Right Time to Exercise - Training will give Twice the Result with Half the Effort
Many young people have “health anxiety” today, but only a minority exercise regularly. Even if fitness according to plan can offset many health risks, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine in September 2020. The latest global guidelines published in the publication pointed out that a certain amount of fitness exercise every week can offset the health risks of sedentary sitting.
Right Time to Exercise
For adults, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic training, or 75 minutes of High-Intensity Dynamic Training, or the equivalent combination of the two; and two days or more of resistance training, can reduce sedentary All-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, mental health disorders (anxiety and depressive symptoms), and obesity caused by the habit.
Of course, not to mention fitness enthusiasts with higher physical improvement requirements, a good fitness plan can bring them a higher input-output ratio. If you find the right time to exercise, the training will give twice the result with half the effort.
When does running burn more fat? Is the effect of lifting iron in the morning or the evening for muscle building the same? When is the best time to practice HIIT? It is essential to consider all these points when performing a fitness plan. And when you know how to use fitness time to learn, the efficiency of all kinds of fitness exercises can be twice the result with half the effort. Although the choice of fitness time seems to be just a way of life, it actually has different effects on physiological metabolism and biological clock.
Regarding the design of a fitness program suitable for most people, the study of fitness time can bring reference answers. According to the WHO’s exercise recommendations combined with the study of fitness time, we first compiled a fitness time plan for early and late exercise enthusiasts, respectively:
What is fitness time study?
Chrono-exercise (Chrono-exercise), which can also be called fitness chronology, is to study the impact of fitness on the maintenance of health, sports performance, and the rhythm of the biological clock at different times of the day. Because in the process of evolution, the most significant environmental factor affecting human behavior is the day and night changes brought about by the rotation of the earth.
Our ancestors were active during the day (waking up) and resting during the night (sleeping), causing our physiological metabolism and behavior to be similar to the earth’s rotation, close to an endogenous rhythm of the 24-hour cycle-the biological clock.
The biological clock is not a real clock but a molecular mechanism within the cell that affects various tissues and organs of the human body. The secretion of stress hormones cortisol, insulin, growth hormone and melatonin all have obvious circadian patterns. At the same time, our body temperature, basal metabolic rate, and nerve “alertness” will follow the circadian rhythm and change within 24 hours.
Due to the role of the biological clock, whether it is dietary nutrition or exercise, there is a relatively more suitable time period. It should be noted that the so-called “more suitable time” is based on the premise that there is a basic biological clock that is not disordered.
Golden training time for various fitness methods
The biological clock rhythm has a significant impact on the improvement of aerobic exercise performance. For morning or evening exercises aimed at improving endurance thresholds, the adaptability of exercise performance depends on the time period of the training itself.
Just as we will have hunger and appetite at the time when we habitually eat and feel sleepy at the time when we habitually fall asleep, our body will adapt to our living habits and make physiological and metabolic adjustments. Aerobic training is the same. By insisting on exercising at the same time period, the body can “learn” to arrange various physiological functions to cooperate in the same time period to produce the best results.
For example, in aerobic training with the goal of raising the anaerobic threshold, the morning exercise group (8 am) and the afternoon group (4 pm) will carry out anaerobic threshold tests in the morning and afternoon respectively after continuous training for six weeks in their respective time periods. The results showed that the test value of the morning exercise group in the morning was higher than that in the afternoon, while the anaerobic threshold of the afternoon group was significantly higher in the afternoon than in the morning. There is no difference between morning and afternoon in the untrained group.
Similarly, in endurance training aimed at improving VO2max, the trainees continue training for four weeks and then take the VO2max test in the afternoon. The results showed that only those trainees whose training time was also scheduled in the afternoon showed an increase in VO2max. From the perspective of fat oxidation efficiency, running in the afternoon and evening consumes more oxygen than running in the morning, and fat oxidation is also higher than that in the morning, which may be due to the increase in free fatty acid levels. But this is the case of running after a meal. If you run on an empty stomach in the morning, fat oxidation efficiency can also be improved.
Improve the efficiency of aerobic training:
- Once you choose a time period, insist on exercising in the same time period. This is your “prime time.”
- If you insist on training at the same time for 4 to 6 weeks, your endurance can be improved significantly during this time. This rule is especially applicable to preparation training. For example, if you want to participate in a marathon that is usually held in the morning, but you have been training through night running, then for you, the morning race violates the adaptability of the biological clock and cannot run the best results.
- Running training with the goal of burning fat is best in the afternoon or evening. If you choose to run in the morning, it is best to run on an empty stomach.
For high-intensity training, such as the Wingate test, as well as HIIT, SIT, and other training, the body’s tolerance to intensity also has a time rhythm. An indoor cycling study showed that when you persist to exhaustion at 95% of maximum power, training at 6 o’clock in the afternoon can last longer than training at 6 o’clock in the morning. Overall, the high-intensity training in the afternoon performed better than in the morning. Usually, the peak of training performance occurs between 4 and 8 pm in the afternoon, and the lowest value is almost always between 6 and 10 am in the morning.
High output power is a measure of high-intensity training performance. When the temperature is between 30°C and 39°C, the power output will decrease by 5% for every 1 °C drop in muscle temperature. The human body temperature difference can reach about 1 °C in the morning and evening, and it usually peaks in the afternoon. This may be one of the reasons for the improvement in training performance in the afternoon. As the “basic variable” of the circadian rhythm, body temperature not only affects the activity of muscles but also drives many other rhythms of the body. For example, an increase in core temperature will increase the “passive warm-up effect,” thereby enhancing metabolic response, improving the ductility of connective tissue, reducing muscle viscosity, increasing the conduction speed of action potentials, and affecting sports performance in many ways.
In addition to the diurnal difference in core temperature, neuron-muscle connections also have diurnal differences. Surface electromyography (EMG) data, which measures muscle contraction, shows that the muscles contract more spontaneously in the afternoon, and the maximum contraction tension is higher. The stiffness of the ligaments in the morning is also 20% higher than that in the afternoon, resulting in a difference in power output efficiency.
Moreover, people tend to be more willing to train more intensely in the afternoon. Some people develop a sense of resistance to exhausted body conditions in the morning. In this case, training performance can only depend on the degree of their willingness to work hard. In other words, people who perform high-intensity training in the morning need a stronger “mental willpower” to get similar effects to the afternoon training.
Improve the efficiency of high-intensity training:
- 4-8 pm in the afternoon is the “high-performance prime time” for high-intensity training. This time period is the most suitable for the body’s internal biological clock rhythm changes.
- In other periods of time, as long as your willpower is strong enough, you can still exert your best ability and reap the effects of training.
Like aerobic training, the duration of strength training (resistance training) also affects muscle performance. After six weeks of muscle strength and explosive training, 1-Rep Max in the morning exercise group (7 am) had better results in the morning test, while the late exercise group (5 pm) had better results in the evening test. In addition, studies have shown that after 24 weeks of hypertrophy training, the cross-sectional muscle area of the late exercise group is larger than that of the early exercise group, indicating that evening training may be the best time to promote muscle hypertrophy. But its mechanism is currently unclear.
However, it is worth noting that the muscle contraction ability itself has circadian rhythm changes, and the contraction force is usually stronger in the afternoon. However, after ten weeks of training, the muscle strength of the early training group not only improved in the morning but also remained at the same level throughout the day. The late training group is obviously still affected by the rhythm of the biological clock and only performs better at night.
Improve the efficiency of strength training:
- At night (usually after 6 pm) is the “high-performance prime time” for hypertrophy training.
- If you insist on training for more than six weeks at the same time period, your muscle strength and explosive power can be greatly improved during this time period.
- Insisting on early training can eliminate the day and night difference in muscle contraction ability and is more conducive to preventing muscle loss.
Tracking your body composition
Can Young People Who Don't Have Time Work Out Late at Night?
More and more people are being pressured by infinite time, and many people are forced to become Midnight Gym-Goers. Vigorous exercise 2 hours before going to bed will affect body temperature regulation and thus affect the quality of sleep, resulting in insufficient muscle repair and missed secretion of growth hormone. This may be the biggest concern of the night training school.
Unfortunately, this effect cannot be eliminated, and the effect of late-night fitness will indeed be compromised. But the good news is that even if late-night fitness cannot give you 100% results, it is still a very important “life-saving” health habit.
An 11-year follow-up study of 380,000 people in the United Kingdom showed that people with poor sleep have a higher risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease, and stroke. However, if the level of physical activity can be maintained at or above the recommended level of the WHO guidelines – 150 minutes of low-to-medium intensity training per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity training per week-it can offset the health risks caused by poor sleep.
If your daily schedule makes late-night fitness your only option, consider the following suggestions:
- Choose medium and low-intensity aerobic or resistance training late at night, and high-intensity training can be placed in the weekend afternoon.
- Daily supplements with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods such as Omega 3 vegetables and fruits, and ensure adequate daily intake of protein.
- Adding fitness equipment at home, such as household barbell sets, exercise pedals, elastic bands, etc., can make full use of fragmented time.
The study of fitness time provides a basis for an efficient fitness plan, allowing us to exert the maximum effect every minute and every second we invest in fitness.