Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating on the Faculty of Exercise and Sport Science, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing advice for better life. Follow him on Twitter.
Conventional wisdom says that a workout is best performed during the day or in the morning which can make perfect sense for some people – but what about the night owls?
Night owls generally wake up early and bustling with energy, so while others are drifting away to dreamland, you can do something else entirely – like pumping iron.
Larks vs Owls
You might have heard through the grapevine that morning exercise is the “be all end all” of workouts because it allows you to rise and shine and get through the day with a bang.
Since we are not all morning go-getters, a daily schedule can really complicate things. As a general rule of thumb, you should exercise when your energy levels are the highest and you do not have pressing obligations to take care of. So what if that perfect moment is during the night?
Well, let us take a look at the science behind this.
Intense workouts like weight lifting put a tremendous amount of stress on your body, especially areas like the lumbar spine. Studies have confirmed that when we wake up, the spine is not in the best shape to withstand pressure due to the process of lengthening and accumulation of spinal fluid. In fact, in the afternoon and evening, it is 20% stronger than in the morning.
Those who seek to circumnavigate this problem would have to get up even earlier, which is not always an option, is it?
Ups & Downs
Furthermore, scientists have found that in the evening your stamina, body temperature, and coordination reach their peak – lung functions run like clockwork, and your strength and flexibility are at their prime.
So, it turns out that in the evening and night our body is most prepared to endure psychical trials and tribulations. Hence, those who want to get the most out of lifting weights are inclined to try this practice out. Therewithal, let us debunk another common myth that night exercise impedes your sleeping habits.
It is true that physical activity raises body temperature, spurs the release of adrenaline, and elevates heart rate.
While these are desirable outcomes, they do not help when you close your eyes. The trick is not to exercise too close to bedtime. With that exception, training almost always helps you sleep better.
Likewise, late exercise actually improves quality of sleep, provided that you let your adrenaline, heart rate, and body temperature stabilize.
Get Strong or Die Trying
It seems that night exercise is definitely worth trying.
It isn’t a silver bullet for your fitness problems, and it has logistical problems associated with it – the gym might not be open at night, and public transportation could pose a difficulty.
Also, bear in mind that dark alleys and tracks are not the safest places to break a sweat. So, when you decide to do things like nighttime running, always carry a cell phone with you, stay aware of your surroundings, avoid shady neighborhoods and wear reflective clothing tape.
That being said, there is enough evidence to conclude a change of pace can be greatly beneficial for weightlifters. Namely, alternating your training from morning to evening could be the best decision you have ever made.
There is also something quite special about nocturnal adventures and the ability to melt the stress away after a long day and wind down. Still, our biological rhythms are different and some systems like testosterone production and pain tolerance run better at different times of the day.
So, pave your own path to physical grandeur and assemble a game plan tailored to your specific needs.
Weight training is a key to achieving stellar results, and to do that, you have to be at your best, both mentally and physically.
Science has delivered its verdict, and proven that the body is at its peak for physical activity in the evening, but it is up to you to test the waters and see if late exercise works for you.
So, if it suits you, feel free to squeeze in a workout in the evening, lift weights while watching the Late Night Show, or the Late Late Show, and descend from your nest when the city sleeps.
Just leave some time between training and going to bed and align your eating habits with the new schedule.