What is the Best Time to Work Out?

When to hit the gym, and why.

Most Muscular
Most Muscular.
Welcome back,

first off I must say that I am very proud to have mastered my first US TV appearance on Good Day NY. IT was a lot of fun.

Now, back to work.

After getting some questions and emails in regards to my "Cardio on an empty stomach" article, I wanted to go a little bit broader and debate the subject of workout timing.

To me, pre- and intra workout nutrition is much more important that the actual time of the day, which is what I'll try to outline here.

Most people train after work, which makes a certain amount of sense. You are fully awake, have eaten 3-4 meals (I hope) and your hormone levels should be nearly optimal. You might even use the workout as a stress reliever if your boss or co-worker annoyed you. The downside is that some of your mental energy might be spent already, depending on your job. To overcome that, I use 3 grams of L-tyrosine with 200-300mg of caffeine 30 minutes before the workout. This combo gives a nice even focus without making you hyper, like some of the sugary energy drinks out there (it's also cheaper).

As for the last meal before training, I usually eat a lean protein/complex carb combo, something like flank steak and potatoes, chicken and rice, oats and whey. You ll have to figure out what works for you, in my case I get the best pumps when eating red meat before training.

You Might Also Like...

Brilliant device. If your shoulders aren't quite as flexible as you'd like, grab The Rotater. Love it.
Already got one? Looking for something specific? Swing by the Straight to the Bar Store. It's all in there.

During the workout, I prefer to have 10-15 grams of aminos or whey, BCAAs work as well. I really feel that those 10 grams of protein are worth 70 grams at another time of the time. In other words, its critical. My guess is that there some motor manipulation happening, but I am not sure.

Post workout, I am NOT a huge fan of the high-carb protein shakes, I feel I just get chubby. Instead, I wait an hour and eat a solid meal. Personally, I feel that pre- workout nutrition matters much more than post. No matter how good/fast your protein powder is, the amino acids in your blood stream immediately after training will be the ones from the meal before.

What about those poor souls who have to train at 5 or 6 am? First off, the good news is, your body gets adjusted to any workout hour. Your first attempts at working out in the early morning might not be so great but then you should settle into a rhythm. The tyrosine-caffeine combo can work wonders in the wee hours in terms of motivation.

As for eating, it is simply not practical to get up at 1 am and start cramming your meals in, which is why I emphasize dinner before an early workout. If I know I ll be doing legs or back in the morning, I usually have sushi for dinner. The rice and soy sauce make for a nice anabolic effect and will give you a great pump. One hour before training, I consume oatmeal and whey protein or eggs, depending what my diet is like. Coconut oil is great for extra energy if you are low carbing.

Intra and post workout remain the same, of course.

In our modern society, very few people have the actual liberty to pick the perfect workout time for them so make sure you are well fed, focused and hydrated!


Maik Wiedenbach

Maik Wiedenbach is an Olympic athlete, personal trainer, and nutritionist. He shares his training wisdom in the 101 Fitness Myths and 30 Secrets for Bigger Arms! ebooks, and the Desk Athlete DVD. Superb.

When not in the gym, he may be found training clients over at Adler Training; and also on Facebook and LinkedIn. Swing on by.

Like this? Check out :

Recovery and Regeneration for the Strength Athlete.

Does your training plan involve a solid dose of recovery work?

Isopure Protein Powder - My Review.

My review of Isopure low carb whey protein.

The Iron Guru - Vince Gironda.

The original low-carb bodybuilder.

From Losing to Lifting.

An incredible journey.

Dark Chocolate: The Delicious Way to Improve Your Physique and Performance.

The many health benefits of this wonderful product.

Of course, if you enjoyed these, I'd highly recommend grabbing the Strength & Fitness Newsletter. Delivered weekly, and absolutely free.

(there's also a Daily Update, if you're looking for an even larger dose of training-related goodness.)

NB : If you'd like to write a guest post for Straight to the Bar, or if you'd like to join the team of Moderators here (I love hearing about everyone's training approaches) - get in touch. And if you've got a fitness competition or seminar coming up, add it to the calendar.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Over to you. Leave a comment below, or send us a tweet :

blog comments powered by Disqus
Straight to the Bar Strength Kit

Are You as Strong as You Could Be?

Grab the Straight to the Bar Strength Kit.

Training Guides, eBooks and of course the Strength & Fitness Newsletter. Absolutely free.