When to Work Out

The time of day you exercise makes a difference, so plan for it.

Your body requires fuel for strenuous exercise, and during different times of the day it may even require more food energy.Your body requires fuel for strenuous exercise, and during different times of the day it may even require more food energy.Photo: J.D. Dougherty

For months now, I have been doing "two-a-days" at the gym — two workouts, that is…one in the morning and one later that afternoon.

That said, it occurred to me that prepping for both workouts has taken some planning. Specifically, I have to nourish my body appropriately so that I have the internal fuel for both workouts (which are pretty intense, as you can see in our videos), and ensure that my fluid intake is sufficient as well.

Not everyone can do two-a-days and, frankly, those aren't necessary to achieve the kind of results you may want. We just do them because we have so much content we're trying to push out to our followers, it takes a couple of workouts a day to get all of it accomplished.

What does matter to your overall development, however, is the time of day you choose to get your workout in.

Workout Times

Most people are "fresher" in the mornings, but if you're getting out of bed and heading straight to the gym site for a workout, your body has already used up most of the fuel you put in it the night before, so that's something to keep in mind.

If you work out later in the morning and have had time for breakfast (you should always make time for that, according to most dietary researchers), then your body likely has the fuel required to power you through a workout.

But if you tend to wait until the end of the day, there are some factors to consider, based on my own experiences: fatigue, food/water intake, and weather/climate.

You need to "eat" for your workouts, of course, but eating throughout the day can often make you a little tired by early to mid-afternoon. Then, of course, you're not going to be at your max alertness for your workout. You may have the fuel but not the same desire you would normally have in a morning workout. Plus, this time of year it's hot, hot, hot in most places, so that's something you have to consider as well: Fatigue and heat are not good combinations.

What do you need to do to address these concerns? For me, anyway, I find myself needing to "prep" mentally for afternoon workouts. It also means I need to prep my body by doing some extra stretching and taking some time to work out those kinks from sitting much of the day at my job.

If you work out outdoors much, then you may require some extra fuel intake to power you through that late afternoon workout.


If you do intend to work out twice in one day, here are some sample workout plans.

Workout 1:

We tend to divide our workouts between strength training/weights and high-impact sessions.

Several experts believe that for strength training, you don't need to do exotic movements; just the basics work fine.

Jeffrey Siegel, a personal trainer based in Boston, says there are five primary maneuvers, in addition to movements, such as throwing, crawling, and climbing:

• Hip-dominant (deadlifts, hinges, and swings)

• Knee-dominant (squats and lunges)

• Pushing movements (pushups, dips, and presses)

• Pulling movements (rows and pull-ups)

• Gait patterns, such as walking and running

You can also add:

• Squats (for 2/3 maximum weight/several rounds)

• Bench presses

• Triceps/Biceps

• T-bar rows

Pick three or four exercises for each body part you're working on for the day, and always add in a half-mile to 1-mile jog/run.

Workout 2:

On our website at SurvivalLegion.com, we have several high-intensity workouts that include sledgehammer swings, tire flips, sprints (30, 40, 50, 60 yards), farmer's carry, kettlebell swings, push-ups, tire jumps, pushing/pulling a vehicle/weighted sled, tire throws, etc.

Any combination of these over time will not only boost your strength but dramatically increase your physical endurance as well. Strength-and-endurance exercises include kettlebell carries/jog (60 yards); rapid tire flip (see how fast you can get 10 flips done); sprints; overhead tire carry/jog (100 yds); sled pull/sprint.

Meal Planning

When putting in more than one workout a day, one of the most important considerations is nutrition and fuel for the workout. Experts say you've got to be smart about what you eat and when.

When you're doing a single workout a day, you have time (24 hours) to replenish your carbohydrates and amino acids needed for muscle rejuvenation. But two-a-days involve a much shorter window for this, perhaps just 4-6 hours.

Paul Salter, MS, RD, recommends four ways to get the necessary nutrients to your muscles quickly: Powdered drinks; drink carbs, then eat; non-bloating fats; rehydrate.

The point is, it makes a difference what time of day you work out, as well as the number of times per day you get a workout in.

Helping you achieve your peak fitness objectives that will help keep you injury-free as you work to protect and serve our communities and country is my number one objective. So it's important for you to consider various factors when deciding what is the best time of day to work out as well as the frequency and intensity of those workouts.

J.D. Dougherty, a former paramedic, firefighter, and 15-year military veteran of OEF, is co-founder of Survival Legion (https://suvivallegioncom.wordpress.com/), a vet-owned company that stresses functional fitness and draws its uniqueness from the Roman Legions.

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