The question of when to work out has long plagued fitness buffs, and the answer depends on personal preference, work and family schedule and circadian rhythm, among other factors. The best time to workout is the one that keeps you going back for more. Resistance-training exercises such as lifting weights build muscle, strengthen bones and help fight chronic diseases -- no matter when you work out.
Preferred Exercise Time
The ideal time to lift weights depends more on your preferences than any research. If you love your morning schedule, stick with it. That said, your body is at peak performance when it's warm -- and you're much colder when you wake up than you are at night. Your muscles are warmest in the late afternoon, so that might be the best time to lift. You may be able to take on more weight and perform more repetitions in the pre-evening hours.
If you're a night owl, by all means pump those weights after dark -- as long as it doesn't interfere with your sleep schedule. Overall, exercise helps improve sleep quality. However, getting your heart rate up just before bedtime could leave you counting sheep. If insomnia follows your evening workout, schedule your lifting session at least two to three hours before hitting the lights. You need your beauty rest for cell repair and growth, proper protein synthesis and mental clarity.
Whichever time you pick, keep it consistent. Once you train your body to exercise at a certain time, that's when you'll always get your best performance. If you always lift weights at midnight and then switch to afternoon one day, your performance might suffer despite the fact that afternoons are biologically ideal for workouts. That's because your body adapts based on your training habits. If you have an event or competition, try to train at the time the event will occur for maximum performance on the big day.
Day or night, fit weight training into your schedule at least two times a week to reap the health rewards, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Work every muscle group in your body, including the back, chest, stomach, hips, arms and legs. Weight training does not provide the same health perks as aerobic activity, however, so also fit moderate cardiovascular exercise into your schedule at least 150 minutes per week, or at least 75 minutes a week if you opt for vigorous cardio.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.