This article was originally written for STACK.
The best time of day to work out is first thing in the morning.
There, I said it.
No, it's not because you'll burn more fat in the morning than you would later in the day. And no, it's not because you'll build more muscle than you would with an evening workout. In fact, I have no scientific evidence to back my statement (none that I researched, anyway). \
My reasoning has nothing to do with physiology, but everything to do with psychology. I can't definitively tell you that a morning workout will give you a stronger body, but I can tell you that it will make you a stronger person. Let me explain.
Strengthen Your Discipline
Waking up early is hard. Waking up early to go to the gym and get under a heavy barbell is even harder. So why do it? You do it because it makes you a more disciplined person.
Self-discipline, itself, is like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it becomes. Therefore, the more you do something that challenges you, the easier other challenging tasks become. So by facing small bits of adversity every day—like rolling out of bed and heading straight to the gym—the more prepared you will be for the curveballs that life is bound to throw at you later that day or in the future.
Start with a Win
Momentum has an enormous effect on the outcome of our day, and ultimately, our weeks and months. One good thing leads to another, then another, then another, and pretty soon all the dominoes start falling. The compound effect begins to take place, and the positive momentum starts roaring like a freight train with no breaks.
Working out every morning is a surefire way to guarantee that you start with a win and get that positive momentum working in your favor.
Think about it, if you complete a workout first thing in the morning are you going to pick up a few donuts for breakfast on the way to work? I doubt it.
Instead, you'll opt for the eggs and oatmeal. That positive momentum will most definitely spill over into other aspects of your life as well, making you more task-oriented, productive and engaged.
By waking up early to work out, you set yourself apart from the crowd. The roads are quiet and the gym is empty. Your "competition" is still tucked in bed. But not you. You're going to work.
If you're able to complete a full workout before your peers or co-workers even open their eyes, then you're already having a more productive day. You're winning.
While they're still at home making their morning coffee, trying to force themselves awake, you're wide-eyed, full of endorphins and ready to take on the day. At first, that extra hour or two may seem insignificant, but over time, the gap between you and them will widen.
Fewer Distractions and Excuses
Here is a list of things that don't happen at 5 a.m.: traffic, crowded gyms, staying late at work to make a deadline, happy hour, anniversary dinners, your child's tee-ball game, Monday Night Football—Need I go on? All of these excuses, many of which I've taken from personal experience, can sabotage an evening workout. But those excuses don't exist in the morning.
Morning workouts eliminate the possibility of any work, family or social distractions getting in the way. Throughout the day, good or bad, things will happen. Those things often turn into "I can't work out today because…" or "I don't feel like it today because…". Morning gym-goers don't open themselves up to those excuses. Get your workout in first thing every day, when the rest of the world is still quiet and when you can give your full attention to the task at hand.
There you have it. That's why you should work out first thing in the morning. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, morning workouts don't have any secret anabolic properties or significant fat burning effects. And ultimately, the absolute best time to work out is whenever you can make it happen consistently.
However, morning workouts do have the ability to create positive change in other aspects of your life. They will make you more disciplined, more productive and more engaged.
So set your alarm an hour or two earlier and give it a try. Before you know it, you'll be a morning person too.