Table of Contents
- Circadian Rhythm and Hormonal Impact
- Melatonin The Sleep Hormone
- Cortisol The Stress Hormone
- Testosterone The Anabolic Hormone
- Optimising Your Workout Routine
- The Testosterone to Cortisol Ratio (TPC Ratio)
- The Best Time to Workout Morning vs. Evening vs. Afternoon Workout
- The Caveat The Marginal Difference
Have you ever wondered if there is an ideal time to work out that maximises the benefits of exercise? As it turns out, our bodies have their own internal clocks, known as circadian rhythms, which are influenced by three essential hormones: cortisol, testosterone, and melatonin. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating interplay of these hormones, discover the concept of the testosterone to cortisol ratio, and determine the optimal time to optimise your workout routine for better results.
Circadian Rhythm and Hormonal Impact
Our body’s circadian rhythm serves as its internal timekeeper, governing various physiological processes and behaviours throughout a 24-hour cycle. This rhythm is regulated by three key hormones: cortisol, testosterone, and melatonin.
Melatonin: The Sleep Hormone
Melatonin is commonly known as the “sleep hormone.” It responds to darkness, and in the evening, the body starts releasing melatonin, inducing a sense of sleepiness. This explains why we feel more relaxed and ready for bed as the day transitions into night. Conversely, during the morning, melatonin detects the brightness of daylight and reduces its secretion, making way for another hormone to take centre stage.
Cortisol: The Stress Hormone
Cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone,” plays a crucial role in our body’s stress response. In the morning, when we wake up and are exposed to light, cortisol levels begin to rise. This hormone helps increase alertness and prepares us for the day ahead. Cortisol reaches its peak 6-7 hours after waking and gradually subsides as the day progresses.
Testosterone: The Anabolic Hormone
Testosterone, an essential hormone for both men and women, plays a significant role in muscle growth and repair. After cortisol levels subside, typically in the afternoon, the body starts releasing testosterone. This is an optimal time for muscle-building activities and strength training exercises.
Optimising Your Workout Routine
Now that we understand the impact of circadian rhythm and hormone fluctuations on our body, how can we optimise our workout routine to make the most of this information?
The Testosterone to Cortisol Ratio (T:PC Ratio)
The key to optimising your workout time lies in understanding the testosterone to cortisol ratio, often denoted as T:PC ratio. This ratio represents the balance between anabolic (muscle-building) hormones like testosterone and catabolic (muscle-breaking) hormones like cortisol.
Research suggests that the T:PC ratio is highest during the afternoon, around 6-7 hours after waking up. This indicates that the afternoon is an ideal time to engage in intense workouts, weightlifting, and other activities that promote muscle growth and recovery.
The Best Time to Workout : Morning vs. Evening vs. Afternoon Workout
Many fitness enthusiasts wonder whether the morning or evening is better for working out. However, the afternoon takes the crown as the optimal time to exercise, considering the highest T:PC ratio during this period. While morning and evening workouts can still be beneficial, they may not offer the same advantages as an afternoon workout in terms of maximising muscle growth and performance.
The Caveat: The Marginal Difference
While the T:PC ratio favours afternoon workouts, it’s essential to understand that the difference in results compared to morning or evening workouts is relatively minor. Studies suggest that the variation in outcomes is often less than 5 percent.
In conclusion, our body’s internal clock, governed by circadian rhythm and influenced by hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, and melatonin, plays a vital role in determining the optimal time to work out. The afternoon stands out as the prime time for intense exercise, given the highest testosterone to cortisol ratio during this period. However, it’s crucial to remember that the difference in results between morning, evening, and afternoon workouts is relatively marginal. Ultimately, consistency, dedication, and finding a time that fits your schedule and preferences are key to a successful and effective workout routine.