day.
Afternoon workouts have the advantage of occuring when your strength may be at its peak (2-6 p.m.). You’re also not groggy--and you may have more of a chance finding a workout partner if it’s after dawn.
Evening workouts used to get a bad rap about disrupting sleep, but the latest studies seem to show that’s bogus; The National Sleep Foundation suggests that cardio in the a.m. may be better for your sleep schedule, but strength training at any time of day or night will help. Pair your goals to times, and don’t disrupt sleep--you need it.
Figure out your sweet spot.
There’s something to be said for the “Suck it up, Buttercup” school of thought, where you just force yourself to do what needs to be done, but longevity may depend more on sustainability. If you find the time that’s best for you--whether that’s early or late--you’ll be consistent. If you figure out a segment of the day when you’re able to enjoy your workout more, without time pressures or worries about being late, it’ll become something you look forward to, instead of another chore.
Save the Date.
Once you’ve done some work finding a good time slot--schedule it! Write workouts on the calendar in advance, or set events in your phone. You do it for the other important people in your life...do it for yourself, too.
In short, the best answer to “When Should You Workout?” is, whenever you’ll actually do it.
One of the benefits of living in the age of the Internet and the 24 hour gym is that once you find your perfect time slot, there’s very little to keep you from hitting it, daily. If you need a starting point, download a fitness plan to get started, or if you’re looking to take your training to the next level, contact me for personalized coaching that you can do any time, in the comfort of your own home or gym customized to you and your goals.
Timing is a lot, but making the time is everything.