Don’t let the clock diminish your ability to get leaner, bigger and stronger. Use our guide to figure out the what, when and why of timing your exercises to perfection.

You can actually psychologically trick your body into performing better, not by training harder, but by doing the right training at the right time. This notion is supported by new research at Northumbria University, UK, that discovered participants burned up to 20% more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach. Here are the other types of exercise you should be doing to get a psychological boost from your body rhythms.


Train for stamina and fat burning: 6am

Learn how to own that snooze button. Hide the alarm clock or put it under your bed to force yourself to get out from under the covers. You’ll be duly rewarded, because research in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that your body temperature is significantly lower in the morning.

Fire up the coffee because this drop in body temperature means you’ll be able to exercise longer before your rising core body temperature. This instant performance improvement will help you shake the sleep from your eyes and start frying calories. As per the prior study, if you can train on an empty stomach, you’ll get leaner even faster.


Train for more endurance: 12–4pm

The afternoon is the middle ground between your strength slump in the morning and its peak in the afternoon. Fortunately, your body compensates by upping your aerobic capacity by 4%, according to research at the University of North Texas. However, that’s not the only advantage you’ll get, because research by the American Physiological Society found people who used an interval-style training technique reported faster times starting from 11am, which improved as the afternoon progressed. It seems that you need to give your body a little time to wake up before it’s willing to start peaking.

If you’re looking to burn fat and can only train at this time, take advantage of this endurance kick by doing short circuit training or interval runs that will dramatically improve your performance.


Time to train for power: 6–9pm

Even though you’re fresh off the grind and may be feeling a little spent, you’re still stronger after work than you are before you punch in. Research in Clinical Therapy found strength is maximized between 5–7pm. This isn’t an isolated incident, because a further study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found this increase in power has the potential to be as much as 7–10% more than when the same exercise is done in the morning. If you’re trying to give your muscle power a quick boost, then simply do your gym sessions after work, and your muscles will get more exertion thanks to the heavier weights you’ll use.


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