Morning or evening – when is the best time to train? A new study suggests that gender matters.
Researchers at the US University of Skidmore examined what exercise brings to women and men at different times of the day. To do this, 27 women and 20 men completed a training program developed by the researchers, including a meal plan. For twelve weeks, they trained under supervision for 60 minutes on four days a week, some between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and the other between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
Result: It is much more effective for men to train in the evening. For women it depends on what they want to achieve.
“We show here for the first time that in women, morning exercise reduces abdominal fat and blood pressure, while in women, evening exercise increases muscle strength, power and upper body endurance, and improves overall mood and feelings of satiety,” according to study director Dr. Paul Arciero. “We have also shown that in men, evening training Lowers blood pressure, lowers heart disease risk, makes you feel tired and burns more fat than morning exercise.”
It comes as no surprise to Jörn Giersberg that the optimal times of day for exercise are different for men and women.
The qualified sports scientist and personal trainer explains: “Men have to ‘warm up’ first. There have long been indications that their ideal training time for weight training is between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Than are muscles and tendons warm. Women already respond to low to moderate exercise intensity, no matter what time of day.”
Women could train harder
The fact that the training units have such a different effect on the sexes could be due to physiological differences. “Women have a higher percentage of body fat (intramuscular fat). And they only produce a tenth of the testosterone that men do. Testosterone is crucial for building muscle. So women can’t get as much strength as men, their bodies react differently to the training,” says Giersberg.
On the other hand, the training intensity can also play a role: “Female recreational athletes do endurance sports more often and use lighter weights for strength training. This is a mistake in my experience, because women benefit from higher intensities when they want to lose weight or shape their figure.”
The sports expert would not readily advise slavishly adapting one’s own training times to the study results. “The effects described in the study are interesting – but certainly above all for competitive athletes. They can train at any time, but recreational athletes cannot. In addition to work and family, it is often difficult to exercise regularly at all,” says Giersberg.
Train – no matter when!
His appeal: “Basically, training always works, no matter when – the main thing is that you move! Your personal feeling and your individual needs come first.” But if it is possible, he would always recommend tackling more intensive exertion in the afternoon or evening and moderate-intensity sport earlier in the day.
In the study, training took place in the evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. However, evening physical exertion upset the inner clock – sleep disorders, headaches and exhaustion threaten. Until when is sport in the evening safe?
“I think if you train for an hour at 7 p.m. or 7.30 p.m., you’re on the safe side. Then there is enough time to rest afterwards. If, exceptionally, it gets later, that’s usually not a problem, but that shouldn’t become a regular occurrence,” warns Giersberg.