When you’ve been around the fitness community for years, you’ll eventually start thinking about little details that you assume to matter.
If you put five “gurus” in the same room, you’ll get five different opinions about the best time to workout.
Some people swear by lifting first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (also called fasted lifting).
Other’s believe that you should lift after a small meal.
And you’ll hear opinions from experts claiming that evening workouts before bed are the best.
So who’s right?
Which workout schedule should you commit to in order to give your body the best chance of building muscle mass?
Read on to learn the truth and settle this matter for good.
If Your Focus Is On Strength…
Again, everything I’m going to tell you should be taken with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your own persoanl preference.
With that said, there have been studies that suggest that your body is generally weaker in the mornings than later in the day. But, as I just said, you need to figure out what time works best for you.
I know for myself that I get my best workouts late in the evenings. Why? Because I’m generally a night owl. When I workout after I’ve been up for several hours, I get my best lifts in.
I don’t like being a night owl, but when I force myself to wake up at 7am, I still generally wait 5-6 hours before I hit the gym. This way, I’ve fueled my body with a couple of meals and usually have the energy to get a great workout in.
Either way, many studies have been performed over the past few decades about fitness performance throughout the day. Generally speaking, working later in the day is better if your focus in on strength.
You don’t need a large caloric surplus to build muscle.
I can’t stress this enough for you natural lifters out there. Lean Warriors is about building enough muscle and then dieting down to a lean physique. Stop trying to look like your favorite “natural” instagram celeb. Most of these guys are on drugs despite what they say.
Just focus on getting lean and shredded. You’ll look amazing regardless, and you can put on size afterwards.
Another important fact about workout schedule is that your body will get used to you hitting the gym at a certain time. You’re building a habit. and programming your brain to expect workouts at certain times of the day.
The more you go at a certain time, the easier your workouts will become. Find a time that works best for you and stick with it.
I try to avoid the gym anytime between 4-8pm. Why? Because it’s crowded! All the barbells and benches are being used. There’s too many people trying to show off and get attention. It’s annoying as hell and I would rather avoid that. I like to hit the gym at off hours so the weights are free to use.
If Your Goal Is To Build Muscle…
It’s important that you stop worrying about hormones or testosterone levels when it comes to your workout schedule. If you’re a natural lifter, you’ve got to work with what you got.
Since I’m not here to help non-natural lifters (and they don’t need my help), it’s important you accept your body as it is.
Avoid testosterone boosting supplements.
I can’t stress this enough. The ONLY time you should be taking testosterone boosters is if your doctor has prescribed them to you. Don’t go buying supplements on Amazon or other websites.
If you don’t believe me, feel free to checkout this study which states that hormone fluctuations don’t really matter for building muscle.
You want to keep your fitness lifestyle as simple as possible. Eat correctly, stick to a routine that hits all of your muscle groups at least once per week, and progress in your lifts over several months.
You will build muscle when you do this.
The time of day that you hit the gym only matters when it comes to your progression. If you make better progress in the evenings, which is highly likely, then keep going in the evenings.
However, if you generally have no motivation to hit the gym after work, then try to fit it in either before work or during lunch.
You don’t need to lift heavy to build muscle. While I highly recommend that you do include some heavy lifting in your workouts, you can still build muscle with higher rep training.
So don’t get obsessed over strength. It’s better to avoid injuries than push your body to it’s limits. This way, you avoid injury and can hit the gym consistently for years on end. This is a big part to building a great physique.
Yes, I said years. Welcome to lifting as a natural. I’ve been lifting for over 5 years and my body has generally been the same for 3+ years. Why? Because your muscles have natural limits to the size they can get.
Once they reach a certain size naturally, they won’t grow much anymore. You’ll just get fatter if you continue on a bulk.
Therefore, it’s important to focus on being lean. That’s what this website is about, afterall. Get lean and then you’ll see how great you look even if your muscles aren’t that large (and they never will get large without drugs. Sorry to burst your bubble. All those Youtube and Instagram “gurus” that claim natural are lying to you. Lying is how they keep the money flowing).
But Fitness “Experts” Recommend Fasted Morning Workouts…
First of all, what the hell is a fitness expert? Someone who can count calories and macros? Someone who trains other people or celebrities?
The truth is that it doesn’t take much to be an expert in fitness and nutrition.
It’s not complicated to burn fat or build muscle.
But the experts want to make it as confusing as possible. This is why everyone seems to have their own “new” workout routine that’s “guaranteed” to build the most muscle or lose weight.
It’s easy money. Just look at all the small studios that are opening on every corner. People are willing to pay $150 per month to lose weight through intense workouts.
Little do these people know, you can lose weight without any cardio whatsoever. Cardio helps increase your caloric deficit. That’s it. But, if you’re eating the right amount of foods every single day, you’ll burn fat without cardio.
With that said, I still recommend 2-3 HIIT workouts per week for heart health. These intense workouts have also been shown to improve your metabolism.
The good news is you can do HIIT in your own living room. You don’t need to be shelling out a bunch of money for cycle classes.
As for fasted morning workouts? Again, it depends on the individual.
If you feel like you perform well in the gym with an empty stomach, then by all means go for it.
For me, as a natural lifter, I don’t feel great when I lift fasted. I also don’t want to do anything that might cause me to lose muscle mass. Therefore, I’d rather eat and fuel up before lifting weights.
PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) are extremely popular these days because they help you build muscle and size regardless of the time you workout. You don’t even need to lift hard or heavy to gain weights. In fact, people on PEDs have an insane advantage over natural lifters. It’s why so many athletes and celebrities use them. You can get amazing results in just a few short month.
The funniest fake natural I saw on Instagram lately was a guy claiming to have gained all his muscle from creatine. Made me laugh out loud. But sadly, thousands of his followers will believe him and buy his creatine supplement.
Heres’ the truth to workout schedules: a natural, normal person like yourself should hit the gym and workout when you feel you can perform at your best.
Go to the gym when you’re feeling good mentally. Sometimes I lose a lot of motivation to hit the gym. So, I’ll have some caffeine and watch Youtube videos to get me inspired once again.
Do whatever it takes to get you motivated. Stepping into the gym is all that really matters. Don’t worry about the time or day, or fasted cardio, or what some idiot “expert” told you is best.
Chances are, they’re trying to sell you something and don’t really care whether you build any muscle or not.
What’s your favorite time to workout? Do you have a favorite schedule that you perform best with?