My Results - Strength Training In The Evening For Two Years
May 6th 2019
Come find out how well strength training in the evening is compared to other training times. Ever since I graduated college back in 2017, I naturally inclined to do my workouts in the evening. I would wake up at 4AM in the morning and get back around 5-6PM. As a result, I found it more helpful to workout in the evening. But I do not work that job anymore but still maintain the same schedule.
Strength training in the evening results
Strength training in the evening has positively produced results in terms of increasing my personal records (PRs). However, it is more important to focus on getting your training done rather than overanalyze why you should train in the morning vs the afternoon vs at night.
Currently, my best PRs for 2019 have been a 350lbs squat, 230lbs bench press and a 415lbs deadlift. My max overhead press was tested in late 2018 and it was 155lbs. All of these PRs were made when I was about 170lbs bodyweight. I was initially heavier right out of college but I slowly leaned myself down.
Back in 2017, I did not test my maxes at all but I remembered trying to attempt some. I believe I was at a 325lbs squat, 205lbs bench press, and a 385lbs deadlift. My overhead press max was around 145lbs. At that time, I was closer to a 180lbs bodyweight.
What does research say?
It is easy to read about research and to create theories about why we should or should not do things. However, this sucks because we are all very smart people. We will overanalyze the situation and create an even more stressful environment for ourselves. So, here is my personal experience from some of the most common reasons why you should and should not do strength training in the evening.
Affects your sleep negatively
I have seen this reason come up a lot. Personally, I do not suffer from insomnia so I am unable to speak about that. Probably only a few times in my entire strength training experience I have ever experienced feeling too pumped up from a workout. Then again, I do have about 3-5 hours of a cooldown prior to going to bed. I also do not have a family so my stress has been kept low. I can see the argument for sleep research about doing heavy resistance training 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. At this point, I may feel restless.
For the most part, I feel even better at night. I feel very drained after most workouts and I just want to take a nice slumber. My body feels very relaxed and tired and wants to take a nap afterward.
Peak strength optimization on afternoons/evenings
There is a brief window of time, generally, between 2PM and 6PM, where muscles are more flexible, reaction time is quick, strength levels are high, heart rate is low and resting heart rate is low, according to this report.
I generally feel better in the morning when I workout. I feel fresh and it is the first thing on my mind. I am more focused in the morning. However, I do also get feelings of lethargy and sleepiness in the morning as well. In the evening, I do agree I feel warmer than compared to in the morning. I do not notice any other differences though. I generally feel more tired after school or work and sometimes run out of steam during a longer workout.
Lung performance is best in the evening
During heavy squats or deadlifts, I feel gassed either way. If there is such an improvement, I have not noticed it. I am always pushing myself to greater heights with my training from the previous workout.
So, there are several variables that are always changing for me. So, I do not notice any improved lung performance. Work capacity and conditioning? I experienced a better work capacity when I work hard and continue to push the issue, whether I am feeling great or not.
Mental focus is not as great
This is one thing I have experienced myself. I am always planning my next move and making an analysis of my work and surroundings. If my workouts are in the evening, it is a slight nag to think about and to psyche myself up for. Especially if it is a heavy workout, it would take even more mental concentration.
But I can see where this can be an asset for some lifters. Some strength athletes are in the zone in the evening and do not need to focus on what they are doing. They know that they just need to get themselves to the gym and to lift heavy stuff. No more emotions. No more thoughts. Hard work and consistency.
Pain tolerance is highest in the afternoon
I would be dishonest if I said that I wouldn’t push for an extra rep or two in the afternoon/evening compared to in the morning. If I do early workouts, I do feel a small urge not to push as hard since it is so early in the day. At the same time, I will go hard when I step foot in the gym.
This does have an effect on training but it should not be a deciding factor. If you are a powerlifter, you should be ready to compete in all types of days. In Strongman competitions, people sometimes complete in all day events for multiple days.
Just an FYI for anyone looking to optimize their training but do not let it hold you back from living a life you want to.
Strength training in the evening is fun but it can be challenging. As much as lifters want to ignore research, our bodies do have “peak” windows of time in order to accomplish certain tasks. At the same time, would you not train during a certain time if research said not to? You live your own life. As far as the public is concerned, there is research to support every opinion available on when and when not to train. You can really give yourself anxiety if you think about all the possible reasons to make your training the best. So, why would you?
Be informed but be practical. You do not get a gold medal if you strength train in the evening. Probably the most important aspect of training is to get it done. We all live different lives with our own personal and life struggles. So, we will always just try to make a situation the best as we can.