early morning exercise vs late night exercise fitness health workout

The time of day you choose to workout will impact your weightloss goals. Photo: Adobe Stock

Expert opinion: How morning workouts impact your fitness goals

Did you know the time of day you choose to workout can affect your results? Here are the advantages and disadvantages of morning workouts.

early morning exercise vs late night exercise fitness health workout

The time of day you choose to workout will impact your weightloss goals. Photo: Adobe Stock

Whether you workout late at night or early in the morning, it is important to know that both have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your training goals, these pros and cons could significantly be impacting the efficiency of your workout. The sports nutrition experts who work at Bulk have weighed up the pros and cons of an early morning workout.

Here are the advantages of disadvantages of early morning workouts.

Early morning workout – 5am-8am 


  1.  Increased alertness 

One of the biggest advantages to an early morning workout is feeling more alert- believe it or not.  

Whilst you may feel exhausted as you drag yourself to the gym, your body produces a hormone called cortisol which is at its peak level at around 8am in the morning. 

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, helps you keep awake and alert. This hormone will only cause you problems if there is too much or too little of it. 

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Therefore, if you have a healthy circadian rhythm- the 24-hour cycle that includes physiological and behavioural rhythms like sleeping- your body will be more primes to exercise early in the morning.  

  1.  Can improve weight loss rate 

For those looking to shred some body fat, a big advantage of working out in the morning is it is generally better for weight loss. 

Elevated cortisol levels and growth hormone in the morning are both associated with your metabolism.  

Therefore, taking high intensity exercise in the morning can help to boost the metabolism and burn more body fat, drawing more of your energy from your fat reserves. 

The time of day you choose to exercise has a big impact on you results: Image: Adobe Stock
  1.  Improves your body clock 

A study published by the Journal of Physiology found that exercising at 7 a.m. can shift your body clock earlier. 

Not only will this improve how alert you are in the morning but can also prime you to fall asleep easier and earlier that evening, allowing you to get enough rest to wake up and repeat the same routine again the following day.  

  1. Helps with appetite control 

Exercise generally helps to control your appetite. 

Studies have now shown that aerobic exercise, like running, cycling, and swimming decreases appetite. This is because it alters our hormone levels that drive hunger. 

The theory behind exercise as an suppressant or stimulant of your appetite is based on the activities of two main hormones, ghrelin and peptide YY.  

These are hormones with opposing actions, both released during exercise. Ghrelin stimulates appetite while peptide YY decreases appetite. 

Therefore as exercise suppresses the ghrelin hormone, this will help you to control your appetite. 

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  1.  Less time to warm up before weightlifting 

For those who are wanting to build muscle or tone up, an early morning workout could do more harm than good.

This is because the body needs time to warm up before lifting weights. If you don’t give your muscles enough time to loosen up, you could risk an injury. 

  1.  Lack of sleep 

If you didn’t get to bed early enough the night before, or perhaps had a restless sleep, getting up at the crack of dawn and working out could also be extremely straining to the body. 

Ensuring the body is fully rested before engaging in any workout is extremely important. 

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If you worked out the night before, sleep is what allows muscle tissue time to recover between workouts.  

Having enough sleep is also important for having the energy to exercise, therefore not getting enough can lead to being less physically active during the day and reduced any muscle strength during workouts. 

  1.  Inability to build muscle 

Working out first thing in the morning generally doesn’t help with building muscle.  

This is because your body needs a few hours to refuel stores that it has used up during the night. 

Your muscles primarily use glucose to fuel weightlifting and resistance exercises. A morning workout does not result in significant gains in either muscle mass or strength, as you don’t yet have sufficient stores. 

Therefore, if muscle or strength increases are your primary goal, workouts will see more benefits later in the day. 

  1.  Metabolic rate can impact eating habits 

As an early morning workout will boost your metabolism early in the day, your metabolic rate then generally slows down again in the evening.  

Whereas an afternoon or evening workout will boost your metabolism later in the day, which is more beneficial if your dinner is your main meal of the day, providing the most calories. 

For those looking for results in weight loss or weight maintenance, ideally you want to align your workouts with your biggest calorie intake to ensure best results.  

If you want to burn calories and fat, changing your workout routine to the time of day when you eat your largest meal could be extremely beneficial.

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