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Best time to work out in a day: Mornings, afternoons, or evenings for better productivity and calorie-burning results

Best time to work out in a day: Mornings, afternoons, or evenings for better productivity and calorie-burning results

Peak performance

Text: Janice Sim


If you're a newbie that has just signed up for a swanky package on ClassPass or found a routine at the gym that's right up your alley, the next thing to figure out is when's the best time to get moving. The truth is, there is no definite answer — despite what your trainer might tell you. Because we're all different unicorns in our own way. Some might detest the mornings, while others might thrive before the sun rises. What's most important is finding the right time that works for you, so much so that you wouldn't quit after a few months. And like me, if you're a newly-minted fitness enthusiast constantly pumped with adrenaline, there's only one way to find out. I made sure to work out in various times of the day — replacing my window of breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an intensive session. (Disclaimer: this stems from a personal experience and might or might not ring true for others) Here are my findings:

MORNINGS

We're talking classes that start at 7.15am. An early start that involves deliberate efforts to cut back on a Friday night laced with copious amounts of alcohol. Because in order not to wake up feeling like death is at your doorstep when your 6am alarm goes off, you need an early night in. Sleep no later than 11pm and you might feel like a normal human while getting up from bed even when it's dark out.

Morning workout

What to eat: Honestly, this might offend a few nutritionists and trainers; but in my humble opinion, it's honestly too early to eat anything. Perhaps nothing more than a banana or a protein shake if you feel like you need it. Not even a cup of coffee would be wise at this point, although you might think it would be helpful to perk you up. Let's just say, the workout would be exhilarating enough to do just that.

Pros: There's nothing better than closing your activity ring at the exact time when your usual morning alarm goes off. It's uplifting to know that you have ticked off your daily workout off the to-do-list before indulging in a hearty breakfast. Basically, you've conquered the floor and legwork before the day even began.

Cons: Your typical performance during the session might take a slight dip just because your body's not fully functional yet, but nothing too demoralising. My experience is that the more you attempt morning workouts, the better your stamina gets.

AFTERNOONS

It takes a lot to bid lunchtime goodbye and reach for your gym bag instead. You give up fantasies of delectable food options — whether it be a bowl of beef pho, nasi briyani, or even an ugly-delicious pile of curry rice. In exchange, choose a class that's fun and engaging. Whether it be a spin class or boxing session intertwined with strength sets, do something that you know you will enjoy.

Workout

What to eat: Get yourself a heavy breakfast in on the day itself and you should be good to go.

Pros: Peak performance during a workout. Somehow doing the in-between to challenge your body works — like a charm. There was somehow more energy to exert, as compared to a morning session.

Cons: You give up time idle chitchat about celebrity gossip with your colleagues over a swathe of fries. Instead, you can only make do with a bowl of salad to-go back to the office.

EVENINGS

Work takes a lot out you. So by the time 6pm hits, you're ready for the couch. That's how little that's left of you. But of course, if you are desperate after missing your morning alarm or choosing lunch over sweating it out in your activewear, the gym is where you need to be after a day's work.

What to eat: Something light. It can be a bowl of soup, half a sandwich, or a slab of chicken breast. Just not a full meal.

Workout food

Pros: It's the last task your body needs to do for the day. So you might be able to feel more motivated while doing so. In turn, you also get to sleep in.

Cons: Devastatingly tired and unable to perform like how you did during the morning and afternoon sessions. It's not to discount the effort you have made in the gym, but you'll find yourself struggling more at workouts that you're already used to.

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