My busy work schedule only allows me to workout later at night. Is it bad if I do an intense weight training workout an hour or two before I go to sleep? My goal is to gain about 10-15 pounds of muscle and get stronger. Will training late at night negatively impact my muscle and strength gains in any way?
In a perfect world where your schedule allowed you to workout at any time of the day, then the most ideal time to weight train is in the morning. This is due to your testosterone levels being the highest earlier in the morning which allows you to maximize this window of opportunity to make the best gains. Your testosterone levels start to decrease later in the day because your body naturally starts to slow down and get ready for sleep later in the day when it gets dark. This can cause issues with a lot of people who have late shifts and end up working overnight and then sleeping during the day since their body’s natural rhythms get a little confused since the body is expecting to be sleeping at night and awake during the day.
It really comes down to whether you have any time early in the morning to get a quick workout in. You have a few options to maximize the time for your workouts. If you start work around 8am, then your first option is to get up around 5:30am to 6:00am and hit the gym for about an hour before heading to work. The biggest issue here is how far you live from the gym and then how far the gym is away from your work. If your work place has a gym you can use, this should work perfectly for you. Head off to work about an hour early, get your workout in at the gym at work and then start your normal work day. It will be super convenient and save you tons of precious time if you have access to a gym at the place where you work.
If you don’t have a gym located at your work and you don’t have time to go to your local gym in the morning since it’s just too far to drive, then you might also think about working out at home if you have enough room in an extra bedroom or even your garage. You could pull out your cars and gain access to a great space where you can get in a killer muscle building kettlebell workout (30 minutes) and then finish with jumping rope and doing burpees for your fat burning cardio workout (30 minutes).
Your entire home workout will be about 1 hour and then you’re all done and you don’t have to worry about fitting in your workout later at night. The best thing about working out at home is you can literally roll out of bed, put on your workout clothes and get after it! It’s super convenient and you will save so much time compared to driving to the gym, dealing with the traffic on the way there and then dealing with all the people in the gym.
If you are able to get everything finished in the morning before going to work, then this will be the best time to maximize your muscle building hormones so you can train at the peak of the day and get the most out of your weight workouts. If you just can’t get up that early in the morning to hit your local gym or your office gym, and you just don’t have any additional space in your house or apartment where you can do a home workout, then your second option is to workout during your lunch break, if you have the time. Most employees have an hour break for lunch and you might be able to fit a workout in during this time. You can do a super high intensity 30 minute circuit style training workout where you do back to back exercises with very little rest between sets. This will allow you to train at a very high intensity and pack everything into your weight workout in a short amount of time.
If you’re unable to workout in the morning or at lunch time, then you will need to follow your current schedule and workout later at night. Although this is not the most ideal time to train, its boils down to getting your workout in during the day whenever time allows. I give you a lot of credit for taking the initiative to do whatever it takes to make sure you get your workout in. The bottom line is that any exercise is better than not exercising at all, so whether you workout super early in the morning or later at night before you go to bed, you will benefit from the muscle building resistance training and cardiovascular workouts you perform at the time you choose to train.
When training later at night, I recommend avoiding any stimulant based pre-workout supplements that contain a lot of caffeine. Taking these types of supplements might give you extra energy during your workouts but the negative effect is that they will keep you awake and make it much harder to go to sleep when you get home after your workout. Remember that one of the biggest keys to making gains in building muscle and increasing strength levels is to get an adequate amount of sleep every night so your body can fully rest, recover and grow from your intense workouts. If you train at night, your body will be energized from the workout itself and it will tend to be active for some time after the workout is over which will make it a little more difficult to fall asleep. So, just make sure you avoid any caffeine packed pre-workout supplements at night and when you get home, really try to fully relax and wind down for about an hour before getting into bed. This will allow your body to slowly start to calm down after your workout and it will be much easier to get a good night of solid sleep.