Timing Your Workouts for Maximum Gain

By Martijn Koevoets, Powerlifting University

Timing Your Workouts for Gains

Circadian rhythm 101

Your circadian rhythm is a daily cycle of biological activity.

The biological activity with the most obvious circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake cycle.

Think of your body as having an internal clock that regulates when to activate every system in your body. Including hormone production and central nervous system activity.

Below are some examples of biochemical and physiological events with a 24-hour biorhythm.

Clock times are relative to your lifestyle and environment. Most importantly when you sleep and work.

Think of the clock times as averages for a regular Joe in the US that works 9 to 5 and sleeps 12 to 8.

When working in shifts then the hours change, but the order of events stays the same.

Keep this in mind for later.

Maxing out on testosterone

Everyone knows that high testosterone levels are anabolic, and a big plus to build muscle and strength.

Cortisol has catabolic effects. High levels of cortisol are “no bueno” for muscle and strength building.

Testosterone production is high at night and low during the day.

Cortisol output is low at night, rises during awakening and then decreases over the course of the day.

This suggests that training in the evening is best. Your testosterone will be rising, while your cortisol levels are dropping.

Again, when I say evening I mean late relative to your wake/sleep cycle.

Another important factor is your…

Core body temperature

Core body temperature is the temperature at which your central organs operate.

High core body temperatures improve the speed your nerves fire, joint mobility, and muscle blood flow.

Most people can achieve higher muscle activation levels in the evening compared to the morning.

People are strongest when their core body temperature reaches its daily peak.

Core body temperature is low at night, then rises quickly when you wake and maxes out in the evening.

This means that the best time to workout is late afternoon to early evening. Again relative to your wake/sleep cycle.

The best time to work out

Based on the circadian rhythm of your hormones and your core body temperature, the best time to workout is between 14:30 and 20:30… If you have a normal biorhythm and sleep during the night from roughly 12:00 – 08:00.

But what when you’re working in shifts?

In that case, it’s recommended to wait at least 6 hours after waking up before training.

Remember: This is a general rule. If you know there’s a certain time where you perform your best, then go with that.

More reading

How To Double The Gains You’re Currently Making

Finally, Learn How To Create Highly Effective Training Programs


* Originally published in the October 17, 2017, newsletter of the Powerlifting University; to join, visit https://powerliftinguniversity.com

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Martijn Koevoets

Martijn Koevoets

Powerlifter, Author, Blogger, & Online Coach at Powerlifting University
Martijn describes himself as a Powerlifter, Author, Blogger, Online Coach & Extreme Metal Aficionado...who loves a good whiskey. He shares that he was bitten by the iron bug ever since the embarrassing moment in high school when he couldn't bench the 45lbs bar. Despite not having the "greatest genetics in the world," However, through "pig-headed determination," Martijn has been able to put some quality muscle and good numbers up at powerlifting meets. Finally, he has discovered what works and what doesn't and shares it with his audience and clients in his blog, website, training guidance, and books.
Martijn Koevoets

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