Why I Stopped Training Clients in the Evening!
Updated: Oct 10, 2021
From a business perspective – training clients in the evening was fantastic because I could easily block sessions together and more people are usually available during this time.
However, what I started to realise quite early in my career, was that clients who trained earlier in the day, seemed to get better results in fat loss and skill acquisition when compared to my evening clients.
Even though the material and attitude I approached them with was the same.
1. From a logical perspective
We have more energy at the beginning of the day, compared to the end of the day, which allows us to execute training more effectively.
Motivation takes energy and by the end of the day most of that energy has been allocated to the necessary tasks during the day.
c. Passion, Love, Focus
When we execute training with passion, love and focus we will always produce better results.
However, if the body is exhausted, then how can we expect this level of outcome. What would usually happen is, people know they must exercise in order to avoid problems from emerging so we “get the work in” but approach it from a checking the box mindset, which always leads to less than optimal results and a physical plateau cycle.
2. From a physiological perspective
a. Eating times
Exercise training reduces circulating leptin concentrations, reducing fat mass, and positively affects appetite and body composition.
However, in order to fuel muscle recovery and growth, we must eat more in the evenings to recover from training which adds more energy to our evening tasks which we already don’t have available.
The outcome is either not to eat – which is stressful for the body.
Or to eat and recover – which pushes our sleep and recovery time back as eating and digestion both take time – also not good.
b. Stress levels
Training activates our sympathetic nervous system which keeps us on alert and switches on our fight or flight response.
Endorphins are released that make us feel good and is a chemical in the brain that act as a natural painkiller.
However, because we are so amped up, it takes time for our parasympathetic system to kick back in and help us recover effectively.
And most of the time it doesn’t and we sleep with less than optimal conditions.
c. Recovery protocols
Physiological recovery from sleep is vital – not least because a number of hormonal responses take place in the lead up to and during sleep.
3. From a research perspective - circadian system
a. Light exposure & BMI
Having a majority of average daily light exposure of moderate intensity or greater earlier in the day was associated with lower BMI.
BMI, WHR, and waist circumference increased with increasing lightness of the room slept in at night.
These associations were still present after adjustment for age, socio- economic status, alcohol consumption, strenuous physical activity, night-shift work, having a young child, sleep duration, and current smoking.
b. Sleep/wake cycle
Evening exercise prevents the nocturnal decline of core body temperature via the sympathetic nerve activation and delay shifts in melatonin rise.
Morning or afternoon exercise would improve the quality of nocturnal sleep by increasing the parasympathetic nerve activity via resting body temperature and cardiac activity.
c. Hormonal secretions
What’s important to understand is that the balance and timing of anabolic (testosterone) and catabolic (cortisol) hormones are considered essential to muscle adaptation and growth.
In terms of timing, scientists have established that cortisol and testosterone both follow a circadian rhythm, and are affected following exercise or sleep deprivation/disturbance.
Cortisol is naturally highest in the morning and rises as we are waking up.
Melatonin is rising the evening as we are getting ready for rest and sleep.
However if we are increasing cortisol via training, it is unrealistic and physiologically illogical to expect optimal sleep quality a few hours later.
Our 24 body clock – our circadian rhythm can't function optimally due to the conflicting input we are providing our body.
In conclusion, training earlier in the day, compared with later in the day seems to provide the body with a more effective physiological response and allows individuals to reach higher quality results in fat loss and skill acquisition.