Sundried ran a poll and found that out of 256 people, 174 of them prefer to train in the morning while 82 prefer to train in the evening. But does it make a difference to performance? Or is it just personal preference? We take a look.
Best time of day to exercise for maximum weight loss
While there is no conclusive proof that training before breakfast aids weight loss, it is true that working out in the morning sets you up for a good day and will leave you burning more calories over the course of the day. However, after firing up your metabolism early in the morning, you will find that you are hungrier than normal throughout the day, so make sure you don't reverse the positive effects by overeating to compensate.
Another benefit to working out in the morning is that you are more likely to have more energy and therefore work harder during your training. As such, you will unconsciously burn more calories than you would doing a half-hearted workout after a tough day at work.
Best time to exercise to gain muscle
Studies have found that the body's strength and flexibility is actually at its peak in the late afternoon and that this is also the time when our perceived exertion rate (how difficult we find the workout) is at its lowest, meaning you are more likely to find the workout easier at this time.
That said, if you have been sat at a desk under artificial lights all day, chances are you will be tired and hungry and going to do a big strength session will be the last thing you want to do.
Research has actually found that the body adapts to regular workout times, so if you always hit the gym after work at 6pm, it will eventually perform better at that time than any other time of day. The best thing you can do, therefore, is go when suits you and make sure you eat plenty throughout the day to fuel you ready for your big session after work.
Is it better to train on an empty stomach?
Research is inconclusive on whether training fasted actually has any benefits when it comes to losing weight. However, if you are a long-distance endurance athlete, such as training for a marathon, doing fasted cardio is good for training your body to undergo exertion with low glycogen stores. What this does is prepare you both physically and mentally for those times in endurance work when you are running low on sugar stores.
However, by training fasted you will compromise on performance and you will most certainly find your workout harder. Therefore, it is good to train on an empty stomach every now and then to prepare for endurance sports, but other than that there is no proof to support training on an empty stomach for any other reason.
Related: Should I Train Fasted?
Is it better to exercise in the morning or evening?
So, it seems there are arguments for working out both in the morning and the evening. In the end it will always come down to personal choice.
Benefits of training in the morning
- You will be more fresh and ready to train
- You can train fasted before breakfast
- You will burn more calories throughout the day
- You won't need to worry about fitting in a workout after work
- You are less likely to skip your workout
Benefits of training in the evening
- Research shows we are stronger and more flexible at this time
- You will not be rushed for time
- You are more likely to be able to train with a buddy
- You will benefit from the extra energy of eating throughout the day
- You are more likely to sleep better
We often read about living a healthy lifestyle and there are countless 'lifestyle bloggers' making a fortune from advocating this way of life. But what actually is a healthy lifestyle? And how can you live a healthy lifestyle?
Why is having a healthy lifestyle important?
A healthy lifestyle is all about the choices you make regarding your daily habits. Do you slump on the sofa and eat an entire packet of biscuits when you get home from work or do you go for a run and eat a healthy dinner? These daily choices determine whether you're healthy or not, and can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Not only will you feel better mentally, living a healthy lifestyle will lower your risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases meaning you are physically healthier too.
The benefits of living a healthy lifestyle
- Reduced risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases
- Improved mood and brain function
- Improved work performance and concentration
- Better self-confidence and happiness
- Improved appearance due to better quality skin and hair
- Improved relationships
- Reduced frequency of minor illnesses such as common cold
- Improved immune system
How can I change to a healthy lifestyle?
Probably the most obvious thing to address when changing to a healthy lifestyle is improving your diet. For a lot of people, the first thought is to make a complete overhaul and take extreme measures such as doing a detox or following an extreme diet. However, this is not a viable or sustainable way of changing to a healthy lifestyle. Consistency is key, so you need to make your changes for life and make sure you get into daily healthy habits that you can stick with long term. Take control of your diet by learning about macronutrients and how counting them can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Eating a snack or a treat every now and then is also part of living a healthy lifestyle, as a restricted diet is not healthy and not sustainable. Balance is important, so make sure you don't remove entire food groups from your diet.
One way to improve your diet is by going vegan. This can be fairly extreme, so make sure you do your research first, and it certainly isn't suitable for everyone. Find a healthy diet that works best for you and your unique needs and you'll be well on your way to having a healthy lifestyle.
- Eat plenty of protein
- Limit unhealthy foods but still allow a treat from time to time
- Limit processed foods
- Cook from scratch wherever possible
- Do not take extreme measures to lose weight
When changing to a healthier diet, many people tend to neglect what they drink and focus only on what they eat. You could be drinking lots of sugar in your drinks if you enjoy branded soft drinks, and there are even worse health effects associated with drinking large volumes of alcohol. If your lifestyle currently consists of going out drinking with friends every weekend, or drinking regularly as part of your daily routine, this is not healthy. In order to change to a healthy lifestyle, you will need to reduce or even eliminate altogether the amount of alcohol you drink. There are many benefits of giving up alcohol or even just drinking less, such as better skin, reduced risk of cancer, and improved mood. Not to mention no more hangovers!
- Limit sugar drinks
- Limit energy drinks
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
- Drink more water
Third in the pecking order of living a healthy lifestyle after diet and drinks is sleep. If you have poor quality sleep or do not get enough each night, your health will deteriorate quickly and you will have a poor quality of life. The average healthy adult should aim for an absolute minimum of 6 hours each night, but 8-10 hours is optimum for healthy brain function and performance.
Not only is it important for your daily functions, sleep is important for recovery too. If you do a great workout at the gym or go for a long run or cycle, having a good night's sleep is vital for recovery so that your muscles can grow and your tissue and immune system can stay healthy.
Not getting enough sleep is not the only unhealthy habit you may have; the quality of your sleep is important too. If you sleep with a television or music on, this is not conducive to a good night's sleep and it will mean your hormones are negatively affected. If you are continuously awoken throughout the night by loud noises, a baby crying, or a snoring partner, you will definitely suffer from bad moods and lack of concentration the next day. You can track your sleep using a fitness tracker or wearable to analyse the quality of your sleep and see if you are constantly being disturbed throughout the night. Getting a good 10 hours of high quality sleep every night is key to living a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, you cannot 'catch up on sleep' at the weekend - you have to be consistent!
- Try to get 8-10 hours sleep every night
- Don't try to catch up on sleep at the weekend
- Get into a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time 7 days a week
- Eliminate disruptions to your sleep by not sleeping with television or music on
We spend a lot of our time at work, so your healthy lifestyle needs to translate into the office as well as at home. If you can, try to work out while at work, as working out at work can help prevent health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. If you sit at a desk all day, try to get up and walk around every hour and if you have a manual job where you are on your feet all day, make sure you take rests.
There is lots of advice out there on how to workout at work and it is easier than you think. By following healthy work habits, you will greatly improve your chances of benefiting from a healthy lifestyle.Try to avoid snacking and avoid the temptation of all the unhealthy food in your workplace! Bring a homemade lunch with you each day so that you can control your portions and know exactly what you're eating.
- Get up and stay active while at work
- Avoid temptation by bringing your own food to work
External factors (family, friends, stress)
After all is said and done, there will always be external factors that you cannot control and which can undo all your hard work. If your home life is hectic and stressful, there is not much chance that you will be able to live a fully healthy lifestyle. Try to address the things that are causing you to have bad habits, such as grabbing a ready meal because you don't have time to make a healthy dinner or not getting enough sleep because of stress.
There are ways to manage depression which don't involve going to see a therapist, such as meditating, doing vigorous exercise, and finding a new hobby. All of these are very important for living a healthy lifestyle, and can make a huge difference to your well being. You can manage stress with exercise by going for a long run to clear your head or taking your frustrations out at the gym.
Try this upper body arm workout for women to blast your arms and get results! Including exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Perfect for toning and sculpting your arms and bingo wings.
Cable Tricep Pull Downs
This exercise is for isolating the triceps.
How to perform the tricep pull down
Using either a straight bar or rope attachment, attach to a cable machine in the high position. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, pull the bar down and keep your elbows tucked in. Push the bar down, fully extending your arms, then slowly raise the bar up back to the start position. Keep the movement control and feel the burn in the back of your arms!
Key exercise tips:
- Keep the elbows tucked in
- Fully extend the arms
- Exhale as you press down and inhale on the way up
- Too much movement of the arms – taking the elbows away from the body
- Shrugging the shoulders and using the trap muscles
- Going too heavy and using momentum
This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will trim and tone the arms whilst simultaneously working the core and blasting the shoulders.
How to use the battle ropes
Hold the ends of the rope at arm's length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, soften your knees, and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, instead of making waves, start slamming the rope into the ground. Make sure to keep breathing and don't hold your breath!
Key exercise tips:
- Tense your abs tightly during performance
- Concentrate on keeping your speed fast
- Don't hold your breath
- Sacrificing technique with fatigue
- Performing the exercise for too long
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
This is an isolation exercise for the biceps using a pair of dumbbells.
How to perform the dumbbell curl
In a standing position, holding a dumbbell in your hand and keeping your elbow pinned to your waist, curl your arm up to your chest, flexing your elbow then slowly extend it back down again. Repeat on each arm for 10-12 reps.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your elbow in a fixed position
- Fully extend your arm at the bottom of the movement
- Moving the elbow out of alignment
- Going too heavy and sacrificing technique
- Swinging the body with the movement
Tricep Bench Dips
This is a body weight exercise that you can do virtually anywhere. It’s a compound exercise, which means it will hit all three of your tricep muscles as well as your shoulders and chest muscles.
How to perform the tricep bench dip
Position your hands at shoulder width apart on a bench with your hands facing forward. Extend your legs out, taking your bum off the bench balancing on your hands.
Lower your body down towards the floor taking your arms into a 90 degrees bend. Press your body upwards, extending out your arms back into the start position.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your core tight to maintain an upright position
- Make sure your elbows track in line with your hand
- Breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you press up
- If you find it difficult to perform the tricep dip with straight legs then bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor
- Rounding/curving back
- Not going low enough
- Hyperextending the elbows
Have you ever noticed just how good you feel at the end of a great workout, run, or cycle? No matter how hard you have worked, how fatigued your muscles are, there is no denying that Happy Feeling, is there?
Sometimes we feel quite glum and we think we will treat ourselves to chocolate or some wine because excess seems to be a cure-all for unhappiness. However, these go-to strategies are counterproductive because of the consequences they have. This is why you should take your bad mood out for a run or cycle your stress away. These actions only have positive consequences.
How does it work?
When we exercise, in general, we start to feel less anxious. You benefit from increased energy as well as having that sense of self accomplishment. In the long run, you will benefit from being healthier and fitter, as well as feeling stimulated.
Exercise and being happy leads to an increased production in antibodies. These help fight bacteria and other nasty bugs (antigens) by hunting them out and destroying them. So the happiness created by exercise in turn helps boost our immune system too.
This knock-on positive effect goes even further. It is said that happy people are more resistant to colds and even heart disease. Whilst people who are stressed are much more susceptible to sickness. Mixed with exercise (which can increase antibody production by up to 300%), it is a win-win situation.
We have all heard of endorphins. These are the chemicals that cross the gaps between neurons to pass messages from one to the next. There is a lot to learn about endorphins, but one thing we know for sure is that they make us feel good. We have several triggers for endorphin release, from pain protection to talking to someone. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins.
Yet, light exercise doesn't really produce many (if any). It is when we sprint, or do heavy weights (anything that is anaerobic), so basically when we exert ourselves through exercise. Crossing from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state means your body starts to struggle and your muscles cry out for oxygen, endorphins are then released, giving you that good feeling.
So here’s how you do it:
1) Create a plan - set time every week where you can and will exercise. It sounds quite regimented, but once it becomes habit, it will be easier.
2) Stick to goals - think about what you want to achieve and write it down. Give yourself a target and work towards it. Keeping track of yourprogress is a great motivator (as if happiness isn't enough!).
3) Get friendly - pick something you enjoy doing and do it with a friend. Wether that is walking, the gym or running after work. If you say to a friend you are going, then you have committed to them and are less likely to think of a reason not to go.
Winter is here and it can get a lot of us down, be that mentally or physically. There are a lot of bugs doing the rounds and exercise can help fight it off. Get in shape for a better physical health, and a happier head.
Winter is the time of year when we naturally want to slow down and take it easy. It is also the time where we are much more likely to overindulge in excessive eating and drinking, so it isn't really the time to reduce our training. I have never been one to stick to a training plan over the winter months, I just tend to go out when the weather looks promising or I feel like it.
However, having learned the hard way, training over winter does set us in good stead for the new season. Having a regime over winter is much more beneficial in the long run.
Being disciplined at this time of year is difficult. The weather is against us, cold fingers and extremities are off-putting, and the ground can be slippy. There are a few options open to those of us who want to leap into spring in a pique physical condition.
Tips for outdoor exercise
Get kitted out. You want a fabric that will keep sweat away from your skin. A good waterproof jacket, Roubaix tights and a merino base layer will all help keep you warm. Don't forget to dress brightly for high visibility. Layer up and wear a hat and gloves.
Be Careful. Be cautious and be aware of the surfaces outside. Leaves litter the ground making it slippery, not to mention ice. Be cautious of drivers and their stopping distance and visibility.
Stay hydrated. Drinking in winter is as important as drinking in summer. Just because it is cold and you don't feel thirsty, it doesn't mean you are sweating less. Keep that water bottle handy!
Keep it sustainable. You are training but also having fun. Don't push yourself to new limits, but do stretch yourself.
Tips for indoor exercise
Join a local gym. If the cold isn't for you, then train indoors. A gym instructor can make a program for you based on your needs, you can circuit train and keep your fitness levels up.
Get fit with friends. Start an indoor badminton, tennis, squash (you get the idea) team with friends. Make it fun and competitive.
Swim for it. Swimming is a low-impact option and works out the whole body. Do a few leisurely lengths or join a class for a real workout.
Get mindful. Do something a little different and join a yoga or pilates class. These are great for keeping you supple as well as focusing your mind.
Tips for at-home exercise
Get some equipment. If you have a bike, get a stationary trainer and you can cycle indoors. Otherwise get some kit and put together a home gym. You can buy new or second-hand and buy as much as you can fit in your home and afford.
Do your housework quickly. Make chores fun and part of a workout. You can work up a sweat by hoovering, running up and down the stairs etc. Just put some good tunes on and have lots of vigour.
Buy a DVD. There is a multitude of exercise DVDs on the market. Pick one that you will like, it can be as long or as short as you like and is a cheap way to keep fit at home.
Circuit training. Yes, you can circuit train at home. Star jumps, steps, skipping, dancing, stair runs, sit-ups, chair dips, wall lunges and so on. Make a routine up and go for it.
One of the most difficult things to do is to stay motived. We have some tips for that too!
- Stay sensible. Choose a gym or activity near your home. Travel can put you off and give you a reason not to go, so don't let it become an obstacle.
- Keep it social. Train with someone who has the same goals as you do. This will make committing to a run, cycle etc much easier and you are more likely to do it. Plus the company will make time fly and you will have fun.
- Keep your expectations realistic. There will be times when it is difficult, or you miss a session. Don't let it set you back, just keep going. If you set your expectations too high, then you can let yourself down. So keep your goals real and achievable.
- Go go go. Don't talk yourself out of it. Get in the habit from autumn and the winter won’t seem like such a huge obstacle. Commit, have fun and spring into spring when it comes around.