It is normally acknowledged as more beneficial to train in the evenings, or later afternoon, normally between 5-7pm in order to maximise your size and strength gains. This doesn’t mean training in the morning isn’t going to be of benefit! However, with so many theories out there I wanted to throw down my own logic on the topic, some of you may think ‘what a load of rubbish’ whilst others of you may agree!
Research has shown that your natural testosterone and growth hormone levels are at their peak in the morning, therefore some say it has to be the best time to train. Whilst this may be a benefit, I don’t think it would make a significant difference. Besides, when you train hard your anabolic hormone levels are forced to increase anyway, as part of your body’s response to the stress! Training in the morning means that at best, you have eaten one meal. Therefore you are certainly going to be weaker than in the evening, which to me makes it an obvious disadvantage. In fact it isn’t so much your strength levels, it is more your endurance and energy levels which will suffer first thing in the morning! One plus of weight training in the morning is that your metabolism will be amped for the rest of the day, but on the flip side, if you do pre-breakfast cardio then this will achieve a similar effect. Therefore I have to say, I fail to see any benefit by training in the morning opposed to in the evening, if you have the choice. Don’t get me wrong, it can still be very productive, but I think lifting in the evening is more productive and here is why!
By 5-7pm you will have probably eaten 4 good meals, which will mean your energy levels are going to be through the roof and your muscle glycogen levels should be full depending on what have eaten, of course. As a result you are going to be more anti-catabolic in the gym, as your glycogen levels won’t deplete so rapidly. Your strength levels should also be at their peak during this time of the day, again, depending on what you have eaten. If you are stronger, it stands to reason your muscles will be exposed to more stress and as a result, be forced to adapt at a faster rate I.E grow BIGGER! By training this time of the day your metabolism will be fired up during the night which is great in my opinion, because this is when a lot of people gain body fat! As a final point, breakfast and your post-workout meals are probably your 2 most anabolic meals of the day. Why? Well, because your muscles are essentially depleted and starved, therefore your nutrient assimilation is optimised because your muscles need to soak all of them up! So by having breakfast and your post-workout meals so close together in the day, I feel you are potentially limiting your anabolic windows of opportunity here a little. Again, these are all small details which can add up to make a big difference, and I am basing this on someone who can train when they need to.
There is my opinion on the AM vs PM training! For sure I train in the morning sometimes, a lot of pros do and a lot of very good amateur athletes do as well. This is simply my opinion and based on what I have found works in the last 5 years! If you can, lift PM and leave AM for cardio!