The Conversation Spain
Shutterstock / Friends StockWhen we set out to start practicing a sport, or we want to improve our performance, different questions will surely come to our minds about how to organize our training sessions. One of them is usually related to the most appropriate time of day to practice physical activity. Is it better to train in the morning? Or should I go to the gym in the evenings? What if what I do is a long-term workout? What’s real in everything we hear about biorhythms? Why do I feel better when I train at a certain time? We are going to analyze these aspects of performance in the following lines, as well as the influence that practicing sports has on our rest at one hour or another. First of all, you have to understand that we cannot understand performance without proper recovery. Hormone levels, biorhythms and performance Good physical performance during the day is in many cases related to a good quality of sleep at night. This allows the body an adequate recovery and, therefore, a better performance the next day. In those people who suffer from sleep problems, this could be an aspect of great relevance. We must bear in mind that the quality of sleep could be modified by the biorhythms or circadian rhythms of the body. These depend on the hormonal changes that occur. In this way, and answering this section, the question would be: according to our biorhythms, will it be better to train in the morning or in the afternoon? In principle, during the morning and in healthy people, we find higher levels of cortisol and testosterone. The first of these is the so-called stress hormone, and it is related to catabolism, or in other words and in what is of interest to us here, protein degradation. Testosterone, on the other hand, is an anabolic hormone, that is to say, of protein synthesis and its elevated levels during the morning could counteract cortisol levels. We could think of taking advantage of the effects of these hormones to achieve better performance. However, and although it seems that training during the afternoon (for example, strength training) helps to lower cortisol levels towards the last hours of the day, facilitating later rest, the studies are contradictory in this regard. Image 2. Hormonal levels throughout the day. Thus, at the moment we cannot guarantee that training in the morning or afternoon is of significant relevance if we stick to hormonal levels. Training and the nervous system The time at which the training takes place could have a different effect on our autonomic nervous system. This is subdivided in turn into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The first of them is related to situations of stress and alertness, while the second has the opposite effect on our body, to understand us, it generates a state of calm in it. The practice of physical exercise creates changes in the autonomic nervous system, which can alter the quality of sleep during the night. To analyze and understand the changes on this, you can study the changes it causes on the heart rate. First of all, we must understand that intense training increases the heart rate after exertion, due to the stimulus on the sympathetic nervous system. In that sense, we know that an afternoon workout could worsen the quality of sleep for some people. In addition, science shows us that a workout in the morning generates an increase towards the last hours of the day of the parasympathetic system and does not interfere with the quality of sleep or recovery for the next day. Therefore, it would be possible to find people who, after training towards the end of the day, find it difficult to rest, which is not desirable. In that sense, it would be advisable to train in the morning to benefit, in addition, from the activating effect that physical exercise has on the body. But when do you get better performance then? We already have an idea of the effects that training and the different times of the day have on our body. But, if I want to achieve the best possible performance, and I have no problems sleeping, when is it better to train? The science is pretty much conclusive when it comes to strength training. In principle, if we have to choose, we should train during the afternoon. During this period of the day, the levels of activation and muscle contraction are usually higher. It is therefore, compared to the morning, where higher performance peaks are achieved. The same does not happen in the case of aerobic training, where there does not seem to be a great difference between the results obtained at some hours or another. Likewise, short-term anaerobic training achieves its best performance peaks towards the afternoon. This could be due to the increase in body temperature during this period, which has a good warming effect on the body, promoting a better later state Image 3. Body temperature throughout the day. Even with this information, we must take into account some aspects. The first is that strength and hypertrophy gains are similar regardless of what time of day you train. On the other hand, the body has a great capacity for adaptation, and if the training is carried out regularly in the morning, the performance will be comparable to that in the afternoon. So, we should not worry if our training should be done before noon as long as it has a continuity. Finally, it is important to note that, if we have to compete in the mornings or afternoons, we must adapt our body to training in the same time slot. Health and training at different times of the day We do not want to close this article without making a brief note about the health effects of training at different times of the day. It is a broad and complex issue, but we would like to give an example: the time of day, the time of day and the characteristics of the sporting activity could be elements to take into account when it comes to improving some health problems. Let’s start by mentioning a topic that will always be current: fat loss or being overweight. In this sense, some studies show us that training in the morning and before breakfast could have a positive effect on the body, since a 24-hour increase in fat oxidation has been observed. This stimulus would not be similar if the training was carried out after breakfast or throughout the day. On the other hand, an aerobic workout in the morning could have a positive effect on blood pressure and normalize its values, probably thanks to the modulation that exercise has on the autonomic nervous system. In this way, when we go to choose the time of day to train, it will not only be a matter of physical performance, but an individualized programming process guided by a professional taking care of the overall health of the person. Conclusions If we are going to start strength training or do anaerobic training, the afternoon is surely the best time of day to do it. Aerobic or long-term training would not have any inconvenience in being done both in the morning and in the afternoon. However, it is necessary that we be able to adapt training to the athlete’s needs. In this way, if the competition is at a specific time, the training must be carried out at a similar time to achieve an adaptation of the body to the desired time slot. Finally, we must bear in mind that training is not only a process of seeking performance, but that movement itself implies health. Thus, it may be advisable for some people to do their physical activity in the morning. Thus, training will not alter your quality of sleep and will allow you better control over your weight and a more efficient burning of fat.This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original. David Recuenco Serrano does not receive a salary, nor does he carry out consulting work, nor does he own shares, nor does he receive financing from any company or organization that can benefit from this article, and he has declared that he lacks relevant links beyond the academic position cited.