While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, I find people who manage to rise with the sun and hit the gym before work thoroughly annoying.
Sure, jealously plays a significant part in all this; I'd love to not love lying in bed until the last possible moment. But mostly what irks me about these chipper dawn patrollers is they seldom miss an opportunity to lord their pre-9 A.M. productivity over you, usually with a not-too-sly brag cloaked in an off-hand remark. (Example: "You have to hear the latest WTF podcast—I was cracking up so hard I could hardly finish my 10-mile morning run!")
Well, a growing body of evidence now says the best time to lose weight, build muscle, and achieve peak performance is actually in the evening, when most Americans work out.
Take that, sunrise boy.
For fat loss, your metabolism is firing at full bore in the evening, so you can net more benefits in less time. Several studies also show that you can build more lean muscle and burn more fat if you schedule your weights and cardio classes after sundown. And thanks to our circadian rhythms, we are at our fastest and strongest between 7 P.M. and 11 P.M., according to researchers at the University of South Carolina. Our slowest and weakest time of day: 7 A.M.
Still, if you are a morning person, keep it up. The bottom line is that working out is good for you no matter when you do it. Just know we late risers who hit the gym after work are getting a little more out of it. We'll try not to rub it in.
—Mike Dawson is a magazine writer and editor and a regular contributor to Details.