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AM vs PM Training

AM vs PM Training

Do you ever find yourself wondering if the time of day you train is important?
 
Perhaps you know a guy whose full throttle at 7 am, getting strength PB’s before your day has even started.
 
But for others, they may find that surge of beast mode comes later in the day, with the morning being a consistent Grogg-Fest.
 
Should you be powering through to train at a different time for maximum gains? What does the scientific literature tell us?
 
Today, we’re going to look at AM vs PM training and how to figure out what's right for you.
 
Our daily rhythms are largely considered to be individually variable, with cognitive and physiological energy peaks occurring at different times throughout the day.
 
Are you a morning person? Or more of a night owl? It’s likely you can answer this question for yourself quickly.
 
While these are preferences, they don’t definite you entirely and can be trained through habit. More on that later.
 
One study found that regardless of preference (morning or night), athletic performance was the same between sessions, the reps and velocity were the same. What differed was the recorded motivation of the trainee and the perceived difficulty of the workout(1).
 
That's to say, the workout felt easier and the subjects' motivation to train was higher in their preferred time slot. This suggests why people feel stronger at their preferred time of day, and weaker otherwise.
 
Another study found that regular training at a specific time of day caused greater adaptations to occur from training at that time of day.  In other words, if you train in the mornings consistently, you will get better at training in the mornings. The same can be said for training at other times of the day(2).
 
This is great news for anyone that can only train at specific times of the day.
 
In a more practical sense, training in the morning offers some key benefits. You will no doubt have to get up earlier, which requires discipline for most people. Your training will also be done immediately, and not become a task that looms over you, later on, becoming the victim of a change of plan.
 
Training in the evening allows you to prioritise extra sleep in the morning, which is exceptionally important for cognitive and physical performance, among other things. You may also find evening sessions easier to stick to and find them more enjoyable if that’s your preference. Many people also find they have more time to dedicate to their sessions when done in the evening, I know that’s true for me.
 
But what’s best?
 
When you train is ultimately down to personal preference, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The key takeaways from the science are, you get better at training at the time you train often. You will also find it easier to motivate yourself and train at a time that you prefer to train(1,2).
 
We know at Physique Academy that consistency is king, and long-term adherence to a fitness lifestyle is what will enable you to achieve lasting results. Pick a time that you like and stick to it as much as you can for the best results.
 
References
Blazer, H., Jordan, C., Pederson, J., Rogers, R., Williams, T., Marshall, M. and Ballmann, C., 2020. Effects of Time-of-Day Training Preference on Resistance-Exercise Performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 92(3), pp.492-499.
Chtourou, H. and Souissi, N., 2012. The Effect of Training at a Specific Time of Day. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(7), pp.1984-2005.

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