When is the best time to workout to lose weight?
What’s equally important to ask is what are some of the worst times to workout?
If the benefits of exercise could be put in a pill, it would be the biggest blockbuster medication of all time.
Some of the awesome benefits include:
- Better insulin sensitivity
- Reduced stress
- Improved brain health
- Reduced risk for chronic disease
- Enhanced detoxification
- It slows the aging process
- Improved sexual function
This is why I always say that when it comes to improving your overall health and quality of life, there is literally nothing better you can do that to be as physically strong as humanly possible. And you do that through exercise.
Basically, exercise is awesome.
So, when is the best time to workout to lose weight? Believe it or not, there are actually some really bad times to workout that will actively work against your weight loss goals.
Today, i’m gonna be breaking down the 5 worst times to workout where you’re actually way better off doing something else, in order to get better results.
Who am I to tell you not to workout out?
Well, I was a competitive national level weightlifter in Canada. I hold all the records for my weight class in the province of Alberta.
I also placed second worldwide in my weight class at the Rogue Lift Off in 2017.
When is the best time to workout to lose weight? Often times, and this is based on my own personal experience. I also see this with my clients and students inside my Fat Loss Accelerator program.
There are certain times when people are working out where it’s actually working against their goals.
But before we dive in to these mistakes, you need to know a little background on what’s happening in your body when you workout.
When you workout, you’re literally creating micro tears in your muscle fibres during strength training. That’s not a bad thing.
This sends a signal to the body that it needs to go and repair those muscles.
Because the body’s default setting is that it’s healthy. It’s when you’re not working out that when this repair or muscle building happens.
Your biceps aren’t actually getting bigger when you’re doing bicep curls. Your legs and glutes aren’t getting bigger when you’re doing squats. That happens on your days off.
If you don’t give yourself that repair time, then you’re constantly just breaking down your muscles without adequate rest and repair time which brings me to mistake number one.
When Is The Best Time To Workout To Lose Weight? (Avoid These Times)
1. Don’t workout when you already have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
DOMS is defined as the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise.
It’s basically an extreme type of muscle soreness where your muscles are really broken down and need extra time to recover.
This typically happens when you start a new workout routine or you’re switching it up.
For example, if you’ve been doing lighter weights and you switch to heavy weights. Or you do something like a CrossFit style workout when your only form of physical activity before that is walking back and forth to the fridge.
You wake up the next day and it feels like you’ve been hit by a bus, twice.
It usually goes away after a day or two. But what happens when you don’t listen? Well, it’s only gonna get worse.
A few years ago, I did a 40 pull-ups in 40 seconds challenge. Needless to say, my biceps were extremely sore the next day.
But being the meat head that I was back then, I decided to work those exact same muscles the next day. The day after, I l woke up and I couldn’t straighten my arms for days. I literally had T-rex arms.
You’re gonna hear me mention this multiple times. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything physical at all.
Sometimes moving around actually helps with DOMS especially if you do some mobility work to increase blood flow throughout your muscles and the rest of your body.
2. You don’t need to workout when you already worked out earlier that day
Unless you’re an athlete, or you play competitive sports, the ROI on doing multiple workouts throughout the day is very low.
Especially if your goal is to just be healthy, lose body fat, fit better into your clothes, have that tight and toned look, or have six-pack abs.
You can achieve all those things without ever doing multiple workouts in one day. It’s completely unnecessary.
Plus, it also cuts into that recovery time that your muscles need. Your muscles and body will need that much more time to recover because you’re putting twice the amount of stress in one day.
Also, that second workout usually isn’t as intense or as effective as the first one.
This is coming from an absolute gym rat. I love training. But I’m only at the gym once a day.
At the same time, there are also other things in life outside of working out that you can focus your time and energy on. For example, starting a new hobby, spending time with your family, starting a side hustle.
What you don’t need is to double the amount of stress in your body by doing two-a-day workouts.
If you wanna double up on something, double up on making sure that your diet is on point because 80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat.
Doing multiple workouts in one day also goes against the minimum effective dose lifestyle that I preach.
If you really have the itch to do some sort of physical activity, go for a walk, go for a bike ride, or play with your kid or your dog if you have one.
And I just have to mention this. Some people do multiple workouts in one day because they’re counting calories burned during their workouts.
That is the wrong way to look at exercise.
All you need to know is that calories burned during your workout does not translate to fat burned in your body.
If you’ve been doing multiple workouts during the day and you’re not losing weight, you already know this to be true.
More isn’t always better. Think less but more intense is better. Quality over quantity.
Feel free to check out my Lean Body Blueprint: 21 Day Weight Loss Challenge if you want to know how to get started on less but better workouts.
3. Don’t workout when you’re sick
I debated whether I should include this on my list but it needs to be addressed.
When you’re sick, your body’s not a hundred percent. It’s trying to fight whatever virus or infection you’re dealing with. A lot of your body’s resources are gonna be focused on dealing with that.
Again, your body’s natural default setting is healthy. So when you get sick, getting back to healthy is its number one priority so you don’t die.
So it’s probably not gonna be the best idea to pump some iron when you’re sick. Your body is compromised.
But then I’ll hear some dummy at the gym telling people, “Just power through!” #nodaysoff
No, you’re making things worse. I’ve never met anyone who felt better after doing a workout when they’re running a fever. That’s just dumb. Who are you trying to impress?
Oftentimes, I actually see these people stop and quit mid session because they’re dying. So, don’t even try it. The gym isn’t going anywhere.
Now, what about when you’re just coming out of a cold for example. You feel better but not quite a hundred percent.
I would wait until you’re at least 90% good. Even then, I would just go and not do anything intense. Don’t attempt a new world record or anything like that. Remember, exercise is all about movement.
If you’re worried about muscle atrophy, don’t.
Here’s how it works. It’s very hard to put on lean muscle mass. Whenever you someone say they put on 15 pounds of muscle over the summer? Yeah, no. They maybe put a couple of pounds at best.
Unless they’re injecting some weird stuff in their system, it’s hard to put on real muscle mass. Which also means that it’s hard to lose it.
Your body has certain survival mechanisms that gets triggered and muscle is usually the last thing that gets used up for energy.
You have at least 100,000 calories worth of stored energy in your body in the form of body fat for crying out loud. That’s what it’s there for. It’s not just there for looks.
So get that mentality out of your head that you’re gonna lose your precious muscles if you take a couple of days off at the gym when you’re sick.
There’s even studies that shows if for some reason you don’t workout for 30 days. As long as you’re eating enough protein. you’re not gonna lose muscle mass.
4. Don’t workout when you’re stressed out of your mind
Yes, exercise can relieve stress.
But, it’s still a type of stress in itself in the body. Again, when you workout, you’re creating micro tears on your muscle fibres.
Your body then repairs those muscles when you’re resting. That repair mechanism is what makes your muscles stronger. That’s how you get bigger legs and bigger biceps.
But if you’re already under a lot of emotional or physical stress, adding an additional stressor will make it so that your body has more stress to deal with.
Again, whether you’re getting chased by a bear, you’re working out, you’re going through a break up, you’re going through financial stress, or all of the above, your body treats all those stressors the same way.
The biggest point that I’m trying to make here is when all that stress that I just mentioned becomes chronic, that’s when it gets bad. Because chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation in the body.
Systemic inflammation is the root cause of all sorts of disease including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and arthritis. Just to name a few.
Chronic stress also leads to chronically high cortisol levels, that’s your stress hormone, which leads to that all too familiar weight gain around your belly.
Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t workout. That’s not what I’m saying here. It’s the same concept that applies when you’re sick.
If stress isn’t too high, then go for a HIIT workout. Do something intense. But if you’re dealing with a lot of stress at the same time, it might be better to just focus on movement when you’re working out.
No need to set the world on fire and attempt a new world record. Or, don’t do back to back HIIT workouts on consecutive days. That way, your body has more time to deal with the other stressors in your life.
5. Don’t workout really close to bed time
When you an intense workout really close to bed time, if you do CrossFit, a Spin class, or something that really jacks up your heart rate, then that’s also gonna increase cortisol which again is your stress hormone.
Your body gets flooded with glucose, a quick burning energy, to fuel your fast pace.
But if you have high cortisol right before bed, you can effectively kiss melatonin production goodbye because you’re high strung from your workout. That’s definitely gonna affect your sleep.
Melatonin, in case you didn’t know, is your sleep hormone.
You don’t really wanna stress your body right before bed. You want to create an environment where it gets a chance to unwind and relax.
If you really wanna do something at night, you should do something that’s low intensity like going for a walk.
Going for a walk after a meal has been show to reduce the blood glucose response by up to 30%. Because you’re giving your body a chance to burn up some of the glucose from your last meal by simply moving.
The faster you can regulate your blood glucose levels, the faster you can tap into your fat burning mechanism.
If during the evening is the only chance that you get to workout, then I guess it’s better than nothing.
Just try not to do a long workout and do your workout at least 3 hours before bed.
When Is The Best Time To Workout To Lose Weight? (BONUS Tip)
Don’t workout after a bad night’s sleep.
If you’ve been following my YouTube channel, you’ll know how much I stress about the importance of sleep. None of this will work if your sleep is no good.
To keep things simple and this has been our main topic for this post, that rest and repair factor is king. And guess what? Sleep is when your body gets to do this.
One night of bad sleep isn’t the worst. It’s bound to happen from time to time. But if you’re consistently getting terrible sleep, then you need to start prioritizing it.
This is another type of stress that you’re putting in your body. It’s another thing that hinders that repair process.
Lack of sleep will also start weakening your immune system. When lack of sleep accumulates, this is when you start to get sick. Now, we’re back to the third problem.
I remember when I used to train full time as an athlete and I also part time bartended, lack of sleep was kinda self inflicted. But I still had to show up for training the next day and my body just felt broken the entire time.
Now that I’m not a competitive athlete anymore, this is what I do these days. This is what I tell all my students.
If I haven’t been getting good sleep lately and the choice is between getting an extra hour and a half of sleep, versus going to my 6 am Spin class (for example), I will always prioritize sleep.
Because you can always make up your workout at some point that day.
Again, this doesn’t mean that you should just skip the gym every time you don’t get a good night’s sleep.
When Is The Best Time To Workout? (The Key To Success)
I’m gonna leave you this awesome concept. It applies to diet as well.
If you can’t do something right, do it totally half assed. Why? Because doing it half assed is better than nothing.
For example, if you got a bad night’s sleep and you skip your morning workout. That’s fine.
Maybe you just do a 4 minute Tabata workout of squats and pushups on your lunch break. That’s better than nothing. Maybe just go for a walk if you’re really not feeling it.
Because what half ass-ing it does is it keeps that habit of exercise going. You’re not breaking it. That has so much more value than having an all or nothing attitude.
As always, if this was helpful, share it with a friend who could benefit from it as well!
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