Early Bird or Night Owl, Does it Really Make a Difference?


First, I would like to apologize for this post being delayed so long after the previous post. Due to changing conditions in my work life, I have had to take a sabbatical from my writing for the month of May. Through the month of May I have changed jobs, cleared my head, and gotten better muscle gains.

So now, I’m ready to get back to my writing and provide you with your weekly dose of Is This Lifting? Let’s get to it!


There it is right in the title. I am NOT a morning person. It takes well over a pot of coffee, two hours, and a complete absence of fluffy bunnies and dandelions for me to wake up on the right side of the bed in the morning.

With that being said, I have become completely accustomed to working out in the evening. In the evening I have had my coffee, I have gotten through my work day, and right after I can eat enough food to feed a small family (what can I say, I love to eat).

Morning of Afternoon Workout
I’m just like this kid. I would be grumpy while eating a pop tart.

And then things changed…

Good Morning Beautiful

I changed jobs, and now I have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed by 6AM every day (can you hear the sadness in my voice). The new job is great, and I’m getting the opportunity of a lifetime to work for this company, but now my hours have completely changed.

And did I mention that my new job requires lots of heavy lifting and constant moving? It’s like I’m exercising for 9-10 hours every day, so I definitely don’t feel like hitting up the gym at the end of my day. So now, I have to be in the gym early in the morning every day before the sun has even woken up (is that even possible?)

What is this madness!?

Is This for Better or for Worse?

Now I’m wondering if I’m going to lose muscle or plateau because of my time change. I’ve been down this road before, I’ve tried to work out in the mornings, and I was terrible at it. I was tired, groggy, and didn’t feel nearly as focused as I needed to be. I perform a lot better in the afternoons, after I’ve been awake for a few hours and have gotten through my workday.

Now I have to make the change, and I will do so accordingly if I don’t have a choice in the matter. But the big question is am I going to lose muscle mass due to changing the time I am working out?

You would think that it doesn’t have an effect, but of course it does. Let’s take a look at the differences of working out in the morning or the evening.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Morning of Afternoon Workout
Look at that worm! It has to have a lot of protein!

Working out in the morning has a lot of advantages for those of us who can actually get up early and function. For the early bird, early mornings are an opportune to put on muscle mass while your body is still benefiting from sleep. Not to mention, you get the workout out of the way early on in your day so that you can focus on other priorities through the rest of your day.

Here are some key benefits for getting your workout taken care of in the morning:

  • Morning exercise may help in fat burning and fat loss, partly due to higher than normal testosterone. It also helps that your body has not had much food to process yet, and may turn to fat for energy instead.
  • The morning has the most potential for building muscle because testosterone is critical in protein synthesis and for rebuilding muscle fiber damaged in weight training.
  • In the morning we have greaterfocus, which may allow for greater mind-muscle connection and greater efficiency of muscle work done.

The Night Owl Can Achieve Anything

Morning of Afternoon Workout
What a night owl! So majestic, so muscular, so owl-y!

For those of us that like to work out in the afternoons (*cough cough*) there are plenty of advantages for you as well! For the individual who prefers to work out in the afternoons, you have the opportunity to benefit from a higher pain tolerance, alertness, and attention. Here are some great benefits to working out in the afternoons:

  • The evening has the best potential for strongest performance. This is the time of day when the body is in peak condition for physical activity.
  • Working out at night increases ability to absorb nutrients on a cellular level. It also gets your body prepared naturally for sleep.
  • Plenty of focus after being done with the workday, so you can be less distracted.


So there you have it! What works best? Well that’s tough. By all the things described, it’s hard to give a definite answer, even though most people prefer to train in the evening. However, the best time to hit the gym is the time that suits you and your goals the best! Adjust your diet, training, and workout plan according to your gym time and you should be golden!

Do your research, be prepared, and get lifting!

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