How Waking Up affects performance in the gym

Waking up at inconsistent times has huge effects on your performance in and outside the gym.

This has been very well studied across both mice and now humans, showing that there are multiple factors at play that will impact how you perform, behave and feel.

That is in the period between waking up and exercise sessions.

Wake up times affect both your performance, wakefulness and sleep in the next night

There is one fundamental that should be pointed out: Sleep is the only way for your body to learn, fully repair and cleanse itself from the previous day.

Our circadian clocks are set in a way that they expect a “regime” to be followed, meaning in best case scenario is: You’ll wake up at the same time each day (roughly 30 minutes up or down).

However, in the majority of people’s cases that isn’t the regime, or even possible due to shift work. So how to shift your body to adjust in the best way possible according to most recent research?

Consistency in wake-up times positively affects both your eating habits, mood and hormones which are all important processes when it comes to performance at the gym.

Your body follows the basis of circadian rhythm, meaning that it strives to achieve balance and has a ticking clock inside each cell of your – mine body, following an almost 24-hour cycle (give or take half an hour)

There are multiple factors that will affect your sleep the next night, and the verticals we’ll look at are: light exposure, wake up times, and eating.

For most of the part: this would account for 90% if not 95% of things that would affect your sleep on a normal day. We’ll talk about effects of alcohol as well on gym and sleep.

How does a morning look like from food perspective?

In terms of food, it won’t matter at what time in the day you wake up and eat the batch, e. g. morning or lunch.

What does matter is that you eat consistently at same time intervals (give or take 30 minutes) daily, since your body will already expect and even push you to be hungry at the same times.

If it’s too irregular, quite a huge number of processes (also inside your brain) become desynchronized, leaving your body to adjust every day.

What you have to remember is that your body strives for consistency, since in the long term it’s the least demanding way to function in terms of calories for your brain and whole system.

Protein: What is the best time to eat

What does matter at least by research is timing protein ingestion.

The ingestion of protein seems to be the most helpful by recent findings in the morning, because protein gets digested through pathways in your body better in the early part of the day.

This will enhance your muscle recovery and help you progress faster in the gym in each subsequent days, so this has to be taken into account.

Wake up times and eating

Also, as an important distinction – I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the recent findings that suggest to postpone your meals by 1 hour at least, right after waking up. This is because your system is just getting restarted from the state of sleep, during which it repairs most of its functions.

The delay in food intake for 1 hour will help you further enhance your performance in the gym. I’ll link a new article on our site that will specifically talk about food in here as well soon, and with more information.

Hormones in workout sessions

Sleep is important, but especially the most important is the way your hormones play into each “timezone” during the day.

To put it simply – in the mornings (in general, first third of your day) – you’ll have spikes in cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline, which will make you want to “do” activities.

This is especially important to make sure you get the cortisol spike in the first third of the day. This should be done both through light exposure which will spike your cortisol, but also with exercise which will do the same.

Remember – any stress (even muscle stress) works similarly in creating a stress response inside your body.

Because of this, it would also make the most sense to time your workouts early in the day. With a great regime (I ve been following this myself, albeit for only week and a half), you would wake up, not eat anything for an hour, and stress your body through your gym session between 3-5 hours after waking up.

This would work very well in conjunction with how your circadian rhythm is set up (if it is set up properly). Secondly, it would work with your hormones naturally peak during the day (both cortisol and adrenaline) helping you to “do” activities in the correct timeframe.

Thirdly, catching sunlight exposure on your way to the gym or even leveraging outside gyms would work as a triple hit for your mood and performance levels.

Evening spike in cortisol is 2nd best time to train

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that your cortisol – stress hormone – also has a 2nd peak before/in the evening, which is why you sometimes actually can’t fall asleep.

This happens because your body needs to be in a calm state in order to fall asleep.

I would assume this was evolutionarily due to many predators / dangers still lurking in the dark, resulting in us having to be on guard during evenings to ensure our and our offspring’s survival.

This could be also a 2nd time you can leverage and do a gym session.

However due to many people’s tight schedules, it seems like morning would be the go-to at least for people who do have the time to get a session before other work activities.

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