Best time to go to the gym: A beginners guide

This is a drawing of a man confused on what time to go to the gym

Best time to go to the gym

Morning / Lunchtime / After Work

The best time to go to the gym is morning workouts, before work. Morning workouts are better than the evening because your body burns more calories throughout your day and there are fewer reasons to not get your workout in at that time. Set your alarm and start a new routine.

Here is the Best time to go to the gym: A beginners guide.

In this blog I am going to help you understand what the best time to go to the gym is and give you the reasons why. When you are finished reading this you will have all the information needed to confidently set the time for your new workout routine.

With so much happening in the World, it is more important than ever to take care of your health. One of the best ways to do this is with regular exercise. It might seem like too hard a task to start, not knowing how long it will take to feel comfortable in your new exercise focus, that’s why we created this blog for you that dives into how long it will take you to get in shape and feel confident in your new lifestyle.

According to the National Institutes of Health and the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine aerobic exercise and strength training are linked to a reduction in depression and anxiety. Working out also improves cognition, sleep quality, and self-esteem among many other factors. 

Most of us know that working out is good, but what time of day should you go to the gym?

Research has found that working out at certain times gives you an edge at the office whereas working out at other times takes advantage of peak physical performance. 

While your mental health certainly reaps advantages, so does your emotional health and physical health. As you can imagine, different types of health are inherently tethered to one another. This means that your emotional and physical health can impact your mental health and vice versa. For these reasons, getting regular exercise can only help you. Finding the motivation to work out regularly can be difficult, let us help you.

Fall has returned and with it comes an increase in gym-goers with pre-holiday fitness goals. Let’s face it, crowded gyms suck. There are seasonal as well as cultural reasons for a busy gym and you might have to deal with more than the usual equipment hog or time crunch. Not to worry, as a personal trainer I’ve found ways to create results in any environment.  


Best time to go to the gym

  • For early risers: 6am
  • For entrepreneurs: 10am-2pm
  • For 9-5 workers: 6am-9pm

The best time to go to the gym depends on a few factors, including your personal preference and schedule. 

At the end of the day, the best time to workout is when you can. But, I want to make a note about consistency because while it’s great to go when you can, it’s even better to go at the time(s) that will help you create a routine.   

Research also suggests that the body can adapt to regular training schedules, so if you need to adjust your schedule and stick to that adjustment you’ll see results faster. All times of day have their benefits and drawbacks as shown by decades of scientific research – let’s dive in!

Is it better to go to the gym in the morning or at night?

For overall mental and physical health positives it is clear that working out in the morning will lead to more changes in your mind and body. The act of working out before your day begins will positively affect your choices the rest of the day, plus the serotonin and other positive chemicals released during your morning workout will last throughout the day.

What time of day is the gym least crowded?

To avoid crowds at your local gym, these will be the least crowded hours to workout.

  • 6:00am – Before the pre work crowd just after the gym opens
  • 10:00am – After the pre work crowd but before the lunch crowd
  • 2:00pm – After the lunch crowd
  • 3:00pm – After the lunch crowd but before the post work crowd
  • 9:00pm – After the post work crowd just before the gym closes

Most big box gyms will follow a cycle of peak and trough hours that revolve around the 9-5 working day. That means that big gyms will be busiest in the morning with the early birds coming in between 7am and 10am, then there’s a lunch crowd from 11:30am-1:30pm, and finally there’s the evening crew who come in from 4:30pm -7:00pm.

If you have to go at a busier time it will be helpful to understand the etiquette that your fellow gym goers follow. By doing so, you will feel more comfortable and also be more efficient in your work time.

Best time to go to the gym breakldown

Now that you know the best times to go to the gym to beat the crowds and give your health and happiness the best chance to succeed, I am going to breakdown each time further.

While your at the gym you will want to have a plan on how many exercises to do each session, I have you covered in this blog explaining how many exercises per workout.

Morning workout
 

A morning workout is between 5am and 10am and if you’re like me and struggle to find the energy to workout after a hectic work day, then the morning could be your ticket to workout success! The morning is a great time to put yourself first. You can’t skip it like evening workouts when work duties tend to pile up. 

Research is showing that morning workouts may provide the most benefits over all other times of the day. 

There are many more positive benefits for morning workouts than drawbacks. You can also lose fat faster, sleep better, improve metabolism, lower blood pressure and risk of diabetes, overcome procrastination and more.  I have never regretted a morning workout once it is over. They make me feel accomplished, energized and motivated to make better decisions for the rest of the day.

An emotional boost to your day

If you’re a little groggy and cranky first thing, a morning workout will act like a switch to shift you into a more positive vibration.



When we workout, our brains release the hormones serotonin and dopamine as well as endorphins and other neurotransmitters which are in charge of making the brain feel happy. Dopamine is associated with whatever makes us feel good and the neat thing is that dopamine is primarily released when we exercise so why not get an emotional boost to start the day!

More energy throughout your day

Several studies have found that workouts directly impact the central nervous system by boosting energy and reducing fatigue. 

Findings from a study by researchers at the University of Georgia found that regular low-intensity exercise like a walk or light jog can boost energy levels by 20 percent and decrease fatigue by 65 percent. 

Morning exercise is like a natural energy supplement because it improves blood flow and helps bring oxygen and nutrients to muscles. The result is increased energy levels in the body. 

Findings from several studies suggest that exercise directly impacts the central nervous system by boosting energy and reducing fatigue.

Morning workout negatives

Morning workouts aren’t without their challenges. You may be more stiff in the morning as your core temperature isn’t fully ramped. Your performance may be slightly less optimized because of a lower core temperature as well as other factors such as energy levels. Some of us just aren’t hungry first thing and working out on an empty stomach or a smaller meal can be challenging. 

Be sure to focus on your warm-up and try to get at least some water and a bit of protein into your system before a morning workout.  You may also need to prepare a bit the night before in case you forget to bring something for the rest of the day. You name it and I’ve forgotten it because of a morning workout! 

How to prepare for your morning workout

Deciding to workout right after working out can take some getting used to. Preparing the night before is a good start to any new workout routine. Here are three more tips to help you succeed in your new early morning workout routine.

Write down your goals and reasons

Neuroscience explains how writing helps us achieve our goals in two ways: external storage and encoding. External storage means there’s a physical piece of paper or book that you can reference to remind you. Encoding is the biological process of storing things in our long term memory. Writing improves the encoding process and gives you a much better changes of remembering to do the thing..Maybe Ask a friend to join you for accountability to get up!

Eating is optional

If your plan is to gain muscle and strength then it may be helpful to give your brain and body a bit of fuel before a morning workout. If you want to lose weight there’s less need to fuel up assuming you can tolerate working out on an empty stomach. 
If your unsure of when you should eat or when you need to take the ever so important protein, let us help you choose if it should be before or after your workout.

Skip the intense pre-workout supplement


Go for a gentler option like coffee or green tea. I’m not here to frown on pre-workouts but they tend to get a little carried away with the stimulants and sugar content. Your body is going to wake up naturally  from the warm-up exercises and a small jolt is plenty. 


Lunchtime workout 



A lunchtime workout is between 11am and 1pm. The lunch time workout can be an efficient way to check all the boxes on your goal.  Whether you’re nervous about a presentation or a round table brainstorm, a quick 30 or 45-minute midday workout can be surprisingly therapeutic and rejuvenating.

The lunch workout could be perfect for you if you want to start a new routine without having to get up early or lose your evenings. Your body will be nice and warm and you will never miss your always important post workout meal!  

Relieve tension and pain


Exercise is clinically proven to relieve muscle and joint tension and even reduce the severity of chronic pain.If you’re riding a desk all day or performing a lot or repetitive tasks, a workout can go a long way to breaking up holding patterns and relieving stiffness.

De-stress

According to Harvard Medical School, exercise “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. It’s a common experience among endurance athletes and has been verified in clinical trials that have successfully used exercise to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression. If athletes and patients can derive psychological benefits from exercise, so can you.”


Deadlines and team zoom meetings bring a lot of stress. A midday workout could be just the thing to gain an endorphin boost and  diffuse some of the day’s tension.

Lunchtime workout negatives

You might feel rushed. Unless the gym is close by or in the building the lunch time workout can feel rushed. If you are committing to this workout I’d recommend keeping it to 30 mins and hitting it with focus. You’ll be able to get a lot done and reap all the benefits of the sweat. 

Co-workers may disapprove. This happened to me and it was unexpected. Your choice to be active for the betterment of your health may go against choices of others at your work. If this happens, remember you are in this journey for YOU, not them.

How to prepare for your lunchtime workout

Eat before hand. Regardless of the goal your blood sugar should be sufficient to push boundaries and maximize your time in the gym. You can’t be at your best if  you’re battling dehydration headaches or dizzy spells.

Pack your gym gear and a towel to dry off with after your shower, the night before in your day bag. Doing this will make sure you get your workout done, and no unexpected excuses will come up.

After work workout

An after work workout is between 4pm and 7pm. You may want to look forward to your workout as a bit of personal care time before heading home for the evening. When done consistently, the after work workout is an excellent way to create a new routine. By placing the gym between you and home you’ll be able to settle into your evening routine feeling accomplished.

Working out after work can also break the habit of overeating before bed. A new study in the Journal of  Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that mentally exhausted people who workout for 15 minutes at the end of the day had an easier time saying no to the comfort food afterward. They saved an average of 125 calories compared to those who rested up, and even 25 calories more than the folks who didn’t exert any physical or mental energy.

Better nighttime choices


Let’s face it, we feel good after working out and that makes us want to take better care and go the extra mile. If you have a hard time with late night snacking or dinner time binge eating, the after work workout could be a great way to help you say yes to healthier alternatives. 


Relieve stress


Whether it’s presentations, deadlines, or some other work related stress your after work workout will turn your whole mood around. Try a cardio based circuit or some light weight training to get an endorphin boost without waking up too much ahead of bed time. 

After work workout negatives 

One common problem training after work is that the workouts tend to get skipped. Your hustle might make you a little tired and the last thing you want to do is workout after a long day, I get it. This time of day isn’t for you if you miss more than a handful of workouts because “things got busy” you’ll be much better served finding another time and sticking to that. 

You’ll also want to watch out for the training effect in the evening affecting your sleep. Working out so close to bedtime can affect your ability to wind-down, leading to you laying in bed staring at the ceiling. This does not happen to everyone, and the type of workout has a lot to play in this. I suggest you try a few workouts closer to bedtime and see how it affects you, if at all.

How to prepare for your after work workout

The best way to get ready for this workout is to eat your lunch and maybe have an apple or some other light snack about an hour before the workout. You’ll most likely be eating dinner following this one so no need to overthink the pre workout meal. 

Before bed workout

A before bed workout is between 8pm and closing of the gym. For the longest time it was assumed that workouts before bed will keep you up or lessen sleep quality. But according to new research, doing moderate-intensity exercise within 60 to 90 minutes of bedtime does not affect your ability to have a good night’s sleep. 

This is a great way to start small and get momentum because the workouts don’t even need to be in a gym. Night time workouts are supposed to be a little more chill so you can get going without much knowledge or equipment. If you’re just getting started, I’d recommend starting with mobility routines and then graduating to body weight strength workouts because you can get a lot done in 15-30mins with those modalities. 

Habit forming

There’s nothing in the way of a before bed workout and it is never going to be at a high intensity so you’ll be feeling great before turning in for the night. You don’t need to do much because consistency will do the heavy lifting for you. Try things like mobility routines, yoga, light weight training and walking to get your before bed routine rocking.

Before bed workout negatives

You’ll need to be mindful of the intensity.  You will feel great and may be tempted to push a little harder as time goes on but remember that doing more vigorous intensity will cost you when it comes time to sleep. 

You’ll also want to make sure that this workout time is going to be your routine. If it’s not set up as a routine it will be easy to skip it because you’re too cozy on the couch or tired from the work day. Schedule it, make it non-negotiable, tell a friend, do whatever you have to in order to make it happen.  

How to prepare for your before bed workout

You’ll most likely be at home for this workout so you may need to get your hands on some workout gear. If you’re heading down to the gym in your building it can also help to book in advance so you don’t miss out. Chances are high that you’ll have some food in your system but be sure to eat an hour ahead and skip the caffeine filled pre-workout nonsense.

In general, if you’re going to exercise at night, it’s best to do light to moderate-intensity activity. This level of activity may help you fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep.

It’s also important to complete your workout at least 1 hour before bedtime. If possible, aim to finish at least 90 minutes before you head to bed. This will give your body enough time to wind down.

Best time to go to the gym conclusion

In the end, the best time to go to the gym is in the morning before your work.

Anything new seems impossible and ‘too hard’ to do. But it is amazing what can be done if you set your mind to it and work on changing your habits, to find new ways to succeed.

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