21 Feb 2019

Is Cardio More Effective Day or Night?

Fitness and workout advice

You've probably wondered at some point if it's better to do your cardio in the morning or evening and you certainly wouldn't be the first person to ask this question.

A quick search will return many articles with differing opinions on when the best time to work out is but as a general rule, it's all down to personal preference.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each:

Morning cardio pros

A lot of people prefer to exercise in the morning. The good news is, if you're a person who can't stomach a meal before a workout, this is the perfect time to get in a fasted session. It's widely known that doing a morning workout on an empty stomach will burn fat for fuel, as your glycogen stores will be depleted after a night of fasting.

There's also evidence that fasted high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be best for those looking to shed body fat. HIIT training is also an excellent way to really get your heart rate cranking and is a good option for those of us who find it hard to maintain a steady pace without dying. Other good reasons to work out in the morning are:

  • You can get your morning cardio in early while it's not too hot;

  • It will wake you up and prepare you for the day;

  • It's good to get it done and out of the way before the day gets the better of you.

Morning cardio cons

Your body temperature is at its lowest in the morning. Therefore your muscles will be cold and less flexible for a while after getting up. This combined with naturally lower energy levels soon after rising means your risk of injury is higher. You will need to spend a good amount of time stretching before you start if you plan on working out in the morning. If you're not a morning person, you may find it hard to stick to a morning routine as well.

Evening cardio pros

Because your performance and endurance improve during the day, a workout in the evening means you can exercise for longer. You're also better fuelled, and your muscles are already warm which means less time wasted stretching, greater flexibility and quicker reaction time!

Evening cardio cons

Even the most prepared person can have things go wrong and your day may just get away from you, and you end up missing your workout. It could be anything from getting held up at work to feeling obligated to go to birthday drinks for a colleague. If this happens a few times a week, it could really be stalling your progress.

As you can see, cardio done at any time of the day is better than no cardio at all. We all know the long-term benefits of regular exercise and cardio is our calorie-burning friend. If you’re new to training and aren’t sure which option is best for you, try both and see which time you respond best too!

If you're interested in reading about some studies done in this area, the team at Grounded Strength have a good blog with further information.

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