If your goal for 2020 is to exercise more, you might be wondering exactly what the best workout for you is – and how to make the most of the limited time you have. Depending on your body clock – whether you’re an early riser or a night owl – you could find that you have more success by switching up your usual gym routine.
We spoke with Dr. Kianoush Missaghi, Training Specialist at Leading Fitness App Freeletics, about the best time to exercise efficiently – so you can spend less time in the gym, and more catching up on winter Love Island…
What is the best workout to do first thing in the morning and why?
Most consider working out first thing in the morning the best way to begin an exercise regime, and they wouldn’t be wrong – if you can manage to make it out of bed early, that is. “Morning workouts are an excellent way to kickstart the day, wake up your muscles and get blood pumping around your body,” says Dr. Kianoush. So – you guessed is – cardio is the way to go.
“One of the best morning workouts would be going for a run, jog or brisk walk which will get your heart rate up and jumpstart your metabolism and calorie burning potential.
However, Dr. Kianoush says you shouldn’t rush into it. “Running is quite a demanding exercise, and your muscles can be stiffer following a good night’s sleep; for that reason, it’s important that you warm up properly to prevent injury.”
“You may also be likely to workout in the morning on an empty stomach, and for that reason, low intensity cardiovascular exercise is recommended as your body won’t draw energy from your muscles, which could result in a loss of muscle mass. Instead, this type of workout will burn fat for energy, which is beneficial for weight/fat loss.
“The endorphins and adrenalin that flows through your body post-run can also help to wake you up, put you in a good mood, and set the tone for the rest of day.”
What’s the best workout to do at lunchtime and why?
A HIIT workout
“If you’re a lunch time exerciser it’s likely you’ll be short on time, squeezing in a workout during the working day or in between running errands,” says Dr. Kianoush. “For that reason, a short, sharp full-body HIIT workout is a good idea.
“HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, a training method which involves short bursts of all-out effort exercises followed by short periods of rest. The aim is to maximise your calorie burn, raising your heart rate quickly, before recovering briefly and pushing yourself again.
“Doing HIIT during the day can be very effective, as it causes an ‘after burn’ effect. This is because the intensity of the exercise causes an increased need for oxygen, so we end up with an oxygen shortage. This means your body must find more oxygen in order to recover, known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This, in turn, boosts your metabolism and burns more calories. HIIT workouts can also help to boost your productivity and energy levels, getting you through the rest of the day, and helping to avoid mid-afternoon energy slumps.”
What’s the best workout to do in the evening and why?
If you’re more of an evening person, you might want to tailor your exercise regime to get the most out of that 8pm session. “Strength training is a great option for an evening workout, as it’s when your glycogen stores are at their fullest, meaning you’ve got the power and energy to smash your way through a tough workout and push your body,” says Dr. Kianoush.
“In the evening you will also have higher testosterone levels as well as a higher anaerobic capacity which can make you stronger. In fact, according to research in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism journal, anaerobic capacity is 7% higher in the evening compared to in the morning, helping you with strength training and power movements.
“Your body temperature also peaks in the evening, and body temperature is closely related to performance, being at it’s highest when you’re most awake. Physiologically, your body is in a better state to exert its full potential. Training at night is associated with a higher power output in both resistance and endurance sports.”
What’s the best workout to do on a hangover?
A LISS (low intensity steady state) workout
Some people prefer to slump on the sofa and watch The Crown all day when they’re hungover (guilty), but others crave the rush of endorphins they get from a workout. If that’s you, Dr. Kianoush says “A LISS (low intensity steady state) workout could be beneficial.
“This kind of exercise i.e. steady cycling, climbing on the Stairmaster or steady rowing can help you to combat or lessen the effects of a hangover, helping you to ‘sweat out’ the toxins in alcohol to help your body recover faster. The lower intensity nature of these workouts is gentler on your body too.”
Obviously, you should be more wary than usual if you’re feeling the effects of the night before. “If you’re severely hungover, it may be best not to work out at all,” explains Dr. Kianoush. “Hangovers can result in dehydration, and by attempting to sweat it out, further dehydration occurs. This can make exercising feel far more physically draining, due to the inevitable fatigue, body aches and possible nausea that accompanies a traditional hangover.
“Alcohol also lowers the rate of protein synthesis in the body, the biological process in which cells build new proteins, making it harder to build muscle and recover as effectively as you would normally.
“Ultimately, this means that your post-party workout will be far less beneficial than usual and might actually be doing you more harm than good.”
A legit excuse to stay at home? We’re definitely scheduling our Sundays as exercise-free from now on.
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