Best Time of Day for Bodybuilding

Last Updated on May 24, 2020 by Sam Corbin

best time of day for bodybuilders to workout

Bodybuilders spend years working on their bodies.

It takes time, effort, and passion to make sure the body looks perfect before a competition. However, finding the right time to workout is challenging in some cases.

Bodybuilders often ask when the best time of day is for working out. Is it early in the morning? Is it later in the night? Which time slot is ideal for muscular development, faster recovery, and improved health?

Let’s take a look.

Circadian Rhythm

a man lifts weights in the morning

It starts with the circadian rhythm, which refers to a natural 24-hour cycle for your body’s physiological processes.

This cycle doesn’t follow a traditional 24-hour clock and instead relies on the body’s sleep patterns. It’s responsible for controlling your hormones, muscular development, and metabolic rate. In fact, it also has a role to play in your sleep habits.

Each person can tweak their circadian cycle based on specific changes such as dietary intake, access to light (sun, moon), exercise, and more.

Having a better understanding of this system can make it easier to recognize the best time slot for working out. This system is designed to regulate hormonal production and the nervous system making it an integral part of the body. Until you pour through this information, it’s a lot harder to come up with a meaningful schedule.

Over the course of a week, people notice a change in their cycle.

a man benchpresses

This can happen for a number of reasons including how the hormones respond throughout the day.

For example, if a person puts in time at the gym, this is going to increase their testosterone levels, especially if they’re using a natural test boosting supplement which has an impact on the circadian rhythm.

Since testosterone is designed to help with muscle-building, it’s important to understand when it peaks during the 24-hour cycle. In the average person, this can be earlier in the morning.

However, this is not a steadfast rule at all!

All it takes is a few changes over the course of a week (i.e. sleeping later, eating junk food, not exercising) for this rhythm to change. The same applies to testosterone levels as they can increase or deplete at various points of the week.

a bodybuilder does a kettlebell workout

Bodybuilders may use growth hormones it impacts the body and adjust accordingly.

In some cases, growth hormones make it easier to work out in the evening rather than early in the morning.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, cortisol is bad for the body and can ruin your rhythm. This particular hormone tends to peak in the morning, which makes it important to know your levels.

Professional bodybuilders are encouraged to track these metrics (testosterone and/or cortisol levels) to see how the body is doing. This information can help plan out the best time of day to workout.

Real-World Results

a guy does a squat workout

When it comes to real-world results, a lot of people don’t realize how schedules are made.

Think about all of the bodybuilding events that take place around the world.

Most of the professionals work out in the earlier hours and then perform in the evening. This has to do with what they perceive to be “ideal” timing. The same applies to most other situations as each setup is different.

The reason this is valid has to do with how these athletes develop over time. They build a schedule and learn to follow it from a young age. It becomes second-nature to them and it lines up with their circadian rhythm. This is when the body is able to do a lot more and make sure it generates natural testosterone.

These real-world results aren’t exclusive to one sport and have been around for a long time. It’s important to keep tabs on them as a bodybuilder.

Personal Timing

a woman bench presses with a coach

Remember, it’s all about personal timing when it comes to working out.

Research done on the subject has revealed there’s a distinct correlation between working out at certain times and muscular development.

Depending on the person’s needs, they can grow a lot more with afternoon workouts in comparison to morning workouts. In fact, studies show this can be a 2-3% difference over the course of 3 months.

Of course, these studies didn’t take the time to ask all bodybuilders, which leaves it needing more information to justify.

It’s also important to note how the individuals were tested and what their rhythm was like. There are many situations where a bodybuilder’s circadian rhythm doesn’t match up with what’s told by experts.

Lifestyle and Preference

an extremely strong man does bicep curls

Before anything else, it’s important to understand the value of your lifestyle.

It doesn’t matter what diet or training program is used until you prefer it. This is the same with your workout schedule.

If the mind doesn’t believe something is optimal, the body is going to shut down as well. For example, if someone suggests working out early in the morning is smart, this may not work for your needs, especially if you’re not a morning person.

The best thing a person can do is to find a time slot built for their needs. Even in those studies done on this subject, the increase was a mere 2-3% over 3 months.

This isn’t worth the hassle, especially if it leads to a lack of passion. Bodybuilders need to be “all-in” when it comes to the task at hand!

The more important details would be the type of workout being done, number of sets, and intensity. These variables have a far greater role to play in your well-being and results than timing. Keep this in mind and build a schedule that’s going to work for your body. Until this happens, it’s a lot harder to see results.

Final Thoughts

The “best” time of day to train is a personal decision based on different variables (i.e. schedule, dietary habits, recovery periods). Setting a universal time for the body can lead to ineffective workouts.

Find a time slot that’s best for your needs whether it’s early in the morning or later in the night.

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