Fasted cardio, first thing? Lunchtime squats? Post-work spin? The internet is awash with conflicting advice on the best time to optimize your training. In part, that’s because a range of factors determines your body’s prime time for fat loss: your genes, body type, circadian rhythm, and so on.
That’s all well and good but, after a summer of doing sweet FA, there’s a good chance you don’t want to wait months on end to see #gymgains. Gratifyingly, if you’re aiming for fast muscle gains, like a bigger butt, rather than weight loss, the science is irrefutable – later equals larger.
Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi asked young athletes to train with weights at different times of the day and recorded the results. While all participants showed similar improvements in strength, the group that trained at 6 pm gained more muscle mass than those who worked out at 10 am. Plus, the evening group remained slightly leaner than the early-risers at the end of the experiment.
The benefits of doing your best booty building workout later in the day make biological sense. For a start, levels of the stress hormone cortisol (useful for getting you out of bed, less helpful for your gains) peak early in the morning. Also, your metabolism slows down naturally as the day progresses, but the evening reps force it to speed up again. That means you’ll burn more energy over the whole day, which equals more defined muscles.
So make a stop at the squat rack after work, reward your reps with a lie-in and wake up to peachier progress.
Here’s how to get more from your workout day
Follow our plan to build muscle around the clock.
7 AM: Morning Meditation
Cortisol peaks when you wake, suppressing testosterone which is key for gains. Reboot your T-levels with 10 minutes of the Headspace app.
8 AM: Walk to Work
Nearly half of us are vitamin-D deficient. A cardio commute can top up your levels and increase testosterone by 25 percent.
2 PM: High-carb Lunch
Not only will pasta stock your muscles with energy, but carbs can also help boost testosterone during resistance training.
10 PM: Lights out
The impact of good sleep on your gym progress cannot be undervalued. Magnesium supports before bed can help you drop off easily.