I rarely get this question, but it’s an important one – when is the best time to exercise if your goal is to build muscle? This usually is asked by men, but it also pertains to women.
Well, my generic answer to “best time” to do anything is always going to be, when YOU can get to it. Some of us can maybe only go to the gym before work or after work or we’re so busy, it can only be on the weekends.
So, whenever YOU can get to it, then do it. Don’t overthink it. Plan it, schedule it and then DO IT consistently and you’ll get results.
However, in an ideal world, there IS the best time to exercise for building muscle.
Now, the first rule for building muscle is to optimize your hormones. This is extremely important and I’ll get to that in a minute.
The second rule for building muscle is you need to FEED it and thus, you have to eat a good amount of extra food. There’s NO way around it. Food is your most anabolic substance.
You can exercise all you want. You can sleep all day long. You can take lots of steroids. But if you don’t eat enough food, gaining muscle is going to be very difficult.
So you want to make sure you eat at least ONE good meal and preferably, 2 or 3, BEFORE you go to the gym.
You need to fill up your muscles with enough fuel – protein, carbs, and fats – so you can have a good workout, be strong, and have the stamina to lift heavy weights, for enough sets and reps.
The more VOLUME (sets x reps) you can do and still RECOVER, the more muscle you’ll grow.
And recovery starts with food.
So, don’t even think about going to the gym first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. You’ll just burn away your muscles. You’ll have no fuel and your body will readily burn MUSCLE before fat for energy – especially because you’re lifting weights, which uses muscle (protein).
It’s different than doing cardiovascular exercise, which CAN be done on an empty stomach.
Additionally, you want to feed the muscle at least 2 good meals after your workout. Which means, don’t workout last thing at night and then go to sleep on an empty stomach.
#1 Best Case Scenario
Thus, in an ideal scenario, you’d eat 3 meals, go to the gym, and then eat 3 more meals.
Of course, not everyone can do this – especially if they have a job. Unless they work out during their lunch hour, which a lot of my clients do. Or you’re in school and you can take off an hour and go to the gym.
Anyway, IF you can do this, great. This is the best option. Three meals before and after your workout.
#2 Second Option
Second best option would be a morning workout. You’d eat one good meal (breakfast) and then go to the gym and then eat the rest of your meals during the day. Mornings are better because you’ll get energized and burn more calories for the rest of the day.
#3 Last Option
The third best option would be a night workout. You’d come home after work, for example, go to the gym, eat a good solid meal and then go to sleep in an hour or two later.
This is the last option because exercise increases body temperature and cortisol levels, which stimulates the nervous system (CNS) and thus – makes sleeping more difficult. But, this is better than no workout.
BOTTOM LINE: You need to get at least ONE meal before and after your workout.
If you’re doing some kind of intermittent fasting, I would suggest the same thing. Break your fast with at least one meal, then go to the gym and eat again after.
This, of course, depends on how long you’re fasting for. But if you’re going to eat for 8 hours, that gives you plenty of time to feed the muscle before and after the workout.
It’s All About Your Hormones
As I stated earlier, (genetics aside) muscle growth is ALWAYS dependant on your hormones.
This is why women can never get as big as men. This is why a guy in his 50’s and older, will never look as good as he did in his 20’s — all having to do with your hormones.
Now, the great part is you can always optimize and maximize your hormones naturally, at any age.
Be Anabolic AND Anti-Catabolic
And the reason I tell you to make sure you get at least ONE meal before and after your workout is to manage insulin levels – which is BOTH anabolic AND anti-catabolic.
By having some carbs before and after your workouts, as part of a meal (with proteins and a little bit of fat too), you’ll have higher blood sugar and insulin levels.
This shuttles and moves the food you eat into the muscle for your workout and FEEDS your muscle. This is the “anabolic” part (building).
And the carbs after your workout (again, with some protein and a little bit of fat) keeps blood sugar elevated, which continues to feed the muscle but also LOWERS cortisol – your “catabolic” stress hormone. This means that you are now also “anti-catabolic”.
REMEMBER: It’s one thing to build muscle – but you ALSO want to reduce the BREAKDOWN of muscle at the same time. Now you get double the growth, double the progress.
Otherwise, you’ll gain 5 lbs of muscle and lose 5 lbs and end up with no progress, which is what happens to most people.
Also, keep in mind that as cortisol (stress/catabolic hormone) goes up, your testosterone (anabolic) hormone comes down.
And without testosterone, you’ll NEVER gain any muscle.
And if you really want to increase muscle size, then you should consider using a clinically proven testosterone boosting, hormone optimizing supplement such as AlphaViril.
Now you’ll have optimal hormonal balance for building muscle, gaining strength, AND losing fat.
Plus, you’ll have a much higher sex drive and libido too, which is always nice.
So in closing, make sure you feed your muscle with at least one good meal, before and after your weight training workout. This will help build muscle and reduce muscle breakdown.
Finally, add in testosterone boosting, a hormone-optimizing solution such as AlphaViril, to really increase the anabolic, anti-catabolic ratios needed for building more muscle, gaining strength and losing fat.
Then, go rest, and you’ll slowly build muscle over the next few weeks and months.