What is the Best Time to Build Muscles?

Many people may be unaware that there is good time to build muscles and a not so good time. So, if you seriously want to build muscles, it behooves you to find out what this best time is.

Comparing Morning and Evening Muscle Growth

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    First, a presentation at the 2010 7th International Conference on Strength Training reported that late afternoon is better than morning for muscle growth. In fact, afternoon strength trainers had about 17.5 percent more increase in their thigh muscles than morning strength trainers who had about 9.25 percent growth in their thigh muscles.
Comparing muscle growth
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    Next, a 2014 study reported that amount of strength development was  affected by whether it was done in the morning or in the evening. In fact, strength gains were 29 percent in the evening versus 23 percent gain in the morning for eccentric exercises. Meanwhile, strength gains were 23 percent in the evening versus 21 percent in the morning for concentric exercises.
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    In the meantime, a 24 weeks long 2016 Küüsmaa et al. study looked at the effectiveness of strength training in the morning between 06:30 to 10:00 AM and in the evening between 16:30 to 20:00 PM. Indeed, they reported strength and endurance improved similarly during both times. However, they reported that after week 13, muscle mass in the evening training group significantly exceeded that of the morning training group.

Factors Influencing Muscle Building

Body Clock

First, according to a recent study out of Northwestern University, muscle tissue runs on the same circadian clock as the rest of the body. By the way, this internal 24-hour timer regulates cell functioning. Consequently, there is an optimal time for muscle cells to use oxygen to create energy and allow for better performance.

Next, this optimum time for exercise is not just determined by your body clock, but also by the type of exercise, your age, health, environmental conditions such as light and heat, and social activities like meals and work patterns.

Cyclical Response to Exercise

Meanwhile, the response to exercise is cyclical during the day with the early afternoon a “down” time for many people.

Body Temperature

Also, sports scientists say that exercise performance is closely related to body or muscle temperature. By the way, this temperature peaks, for most people, in the late afternoon or early evening. Most of all, warmer muscles increase metabolic processes and energy metabolism of the muscles. So, to get the best muscle workout, find your temperature peak using a body thermometer. By the way, you can get the same effect by warming up before doing strength training.

Meanwhile, this rise in muscle temperature is due to your biological clock. In fact, this circadian clock determines your 24-hour rhythm and has a big influence on body functions that fluctuate over the day. For example, these functions include your body temperature, heart rate, and metabolism.

Cortisol and Testosterone Levels

Next, according to research on the hormones cortisol and testosterone in weight trainers, weight training in the evening may be superior for building muscles.

Now, cortisol is a hormone that, among other functions, helps regulate blood sugar by breaking down muscle tissue when necessary. By the way, this is called “catabolism”. On the other hand, testosterone does the opposite: it helps to build muscles by utilizing proteins. And, this is called “anabolism”.

As it turns out, cortisol is usually highest in the early morning and drops all day long until it is lowest just before bed time. Also, testosterone is highest in the morning.

Furthermore, research shows that the ratio of testosterone to cortisol is highest in the evening. And, this is because cortisol, the muscle breaking hormone, dropped more over the day than testosterone did. Consequently, your body is in a more anabolic, muscle-building state in the evening.

Building Muscles Time

Another important consideration, when you are building muscles for competition, is choosing a building muscles time that is the same as in the competition. For example, if your competitive activity takes place in the morning, then you should build muscles in the morning, and at the appropriate intensity, in order to get your body used to that activity at that time of the day.

Building Muscles in the Morning

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    First, your testosterone levels are the highest in the morning.
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    Also, morning is most effective for running, walking and cardio exercise because they run through the blood glucose quickly and start burning fat.
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    Weight training in the morning on an empty stomach is not a good idea because blood glucose levels are low while cortisol levels are high. Consequently, the morning workouts occur in a catabolic environment. Consequently, muscle maintenance or enhancement suffers.
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    On the other hand, eating something like a piece of toast or drinking a shake or smoothie about 30 minutes before training can help power you through the cardio sessions.
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    Also, when you first wake up, your joints and muscles are still tight and stiff. So, an extensive warm-up is needed to get those muscles warmed up.
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    Next, most people lack energy in the morning. In fact, it takes a while to get your metabolism and cardiovascular system to gear up.
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    Finally, if you are not a morning person, working out in the morning is next to impossible.

Building Muscles in the Evening

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    First, early evening gym sessions are popular with weight trainers.
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    Also, in the evening your body is running at full speed.
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    Meanwhile, your muscle temperatures reach their peak, which, in turn, enhances your performance.
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    Also, you can work out harder because you have enough time to recover after your workout is over.
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    Next, working out in the evening is a great way to relieve stress from working all day.
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    On the other hand, some people lack the motivation after a difficult day at work.
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    However, training too late in the evening may not be ideal for nutritional recovery and sleep.
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    Meanwhile, many find doing cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening works well for them.
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    However, intense workouts shortly before bed can make it hard to fall asleep. Indeed, your autonomic nervous system needs time to return to normal before bed. Therefore, late afternoon or early evening is the best time. By the way, you should finish your workout at least one to two hours before bed.
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    Next, working our late afternoon, gives your body time to process the carbs you ate. In addition, the body gets more time to produce glycogen that is needed by your muscles.
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    Finally, the body has built up amino acids from the proteins you ate during the day.  Also, the elevated insulin levels push these amino acids directly into the muscles making for a more anabolic environment.