1980 Olympics. We stayed home, not by choice of the athletes. Winners train whenever they can.
I have been beginning my workouts at 5:00 am for nearly 40 years. The article below which I saw on the STACK site pretty well sums up my experience. As a student at BYU in 1974, I heard the late Stephen Covey teach his 7 principles long before he published them and began his legendary business. I remember him teaching about sharpening the saw and beginning each day with a victory. The victory of the spirit over the body in getting out of bed and moving. It rang true to me although I had already had that habit for most of my life. A few years later, when I married, I found that morning hours were the one time I could squeeze time to workout without taking time from my family. I love the feeling of starting my day with a great workout. It makes the rest of my day go so much better. I have to admit that even after decades of this routine, I am still not at my strongest in the mornings. In the rare times when I do workout later in the day, I find I am stronger. But it's all relative. When I was still competing I found that I could always plan on adding 10 kg. or so to whatever I was doing in training. So, while I was weaker in the mornings, I still improved and got stronger. When I lifted in the afternoon I could do more. It's also important to give your spine a chance to "wakeup" before you start heavy lifting. A quick warmup routine works well. If you are a busy person, look at early morning workouts as a real option.
The best time of day to work out is first thing in the morning.
There, I said it.
No, it's not because you'll burn more fat in the morning than you would later in the day. And no, it's not because you'll build more muscle than you would with an evening workout. In fact, I have no scientific evidence to back my statement (none that I researched, anyway). My reasoning has nothing to do with physiology, but everything to do with psychology. I can't definitively tell you that a morning workout will give you a stronger body, but I can tell you that it will make you a stronger person. Let me explain.
Strengthen Your Discipline
Waking up early is hard. Waking up early to go to the gym and get under a heavy barbell is even harder. So why do it? You do it because it makes you a more disciplined person.
Self-discipline, itself, is like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it becomes. Therefore, the more you do something that challenges you, the easier other challenging tasks become. So by facing small bits of adversity every day—like rolling out of bed and heading straight to the gym—the more prepared you will be for the curveballs that life is bound to throw at you later that day or in the future.
Start with a Win
Momentum has an enormous effect on the outcome of our day, and ultimately, our weeks and months. One good thing leads to another, then another, then another, and pretty soon all the dominoes start falling. The compound effect begins to take place, and the positive momentum starts roaring like a freight train with no breaks. Working out every morning is a surefire way to guarantee that you start with a win and get that positive momentum working in your favor.
Think about it, if you complete a workout first thing in the morning are you going to pick up a few donuts for breakfast on the way to work? I doubt it. Instead, you'll opt for the eggs and oatmeal. That positive momentum will most definitely spill over into other aspects of your life as well, making you more task-oriented, productive and engaged.
By waking up early to work out, you set yourself apart from the crowd. The roads are quiet and the gym is empty. Your "competition" is still tucked in bed. But not you. You're going to work.
If you're able to complete a full workout before your peers or co-workers even open their eyes, then you're already having a more productive day. You're winning. While they're still at home making their morning coffee, trying to force themselves awake, you're wide-eyed, full of endorphins and ready to take on the day. At first, that extra hour or two may seem insignificant, but over time, the gap between you and them will widen.
Fewer Distractions and Excuses
Here is a list of things that don't happen at 5 a.m.: traffic, crowded gyms, staying late at work to make a deadline, happy hour, anniversary dinners, your child's tee-ball game, Monday Night Football—Need I go on? All of these excuses, many of which I've taken from personal experience, can sabotage an evening workout. But those excuses don't exist in the morning.
Morning workouts eliminate the possibility of any work, family or social distractions getting in the way. Throughout the day, good or bad, things will happen. Those things often turn into "I can't work out today because…" or "I don't feel like it today because…". Morning gym-goers don't open themselves up to those excuses. Get your workout in first thing every day, when the rest of the world is still quiet and when you can give your full attention to the task at hand.
There you have it. That's why you should work out first thing in the morning. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, morning workouts don't have any secret anabolic properties or significant fat burning effects. And ultimately, the absolute best time to work out is whenever you can make it happen consistently.
However, morning workouts do have the ability to create positive change in other aspects of your life. They will make you more disciplined, more productive and more engaged.
So set your alarm an hour or two earlier and give it a try. Before you know it, you'll be a morning person too.
No bad time to get stronger.