Every exercise program should include strength, aerobic and flexibility training. Splitting your workouts into segments can help you fit all these elements in amongst work, family and social commitments. Running in the morning and lifting in the evening helps you get all your workouts in while also taking advantage of your body’s natural biorhythms.
A stiffer body and lower body temperature means you may not be as efficient in the morning for your run, but that doesn’t mean you should put it off until later. You may feel like you are working harder, but if you train for races, most of them start in the early dawn hours so you are mimicking race conditions. If your goal is weight loss, a morning run can set a healthy tone for the day, helping you to stick to your eating plan. It also gives your metabolism a rev. Morning exercisers are more likely to stick to a consistent exercise plan, notes Forbes.com.
Late afternoon and evening are prime times for lifting weights. A higher body temperature means your connective tissues and muscles are raring to go and less vulnerable to injury. You have a day’s worth of healthy eating to fuel your evening efforts, so you can hit the weights hard and build muscle mass. The concentration of certain hormones that contribute to muscle building may be higher in the evening as well, suggests a study in the June 2010 issue of “Chronobiology International.”
Although running before you eat anything can cause you to burn slightly more fat during the workout, you may not have the energy to go for long, so have a small pre-workout snack consisting of 100 to 200 calories. A banana, half of an energy bar or a yogurt are all good options. Give yourself a longer warmup for the morning run than you would for one later in the day to help your body temperature and systems catch up, recommends Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. Don’t skip a warmup before your evening lift, but it can be shorter – about five to 10 minutes – than it would be in the early morning hours. If your lift comes hours after your last meal, you should also indulge in a light snack such as whey protein mixed with water or milk, peanut butter on a slice of toast or a banana and a handful of sunflower seeds.
No need to fret if you need to lift on some mornings and run some evenings. A study in the December 2009 “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” found that strength training in the morning or evening can both yield significant muscle growth over three months. Running in the evenings may feel easier – although it may be mentally hard to pry yourself off the couch. Ultimately, any time you work out is beneficial to your body. If you fit in the workout, you are ahead of the 60 percent of Americans who don’t exercise enough as reported by CNN in 2004. Include stretching after each workout -- just 15 to 30 seconds for every major muscle group at a mild intensity is sufficient.
- Forbes.com: Best Time to Hit the Gym
- CNN: Experts Disagree on Ideal Time to Exercise
- Running Times: Morning, Noon or Night
- Chronobiology International: Effect of Time-of-Day-Specific Strength Training on Serum Hormone Concentrations and Isometric Strength in Men
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Effect of Time-of-Day-Specific Strength Training on Muscular Hypertrophy in Men
- American Council on Exercise: Three Things Every Exercise Program Should Have
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