Morning vs night training?


#1

Like most, I have a pretty busy schedule. Leave for work at 8am, home around 7pm. Tack on a 15 month old, and my day is basically booked from 7am-8pm (on a good day.)

So, my options are either really early (wake up 5am, on bike by 5:30) or late (after 830pm dinner). I’m a night owl, but waiting for dinner to settle means not getting on the bike until 1030 or so.

So, is there a particular advantage or disadvantage to super late or super early? How should I deal with nutrition? Am I better off trying to sneak in an 830pm ride followed directly by dinner?

Thanks!
JB


#2

Highly individual, but out of super early or super late, I would go for super early. By the time a long day is behind me, my motivation to rip my legs off late at night diminishes quickly. With early morning, I have my workout done before most people wake up and I’m pumped for the day.

I’d be looking to cut down my pre-bike time though. I’d be getting all my bike and kit ready the night before, alarm goes off and I’m on the bike 5 mins later. Most rides are 60-90 mins long mid-week, which I find very doable without any nutrition prior.

There’s a pretty deep thread here that’s worth checking out too:


#3

For me, rides starting at 8ish mean I’m not sleeping well. So morning is my preference, and I’m not a morning person.


#4

:face_vomiting:

But seriously…I am so not a morning person, never have been but if I had to choose between the two I’d go for the early morning workout.

  1. even though you just woke up…you just woke up. Your brain and body have had at least a few hours of intense rest and healing vs at the very end of your day when everything is completely messed up.

  2. your day is still blank/fresh when it’s still dark out; as above, a workout at the end of the day is bogged down by 12 hours of stresses.

  3. if you do the workout first thing in your day, it’s done, even if you waffle it a bit. Depending on how your day goes, you may have to ditch your PM ride.

  4. it gives you some solid family time at the end of your day. What’s worth more – your workout or your family? :wink:


#5

@Captain_Doughnutman your post made me laugh a little, because I’ve always been a morning person. Before buying a road bike I started doing spin classes at 5am, and I loved getting a morning workout in before others were even awake.

But I gotta be honest, it takes me over an hour to warm up on those 7:30 or 8am group rides. So quality training rides in the AM are really tough. And over the years I came to love after work rides, because all the aggression/stress of the day is channeled into the workout and I’m human again by the time my wife gets home. Even the kids noticed the difference.


#6

I’m recently in the same boat, and traveling on top of long work hours.

When I’m traveling, I get up early and do an easy ride on the gym bike, fasted, 60-90 mins, 65-70% FTP.

When I’m at home, I jump on the trainer in the hour before dinner and do a higher intensity ride, usually, VO2 max intervals. I wouldn’t be able to do these intense intervals early in the morning, so do them in the evening instead.


#7

@jb007 I hear ya on letting dinner settle… is there a potential for you to eat much much lighter for that meal and go bigger on your midday meal? Generally recognised as a good way to manage your nutrition and I’ve found that approach means I train better in the evening, sleep better and wake up better! And keep on top of weight better.

But the social ‘dinner time’ meal with family is of course also an important one, and this kind of approach often means imposing your workout routine on your family’s lives…


#8

I’m in the same boat too, except I have to be out of the door a bit earlier and I have a 2 yr old. Evening time is family time. I get home at about 6pm and see my son while the wife sorts dinner. We all eat, son goes to bed then my wife and I chat about our days, watch a bit of TV and go to bed. The last thing I want to do on an evening is train; firstly its my down time, I need to chill; secondly, heaven forbid pissing the wife off!

So its mornings. I was getting up at 0530 but even that was too much rushing so recently I’ve started getting up at 0500 and its working and I feel great!


#9

Another vote for am for all the reasons listed above. One other thing though, I find it really hard to fall asleep at night immediately after a trainer session. That is never a problem if I’ve woken up early for a morning session :sleeping:


#10

Morning for me. I just don’t have the motivation and you only get out, what you put in.

Add to that the fact that my garage is freezing cold in the morning, I’m prepared to work harder just to warm up!


#11

I can’t do early morning as my children are early risers and that means my wife would have to look after both.

I often train in the evening (once the older child is asleep) and do so around 1.5 - 2hrs after my main meal. That means starting anywhere between 8 and 9pm. Thankfully I don’t get any stomach upset on the short turnaround.


#12

Another vote for mornings.

Starting a training session at 10:30pm, after a full day, is not wise. Both the quality of workout and SLEEP will suffer. Just arrange your schedule to get up earlier (4-4:15am) and get the session in when fresh.


#13

Given your time constraints I think morning sounds best. If you could get on the bike before dinner then I’d suggest that - but if your only evening option is post-meal then morning is likely a much better habit to cultivate


#14

Lol :joy: as easy as that!

We are all different is what we are demonstrating. I can push and hurt myself but I cannot get up at 4-5am in the mornings to work out. Love doing it in evenings.

Home for 6ish. Dinner. Rest and catch up with my wife for an hour or 90mins. On bike around 8 for however long the workout is. Quick shower and then maybe an hour of tv before bed. That hour feels so good having been busy all day at work and worked out in the evening. Get a little bit of my dinner repeating but manageable. Would rather do this than make my wife wait to eat dinner later.

But again - everyone has a different nature and circumstance.


#15

I tryed the morning thing several times and it only worked for me witch recovery rides.
Motivation can be a problem in the evening, but I noticed that this is mostly an energetic problem. After eating/drinking a bit, my motivation returns and I can nail my workouts.


#16

From my experience I would say to do the workouts when ever you are most likely to consistently do them.

I do mine first thing in the morning as that’s what fits best with work/family, but I do my openers for CX races in the late afternoon or early evening. There’s no doubt that my performance is way better in the afternoon, and the workouts are more enjoyable (as much as they can be) but I know that I’d never stick to the training plan if I didn’t workout in the morning.


#17

I’ve always naturally been a night owl and for years (and years) I did all my training after 9pm (usually to 11pm or later). Living in NYC it always felt easier as it was quieter, cooler and I had the parks to myself.

Last year I switch myself to a morning person. What a world of difference all around. When I did this I wasn’t even thinking about maximizing training, I mostly did it to be more productive. However, specific to training I have noticed the following;

  • I’m up at 5 daily, on the bike by 5:30-6am (depending on workout). Once my body adjusted to this schedule I found my motivation to be much higher to tackle a tough workout (as opposed to trying to get myself going at 9pm).
  • My rides are better. I’m a solo rider, I have always trained solo. That is partly since I’d ride at night but also due to my cycling being “my time”.However the mornings, in the NYC parks (Prospect and Central)are bonkers for fast riders. Sure Strava opens toe door to KOMs and seeing where you stand in that world…but riding among fast riders ups your game much more (not racing, but riding with). So every outdoor morning ride I have many people that help me ride harder and faster. This is very specific to NYC, but most places have more fast groups and riders out in the mornings. For indoor workouts this doesn’t matter.
  • Nutrition is WAY easier. Both pre and post workout. I can do workouts in a true fasted state, or I can have some fruit, or just coffee + toast, etc…it all depends on what my goal is for that day (90% I do my workouts fasted though). Post workout, recovery shakes and or meal (breakfast) timing can be maximized very easily (something that I could never do finishing late at night and not wanting to eat before bed).
  • My sleep has improved significantly. I found that 6 hours is the sweet spot for nightly sleep for me. When I’d get in from a workout around 11, shower and try to relax, to be asleep by 12:30’ish…I’d usually have some type of insomnia after a while. Mysleep was a mess and mornings were always brutal. Not anymore. I’m in beed by 10:30pm now and am usually asleep within minutes now. My alarm still wakes me in the AM, but it’s never brutal like it used to be.
  • A good workout or pushing through a hard workout (good or bad outcome) sets me up for a good day ahead. Feeling accomplished is huge. Seems small but it’s turning out to be a big deal.

#18

Been a night owl forever. In the military we flew mostly nights on missions so it’s ingrained. Now I use cycling to make me stop working, otherwise I will just fall asleep at the computer. I don’t have any problem sleeping anywhere at any time as some do, but I do go thru a cool-down and calming period before I go to bed. I also have the flexibility to be at work at 10 am so it helps that I can sleep late. I just can’t motivate myself to do mornings unless it’s a group ride to work which I have found is more fun but not nearly as productive as a ride on the trainer.


#19

There’s no “easy” solution. Can I carry on my life without any changes and yet add X hrs of training in?

No, you can’t.

There are some tricks though - my favourite is commute time (cycle to work), and lunchtime (I’ve seen guys bring a turbo to work and sweat in the car park). This is ‘stealth’ training because you don’t have to sacrifice much.

Otherwise it’s rise earlier or go to bed later. Personally I m trying to respect the seasons - I’m awake at 4 but can’t face the pitch black 2°C garage. So I’m training at lunchtimes and sneak in after work before going into the family.

Then there’s weekends… so it can be done :slight_smile:


#20

Thanks a bunch everything you said was right in point. Thanks a lot