BEST TIME TO TRAIN?
The best time to train is as close as possible to the natural spike in cortisol. This means in the morning. Remember that the natural cortisol circadian rhythm has cortisol high in the morning and low in the evening. And training spikes cortisol. So, if you train in the morning and get a cortisol spike from your workout at least it is at a moment when you should have elevated cortisol.
If you train in the evening you are spiking cortisol when they should be getting lower. And over time this could spell disaster for your testosterone and thyroid levels. Not to mention that it will make it much harder to recover from your workouts and will negatively affect your energy throughout the day.
Understand that it’s not the act of training late that is a problem, it is the cortisol elevation that comes with it. And happens at the wrong time of day.
It has also been found that the best times to train when it comes to performance, are 3 and 11 hours after waking up. How did they find that out? It was a study performed in Russia with Olympic lifters. They tested grip strength at every hour to see the fluctuations. And they found that they had a peak at both 3 and 11 hours after waking up. I’ve done the test myself and it is accurate (my results were the highest at 2 and 10 hours after waking up).
If we consider the above information about cortisol rhythm it means that the best time to train, the one that combines the best hormonal and neurological response, is 2-3 hours after waking up.
I personally wake up at 4:00am and train at 6:30am. Yes, it was hard to do at first, it required changing many habits. But after about 20 days it felt great and natural. Of course, I go to bed at around 9:00pm to get a proper night of sleep.
You could also wake up at 5:00am and train at 7:30 for example.
WHEN IS THE WORST TIME TO TRAIN?
The worst time to train is the time that doesn’t respect the natural cortisol circadian rhythm. We should have low cortisol levels in the evening, so training in the evening is the worst time to do it. Especially if you go to bed within 2-3 hours.
If we look at the best neurological times to train (3 and 11 hours after waking up) and you wake up at 7:00am it means that you can still have a good performance at 6:00pm. But that still doesn’t respect the optimal cortisol rhythm, but at least you can perform well.
So, when it comes to bad times to train I would say that…
Anything past 6:00pm is really bad
The closer your workout is from your bed time, the worst it is (you don’t want elevated cortisol when going to bed)
Afternoon training, up to 6:00pm, is suboptimal. But you can get decent results if you use strategies to lower cortisol levels after your training, like using the Amino+Recovery fomula, grouping adaptogens.
Article written by: Christian Thibaudeau