What is the best time of day to workout? For Police Officers and First Responders working shift work, is it better to workout before or after your shift?
By: Effective Fitness Training
One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at EFT is “should I work out before or after shift?" Another question we are often asked is, "is it better to work out in the morning or the evening?” Today, we are going to answer both of these questions.
To begin, let’s take a look at some research. A 2019 study compared two groups; one that trained in the morning and another that trained in the evening. The study showed that both groups saw similar improvements in strength and endurance while there was no significant difference found in quality of sleep reported (1).
Now I know you might be saying to yourself, "but I don’t have the energy to go to the gym in the morning.” What we have observed working with our athletes who have converted to an early AM training routine is that there is often an acute performance deficit or decrease in the first 1-3 weeks of training. They may not feel like themselves at the start, but after that initial 1-3 weeks, their body adapts and becomes acclimated to training at the earlier time. In time, their training will progress identically to those who train in the evening.
As first responders we understand shift work. Shift times vary between career field and agency. Regardless, we recommend a pre-shift or pre-work (AM) training session. Here is why:
- Your training program should not be so fatiguing that it crushes you before shift. Remember you still have to be able to perform. If your training destroys you, we highly suggest looking for a new program.
- If you can work out pre-shift (AM) it will help you keep a higher energy level throughout the remainder of the day.
- If you wait until post-shift (PM), your level of focus is usually decreased. Motivation to work out or exercise in the evening is typically decreased due to fatigue from your long day. After all, swiping on The Gram all day is hard work!
- Pre or Post Shift, AM or PM: Your goal should be to workout at least 3 times a week…at the minimum. Aim for 5 days a week with 2 rest days. Regardless of fatigue, motivation, etc...people depend on you. You depend on you.
- The key is to develop a consistent training schedule. Train around the same days and times each week for optimal progress.
- Listen to your body: there is a difference between lazy and physical fatigue and injury.
A Few Tips That Will Support Your Training
- Get sleep. We know that it can be tough and getting 8 hours of sleep is rare occurrence in the first responder field. Try to stay off your phone 1 hour before bed. Decompress: Foam roll, stretch, etc.
- Diet: Eat for your goals. Make sure your diet consists of good fats, carbs and protein. Our subscribers will soon see multiple articles on nutrition.
- Do not train through injury; train around it.
In Part 2, we'll dive a little deeper into this and a few other valuable and relevant topics. Be sure you're subscribed so you don't miss out. Click here to get more: www.effective.fitness/221b
Got a question? Our team of Physical Therapists, Strength and Conditioning Coaches and Active/Former LEOs are all here to answer your questions 24/7/365. Visit www.effective.fitness/221b today.
“Small changes may not yield expected results. However, making multiple small changes in the right direction will lead you to success” – Adam J. (Founder EFT)
1: Küüsmaa-Schildt M, Liukkonen J, Vuong MK, Nyman K, Häkkinen K, Häkkinen A. Effects of morning vs. evening combined strength and endurance training on physical performance, sleep and well-being. Chronobiol Int. 2019 Jun;36(6):811-825. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2019.1592184. Epub 2019 Apr 5. PubMed PMID: 30950283.