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Circadian Rhythm & Testosterone: Best Time to Workout

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Sometimes when you’re in the gym, everything just feels right. The weight feels lighter, you look great in the mirror, and the form on every rep is perfect. Then the next day you can walk in and have the exact opposite experience – so what changes? And how can we get more of the good ones and less of the bad ones?

It’s all about finding the best time to workout.

Your testosterone levels dip throughout the day, and this can have a ripple effect on your progress depending on what time you train. This is all down to your body’s 24-hour ‘circadian’ rhythm of testosterone, tapping into it properly could help you achieve that ‘beast’ of a body- that you deserve. Testosterone follows this daily pattern in your body:

  1. Highest between 05:30 – 08:00 hours – best time for gaining size and producing big lifts
  2. Lowest between 18:30 – 22:00 hours  – Training at this time could lead to a poor session

When do you perform best at the gym?

Your body is a highly complicated machine that reacts to the ‘night and day’ light cycle. During caveman times our body systems evolved internally (body clock), to the rhythm of ‘daylight’ to perform tasks such as ‘hunting and gathering’. This reaction to light regulates our bodily systems; and can be an advantage, or disadvantage depending what time you train.

The biggest difference to your 24 hour rhythm is what time you wake up (Larks versus Owls):

Larks: Do you go to sleep earlier? Do you wake up full of enthusiasm and energy? If you answered ‘yes’ to both of these questions then you maybe classed as a ‘lark’!

Owls: Do you go to bed late? Tend to wake up later and takes a couple of hours to function properly? If so you could be a classic owl!

Does all of this ‘lark’ versus ‘owl’ hype really matter to me? In terms of your training times at the gym, if you are an owl you tend to perform better late in the afternoon (1). On the other hand, larks tend to perform better in the morning (1).

Identifying whether you’re a lark or an owl, could be quick answer for getting better results.

Facts about your body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm:

Morning

  • Your Mental alertness is higher – this could increase your motivation levels and mentally prepared you for a hard training session

Afternoon

  • Pain tolerance is at its highest – pushing through your physical limits is an excellent training strategy for lifting more
  • A dip in energy levels – hitting the wall post-lunch time is common place. You need to battle harder to increase your energy levels, to get you through your training session.

Early Evening (Late Afternoon)

  • Strength, power and flexibility peaks – this occurs during early evening and tends to dip after 6 pm (2).
  • Lung capacity and stamina peaks  this is excellent news especially if you are performing HIIT with your resistance training.

Night

  • Body starts to slow down – your brain produces a sleeping hormone (melatonin) at around 9 pm. This prepares your body so that you are ready to hit the sack!

Interestingly, many of your body’s systems peak and dip at different times within the day. Granted that everyone is different but from the 24 hour rhythms within your body, a suggestion could training early in the morning or late afternoon.circadian rhythm

What is the best time to workout?

  1. Morning – Sharper Focus

Training in the morning will increase your muscle mass because of the associated peak in your testosterone levels. Testosterone increases protein synthesis which is vital for muscle growth, development and repair. Having a superior mental focus will increase the connection from mind to your muscles, this helping you workout at a higher intensity.

Other considerations:

  • Fat burning is increased by higher levels of testosterone
  • There is a lift in mood caused by higher levels of the happy hormone (serotonin)
  • Gyms are generally quieter in the morning and you won’t be fighting over the squat rack. 

2. Afternoon – Highest Pain Threshold

If you’re currently in a plateau, training in the afternoon might be just what you need. Remember that during this period your pain threshold is at its highest, so high intensity training and heavy lifting are perfect at this time. This is your perfect opportunity to push your body harder and really chase those results.

3. Early Evening – Strongest Lifts

By training in the early evening your strength will be at its peak. By adding strength to your big lifts will again blasts some hard core muscle mass to your physique.

Other considerations:

  • If you work out too late, you will not be training at your full potential due to your body’s systems being out of sync
  • Gyms tend to be busier in the evenings- fighting and waiting for equipment does effect the quality of your workouts!

You need to find that balance with your work life and training schedule. When we take into consideration all of the 24 hour bodily rhythms, it is not surprising that all of the strength world records are made in the early evening (3).

Lift in the morning and boost your testosterone in the afternoon

According to the research, a simple method of boosting your testosterone levels is to train with high intensity in the morning (4). Specifically if you perform an intense burst of sprinting or resistance, you will begin to see the follow benefits:

  • Your body will be primed for lifting in the afternoon
  • Your growth is increased due to a higher levels of free testosterone levels.

Circadian Rhythm of Testosterone Conclusion

For the best time to workout: Your testosterone levels are highest in the morning, strength and power tends to peak in the early evening. By working out whether you are a ‘lark’ or an ‘owl’ can be beneficial to your muscle gains.

Being in touch with testosterone’s circadian rhythm is important, and a great way to get more out of your workouts. Establish the right timing of your work out, be consistent with your training and you will start to see that beast of a body!

Boosting your testosterone levels with ‘TestoFuel’

To keep your testosterone levels high through out the day, try the best testosterone boosting supplement on the market ‘Testo-fuel. Have a read of the ingredients by clicking here:

Research

  1. Putilov, A., Donskaya, O., & Verevkin, E. (2015). How many diurnal types are there? A search for two further “bird species” Personality and Individual Differences, 72, 12-17
  2. Malhotra, D., Narula, R., Zutshi, K., Kapoor, G., & Aslam, B. (2014). Effect of Time of Day and Concentric or Eccentric Strength Training on Muscle Strength. Indian Journal of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, 8(1), 134.
  3. Laczo et. al (2010) Time specific strength training induced hypertrophy and muscle strength increase of young untrained men. . 7th International Conference on Strength Training, .
  4. Cook C.J, Kilduff L.P, Crewther B.T, Beaven M. (2014). Morning based strength training improves afternoon physical performance in rugby union players. J Sci Med Sport. May;17(3):317-21.

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