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Best tine to work out.

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 3:34 am
by Twin Oaks
Hi Folks
I'm a new used to this forums, but I've checked out this site for several things over the last few years. I have a question about the time of day to work out, but more importantly is this: Should I do it before or after work? It's summer, I work as a landscaper, as such I get started by 7:00 and quit my work day around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon to avoid too much heat depending on what I'm doing. Also, I haven't been to the gym in at least 3 years and need to get back in to it as I have the "I used to have huge legs but the wife says I'm skinny now" syndrome. So I'm wondering if working out after work in an air conditioned gym would be better than getting there at 6:00 and working out before work.


Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:37 am
by Jungledoc
I don't think that there's an answer that applies to everyone. I'm not aware of any physiological reason why the afternoon would be better. For me the answer would be a big "yes". I'm not a morning person, and I don't do well working out on an empty stomach. Some people function better early, and do OK without eating much before the workout.

Your answer might be affected by how physically demanding your work is. I'm sure it varies a lot. If you work hard all day, you might not be up to an hour of heavy lifting in the afternoon.

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:50 am
by jps
I work a very physically demanding job, with no climate Florida even. As long as my diet is good, I have no trouble working out in the afternoon. And to top it all off, I workout in my garage, which is pretty toasty by the time I get home.

I don't think I'd do well with morning workouts.....

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:39 am
by hoosegow
After 3 years of nothing, anytime is good. Don't worry about the small stuff until you get back in to the routine of training.

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:15 am
by Jungledoc
hoosegow wrote:After 3 years of nothing, anytime is good. Don't worry about the small stuff until you get back in to the routine of training.
"Don't worry about the small stuff" could be a boiler-plate answer to about half of the questions that are posted here!

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:38 am
by Stephen Johnson
hoosegow wrote:After 3 years of nothing, anytime is good. .
I agree. The best time to work out is the best time that you can get to the gym. Although it's best at first to have a set workout time until you get into the habit, later on you can work out at different times to give yourself more flexibility.

Landscaping could be a physically demanding job, so the temptation is to work out before going in, while you're still fresh. But if you're not a morning person, that wouldn't work for you.

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:43 pm
by frogbyte
I'm surprised to hear people say it doesn't matter - I've always read that weight training in the morning was risky for spinal shearing forces since the vertebrae are decompressed.

Everyone's favorite Eric Cressey even says so: ... ack_savers

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:23 am
by Ironman
frogbyte wrote:I'm surprised to hear people say it doesn't matter - I've always read that weight training in the morning was risky for spinal shearing forces since the vertebrae are decompressed.

Everyone's favorite Eric Cressey even says so: ... ack_savers
Yep, I wouldn't do anything involving lower back until I've been up for at least a couple hours or longer.

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:16 pm
by fast_twitch
frogbyte wrote:I'm surprised to hear people say it doesn't matter - I've always read that weight training in the morning was risky for spinal shearing forces since the vertebrae are decompressed.

Everyone's favorite Eric Cressey even says so: ... ack_savers
Hope I'm not intruding here, but this point (article) is the subject I was going to ask about.

First, I have a few strikes against me: 1. I don't have the best posture. My mid/upper back is relatively weak and so is my posture. I do back hyperextensions and supermans and various core exercises, but my posture is still not great. 2. My lower back is taking a beating from the statin drugs I take for cholesterol (hereditary, not age or dietary). Statins are known to tear down muscle, and in me it's focused on my lower back. Mornings I feel like an old man. 3. I hurt my lower back doing squats several months ago, and still haven't recovered 100%.

In view of this, I have a couple of questions: 1. Am I a candidate for PM workouts? I work out in the AM now, before work. 2. I'm doing standing calf raises with 180 lbs. on my back. Is this compressing my disks to the point where I'll have issues down the road (I'm nearly 54 now).

I work out at home with free-weights. The only "appliances" I use are a weight bench with leg extension attachment (heavy duty), a squat rack, and a flat bench.

TIA for any help.

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:29 pm
by frogbyte
Well in just the calf raise itself there's not any shearing really as far as I know. But keep in mind the setup/preparation for the exercise. I'd worry more about lifting the plates onto the bar and such.

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:59 am
by KPj
Frogbyte- Bill Hartman has a good blog post from a while ago on this exact issue. Training in the morning is certainly more risky but can still be done safely. Rounding your lower back when getting dressed and driving to work is just as, if not more risky than training in the morning. ... sc-injury/

fast_twitch - I would advise you make it a priority to learn a little about the lower back. I don't mean to get a degree in biomechanics, just learn enough to manage it properly. For example, hyperextensions and supermans are things you should be avoiding. The series of articles that frogbyte linked to are a great source of info.

In a nutshell, you want to avoid any excess movement at the lower back. The movment should come from the upper back (i.e. the chest) and hips. The upper back has the capacity to move around a lot, the lower back doesn't. Specifically, you want to stay away from anything that rounds your lower back. So, if the your back rounds and the rounding is taking place from your hips to around your belly button, then you're rounding the lower back - you want to avoid that. For pretty much the same reasons, you want to avoid bending backwards excessively i.e. hyperextensions. The 'extension' part is fine (if it's pain free), it's the 'hyper' part that's the problem. Supermans put your lower back in the same position. Traditional Sit ups/crunches round your lower back - it's these kind of things you need to become aware of, really.

As for training in the morning - you should read the blog post above. Of course you can train in the morning, you just need to be extra catious. I would advise you to train at night or the afternoon if you have the option, but, if the morning is the only time you can train, then just train, but be careful/sensible.

Also, the morning is actually a good time for people with back issues to get moving as it will generally make it much more managable, much quicker. Bodyweight squat, lunge, and plank type movements would be good to loosen you up and, done properly, should easily keep you out of the 'danger zone' (rounding, or bending back excessively). So, if you stop training in the morning, you might want to do a short (5-10) minute body weight routine, nice and easy going, just to help things a long.

Also - golden rule is, if it hurts, don't do it.


Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:21 am
by KPj

In terms of compression on the lower back. It's great to be aware of these things but, what you also need to consider is that compression is a part of life. Just not 'too much, too soon'. There's compression on your lower back when you sit down (3x as much compared to standing, actually) but that doesn't make sitting down bad.

The trick, really, is doing things with good form/movement as this would ensure that the lower back remained stable, the surrounding muscles do what they're supposed to do and the hips and upper back are moving when neccessary.

What you can do is 'spare the spine'. Things that cause excessive compression may cause pain. And, it might not be worth it. For example, front squats Vs back squats. Much greater forces on the spine with back squats. Front squats use less load and a more upright posture and therefore less force on the spine. So, for a problematic back, you might want to choose front squats over back squats, simply because you get the same training effect on the legs, with less load on the spine - spare the spine. The same prinnciple can be taken further with single leg exercises. Much less load on the spine but you can still get a great training effect on the legs. I'm also not telling you to do front squats over back squats, or single leg stuff over bilateral stuff - i'm just pointing out the options, really.

There's loads you can do to get a good training effect whilst keeping as much stress off the spine as possible. It just comes down to prerference and tolerance (does it hurt?) at the end of the day. You don't need to back squat, and you don't need to do conventional DL's with straight bar, but, you might just really want to do these things, and can do them pain free, so, it would be fine.


Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:04 am
by Jungledoc
I think that the main issue with morning training is in the first few minutes after getting out of bed. If you get up, get dressed, walk around getting a little food, drive to the gym, walk in, your spine is probably back to it's usual position, and the discs are compressed, so you can train normally. If you have a home gym, you probably shouldn't just get up and start squatting or DLing.

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:06 pm
by verticaljumpman
I agree with a lot of the posts on here that there is no specific answer for everyone. Some days I come home from work and feel like total crap...other days I feel like I can walk through a brick wall. If you feel like lifting, then hit it immediately.


Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:32 pm
by caangelxox
There is no specific answer because everyone is different. Some people are a morning person, some people are an afternoon person, and some people are an evening person. It all depends on what you are in the mood for best. I tried all 3 and morning-afternoon time works best for me.