If your training progress has come to a plateau and you can’t figure out why, you may be missing some key factors to consider for your workouts to gain more muscle.
Working out in the morning or evening does not drastically change your results in the gym. When you implement the following strategies, you will be able to lift heavier weight, increase endurance and gain muscle more effortlessly than before.
Let’s explore whether working out in the morning or the evening will be better suited for you to gain muscle. We will also learn a few more tips and tricks for building muscle to elevate your performance and results.
When should I work out to gain muscle?
In a 2016 study, results showed that strength training combined with endurance in the evening showed a greater gain in muscle mass after a 12-week period. However, there are numerous factors that also contribute to optimum performance for muscle growth.
Factors to consider when choosing a workout time
- Our individual circadian rhythm. This differs from person to person.
- Testosterone levels. (growth hormone)
- Pain tolerance.
- Body temperature.
- Mental alertness.
Advantage of a morning workout
Testosterone levels tend to be highest. This means it’s a good time to hit personal bests and focus on increasing strength.
Your body temperature tends to be at its lowest on the morning making for a more comfortable workout.
Your mental alertness is usually highest in on a morning which is a good time to take advantage of focus for the workout.
Advantages of an evening workout
Your pain tolerance will most likely be highest on an evening which is a good time to push your limits.
You also have the fuel from the full day of eating which is a good foundation for an effective workout.
We can take advantage of all these points to optimise muscle gain. If you’re a morning person, then working out at this time means your mental alertness and testosterone levels are at their peak. Alternatively, if you’re an evening trainer, then you can take advantage of your higher pain threshold and energy consumed during the day from food to maximise efforts in your workout.
What should I do to gain muscle?.
Consider you Protein intake for muscle building
Consuming approximately 1.5g-2g of protein per lb of body weight is optimum for muscle growth.
Time your nutrient for muscle building
Timing your carbohydrate and protein intake around your workouts will affect your energy during the workout as well as recovery following the workout.
Train muscle with enough frequency
Are you training the muscle groups enough for adequate protein synthesis? One study showed that training muscle groups from 3-6 times per week showed optimise muscle growth.
Train your muscles with enough tension
Your general training technique might be detrimental to gaining muscle. Forcing your muscle under high tension creates micro-tears. This promotes protein synthesis during recovery which essentially means muscle growth over time if performed correctly.
Train your muscles at an optimum time
If you’re training when fatigued – late in the evening for example, your energy won’t facilitate an efficient workout, thus inhibiting muscle gain. Consider training at the time of day when your energy is highest.
Train muscles in combination
Combining muscle groups helps with training frequency, being able to train each muscle group more than once per week.
Timing your nutrient intake.
You may have heard of carb cycling which means timing your carbohydrate intake around your workouts or restricting carbohydrate intake on certain days.
Carb cycling is a great way to optimise energy before your workout. Consuming a moderate amount of carbohydrates an hour or so before you train will fuel your body to heighten the tension put on the muscles during the session.
If you are carb cycling in the way of restricting carbs on certain days, you may want to consider increasing your intake on your leg training days with them being your largest muscle group.
All the while, remember that to gain muscle, you need to be in a calorie surplus, so limiting the restriction of your calories on non-leg training days is also important.
What should I eat to gain muscle?
Protein is the building block of muscle. To optimise your results try basing your meals around protein. This will maintain your satiety levels throughout the day, stabilize your blood sugars, and sustain the building blocks (amino acids) for muscle growth that your body needs.
Additionally, ensuring you consume at least 20g of protein post-workout will benefit your goal of gaining muscle. By doing this you are providing your muscles the required nutrients for recovery after the micro-tearing has taken place. It will also replenish depleted amino acids, vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Sources of protein for muscle gain
There are ample choices when it comes to consuming protein. And no matter what time of day you choose to train, you can make your meals suit your mood.
So here are some ideas of protein sources you can add into your diet for gaining muscle with additional ideas to make them more tasty too:
- Chicken breast
You could add some pesto once it has cooled and mix it into some pasta.
- Chicken thigh (higher in fat)
You could brush olive oil over them before cooking to create a crisp skin if that’s what you like.
- Soy-based products
This could include tofu, tempeh or soy-based granolas.
Adding honey and peanut butter makes it extra tasty.
Simply add some mayo with sweet peppers, spring onion and seasoning for extra flavour.
Whisk some eggs, then soak a slice or two of toast in the mix and fry for protein French toast.
Red lentil pasta with mozzarella is a great alternative idea to plain lentils.
Slow cook your beef with vegetables for intense flavour.
- Whey protein powder
Add a scoop of protein powder to 250ml water, 50g of yoghurt and a handful of fresh or frozen berries for a delicious smoothie.
You don’t have to stick to the basic chicken and broccoli to get the body you want. Mix it up and enjoy your food. Because of what you enjoy, you will stick to it.
How many times a week should you train a muscle?
Here is a look at what options you have for various training frequencies for muscle groups and the requirements to make each one an effective strategy.
- Once per week
The stimulus for the muscles must be strong enough during the session to elicit 6 days rest for gaining muscle. Failure to provide such stimulus will mean you are undertraining the body part and it will regress by the time you come to train it again inhibiting muscle growth.
- Twice per week
For a lot of people, this seems optimum. With adequate rest days and efficient stress placed on each muscle during the workout, studies show muscle growth was higher with this schedule compared to training just once per week.
- Three times per week
This would be one day’s rest between each muscle group, so it is critical that you fuel your body with correct nutrition and have the perfect training form and techniques.
Combining muscles during training.
There are plenty of options you have when choosing what muscles to train together. Combining muscles in workouts is a great way to use your time and enhance your results.
To follow on from above, a training split for each of those options may look similar to this:
Training each muscle once per week:
Monday – Quadriceps
Tuesday – Back
Wednesday – Glutes
Thursday – Shoulders
Friday – Arms
Saturday – Hamstrings/calves.
Training each muscle twice per week:
Monday – Back and biceps.
Tuesday – Full legs and glutes
Wednesday – Shoulders and arms.
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Back and biceps.
Saturday – Full legs and glutes.
Sunday – Shoulders and arms.
Training each muscle three times per week:
Monday – Full body.
Tuesday – Rest.
Wednesday – Full body.
Thursday – Rest.
Friday – Full body.
To conclude, the main points to consider that will improve your regime should be:
- Training when you feel your strongest and most alert.
- Timing your carbohydrate and protein intake optimally.
- Your training techniques: time under tension for your muscles.
- The training schedule that suits your lifestyle.
Once you’re in the flow of it, you will feel stronger, and more energised and see the results in the mirror too.
You now know the key factors which influence your muscle growth. You will be able to see how your progress stalled, to begin with and know what you can now implement into your workout regime to get the results you want.
Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, you can use the training formats and the nutrient tips provided to really heighten your experience with weight training and progress your muscle gain.
It’s not so much about the timing of your workouts, but what will stick with your lifestyle and what feels best for you. You will maintain progress if you fit your training and nutrition around your schedule whether that is a morning session or an evening session.
Utilising all of the information here will give you a solid foundation to gain muscle regardless of the time of day you decide to hit the gym.