Best time for workouts
By Thomas DeLauer
Here to answer a common workout question, is HYLETE Community Captain, Thomas DeLauer. Deciding what time to train can have a huge impact. Tune in now, to see which time of day will allow you to get the results you want.
For more fun facts on training and performance, head on over to Thomas' HIIT vs LIIS video.
About Thomas DeLauer
From 280 lbs. to the magazine covers... All by living a lifestyle that is honest and real. Thomas DeLauer brings nutrition expertise along with a unique perspective on health and wellness that is everything HYLETE.
The following is a transcription of the above video:
Are you gonna get better results by working out or training in the morning? Are you gonna get better results if you train in the evening? It's a very common question, and honestly, there's some big differences between the two.
Alright, so I want to talk about a few things in order to make some sense out of this video. Now, I'm gonna have to go off on a few tangents to circle it back to whether you should be working out in the morning or evening. So make sure you stick with me, because at the end I honestly am gonna reference a study that is really, really interesting and puts everything in perspective. But I have to go down a couple rabbit holes. But I promise, it's gonna be fun.
The first one we want to look at is our testosterone levels being elevated in the morning. Now a lot of people will say that working out in the morning is best because your testosterone levels are higher. Well, I don't know if that's necessarily the case, but testosterone levels are definitely higher in the morning. So I do want to describe that for a minute. You see, woman have a pretty obvious hormone cycle. We know that their hormone cycle is every 28 days, it's pretty common knowledge. But no one ever really talks about men's hormone cycle.
You see, men have a hormone cycle as well. We have a hormone cycle that goes about every 24 hours, and it's out testosterone cycle. So, our testosterone levels are usually very high in the morning, and then they slowly decline throughout the course of the day, and they're at their lowest in the evening time. So this would allow us to believe that working out in the morning is going to be better because we're going to coincide our workouts with our testosterone levels. Well, that's not necessarily the case. There's more to it than just that.
But why is our testosterone level higher in the morning? You would think that it has to do with our circadian rhythm. If we're talking about the fact that we sort of hormone cycle every 24 hours, it just makes sense that it's our sleep wake cycle. Well, to be honest, the studies are starting to show that it has more to do with rapid eye movement sleep, with how much good quality REM that you're getting. Whether it's fragmented or not. Let me explain.
So it's been found that REM and REM latency has a very strong correlation with testosterone. Now, REM latency is how long it takes you to get into REM. So the onset of REM sleep. So one study took a look at fragmented sleep, and they found that even if the sleep is fragmented, if you had two groups that had fragmented sleep that were just getting broken sleep that wasn't very good. If one group was able to get into REM for even a short amount of time, and another group wasn't, the group that got into the REM would have higher levels of testosterone. So really do have a strong showing that all we need to do is get into REM sleep for a little bit, and our testosterone will elevate, and they will get to that cycle that we want them to be in.
Now this starts to make some sense of other things, too. Why do we notice that testosterone declines in older men? Well, a lot of it may have to do with the sleep quality, and the fact that they're not getting into REM as much. You see, as we get older, we don't get as good of quality of sleep, it's just natural. Our efficiency of sleep, our efficiency of REM and our REM latency changes. Older men don't get into REM as quickly, and they don't stay in REM as long. So when that is disrupted, of course we're not going to be able to create testosterone. And there's a couple reasons why that happens.
The main thing is, when your brain is at rest and getting into REM, your hypothalamus is usually producing the right kind of hormones to be able to send the signals down to the gonads to be able to produce testosterone. So we create luteinizing hormone when we get into REM sleep Luteinizing hormone is a precursor to testosterone. So if we're in a situation where we're not producing luteinizing hormone, we're not going to be able to signal the production of testosterone.
Now additionally, when you are in REM sleep, your body goes through different testing mechanisms of parts of your body. So it shuttles blood to different areas of your body, and it also means it shuttles blood down to your testes. When blood is getting shuttled down to you testes, those Leydig cells produce more testosterone.
So, again, case in point, if you end up having fragmented sleep and are not getting into REM, or you're just not getting into REM because you're getting older, your testosterone levels will decline. One more study just to back this up and then I promise I'm getting on to what time of day you should be working out.
So the journal JAMA published a study that took a look at sleep deprivations effect on testosterone. So what they did is they took test subjects and they had them sleep at home for eight hours a night for about a week. And then after that week they went into the sleep lab, and they had them sleep for three nights at 10 hours. And then right after that, they had them sleep for eight nights at five hours. So they went from, on average, eight hours and 55 minutes of sleep down to four hours and 48 minutes of sleep.
Well, the results weren't that surprising. After the sleep deprivation, their overall testosterone levels declined 10-15% during the day, with the most noticeable decrease in testosterone later in the day. So therefor, we have proof that when you are sleep deprived, your testosterone temporarily decline.
So, what does this have to do with the actual timing of your workouts? Well the reason that I went on this whole testosterone tangent is because everyone seems to be saying that it's testosterone that makes it why you should work out in the morning. That you're going to get more results or more gains that way. And honestly, I'm someone who works out in the morning, but I don't necessarily buy into the fact that it's because your testosterone levels are high. We have other hormones, and other catecholamines and things that are at play here, that have an even bigger effect. And I'm about to change the way that you look at your workouts.
You see, what you have to understand is what your goal is. Are you trying to get more body composition effects? Or are you trying to get performance effects? I'm gonna reference a study here in just a second, but first let me explain. Are you looking to get a little bit more lean? Are you looking to set a personal record? Or are you looking to just be in the best possible shape, in the shortest amount of time of your workout? Or, are you truly trying to hang out at the gym and get more out of your workout? You really have to ask yourself that.
You see, let me reference this study, and then I'll make it all make sense. So this study was published in the journal PLoS One, and it took a look at nine athletes. These nine athletes were tested doing a 1000 meter cycling event. So they had them do a cycling for 1000 meters where they really pushed it. And what they found was really interesting. They had them do this at 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. The 8:00 AM group did not perform as well as the 6:00 PM group. There were better results at 6:00 PM with their performance than there was at 8:00 AM.
Okay, wait a minute, so you're telling me that you preform better in the evening. But Thomas, you're always telling me to work out in the morning, why are you a proponent of training fasted in the morning. Well, let me explain again. What they also found is that levels of cortisol, insulin and testosterone were higher in the morning. As well as epinephrine, norepinephrine, adrenaline, and the things that we need to get our heart rate up.
Okay, so why didn't they preform as well in the morning? Well, because testosterone isn't directly correlated with our performance. Not always. You see, the group in the afternoon was more fed, they were in a situation where they were awake a little bit more. There were all these other factors that allow them to preform better. But, it didn't affect their body composition. So, what I'm saying is, if you're training in the morning, you're catecholamines like epinephrine and norepinephrine are working in your favor. 46% increase in epinephrine. Epinephrine mobilizes fat. You know from my videos that I'm always talking about, whenever we get these catecholamines elevated like adrenaline, it causes our body to save muscle and burn fat.
So this means that you get more out of your workout. So, I want you to shift how you normally look at things. I want you to try and make your workout harder. By training in the morning, you are making your workout harder on your body. You're making it harder, so it makes your body composition results easier to obtain, because you're getting to work with cortisol and work with the norepinephrine and epinephrine that's allowing you to burn more fat in that process. Is it more difficult? Sure, you haven't been eating, you're fasted, you're not even fully awake yet. But you have all these hormones that are working in your favor to change your body. But not necessarily in your favor for better performance.
So you have to find your balance. If you want to go into the gym one day and you want to have a submaximal lift and you want to really work hard in that regard, then train in the evening, train in the late afternoon. But by far, if you want the body composition results, you're gonna want to train in the morning, and preferably in a fasted state, because you have those Intracellulare lipids that also get utilized as fuel. Meaning you're literally burning more fat for fuel by training in the morning in a fasted state than you are in the afternoon.
Now, if you really want to push the envelope, you can combine forces. So, if you're fasting, for instance. If you're practicing intermittent fasting, you could push your fast all the way into the afternoon, and train in the afternoon when your performance is gonna be at it's best, but still reap the benefits of being fasted when the catecholamines and epinephrine and norepinephrine are elevated. That's how you could possibly get the double whammy effect of good performance and good body composition results.
But by far, that's how you determine what you want. If you're trying to go for a personal record, go in the afternoon. If you're trying to go for rapid changes in your body, you train in the morning. It's that simple. You've got all your hormones at play, and that's all there is to it. As always, make sure you're keeping it locked in here on my videos, and I will see you in the next one.