When Is The Best Time To Go To The Gym?


One of the most common questions that new prospective gym members ask when they first sign up for a gym membership is, “When is the best time to go to the gym?”

This question can actually be answered in different ways, depending on exactly what is meant by the “best time.“ When is the best time to work out at the gym to avoid crowds? Or, when is the gym least busy?

Or, when is the best time to go to the gym to optimize your performance?

Keep reading to find out when the best time to go to the gym will be for your workout routine.

We will cover: 

  • Is It Better to Work Out At the Gym Or At Home?
  • When Is the Best Time to Go to the Gym?
  • When Is the Best Time to Go to the Gym for Top Performance?

Let’s get started!

People in a gym running and walking on treadmills.

Is It Better to Work Out At The Gym Or At Home?

Although home workouts can be effective and have their benefits, there is something to be said about the accountability and structure of exercising at a gym versus doing home workouts.

While it can be convenient to work out at home, it can also be equally “convenient” to find excuses for distractions that ultimately get in the way of putting your all into your workout or even getting your workout done in the first place.

With the couch right there, a stack of dishes in the sink that need to be washed, your kids who are clamoring for attention, or any number of other competing activities or more alluring options beckoning you, some people find that it is difficult to stay focused and self-disciplined enough to stick with a home workout routine.

On the other hand, if you make a deliberate trip to the gym every day for your exercise, it automatically sets your mind on exercising.

A home gym is as much a “home “ as it is a “gym,” but the real gym is just that—a gym—a place to work out.

There are fewer distractions, and once you have overcome the hurdle to actually get there, you are ready to put all of your energy and attention into working out.

Two people on exercise balls doing a tricep extension.

When Is the Best Time to Go to the Gym?

If you want to have full reign of the exercise equipment and do not want to have to be waiting for a machine, or if you feel self-conscious and intimidated by the gym and you want to go during the quietest hours, the best time to go to the gym will be when the gym is least busy.

Therefore, when you are signing up for a new membership, if this is your primary concern, make sure to ask the membership team member, “When is the gym least busy?”

Different gyms will have different peak hours, depending on the primary demographics of the member base and the location.

For example, a corporate gym located in an office building for employees will tend to be most crowded during the lunch break hours, as well as right before and right after the work day.

A boutique fitness studio that offers only group exercise classes will have a different clientele and different peak hours.

A woman on a treadmill smiling.

With that said, in general, most gyms have similar patterns of foot traffic and peak hours.

The majority of people work during the day, so they tend to fit their exercise into a daily schedule before or after work hours. As such, gyms tend to be busiest in the morning upon opening until about 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning, as well as in the evenings between 5 PM and closing.

The quietest hours at most gyms tend to be in the mid-morning and early afternoon, avoiding the lunchtime rush.

When Is the Best Time to Go to the Gym for Top Performance?

The other temporal consideration regarding when the best time to go to the gym has less to do with the crowdedness of the gym itself, but rather what is the best time to go to the gym to have a good workout.

In other words, when is the best time of day to exercise when you are looking to maximize your athletic performance?

There have been some research studies that suggest that working out in the afternoon or evening is optimal for the body from a performance standpoint.

A crowded gym floor.

For example, one study found that time to exhaustion while performing endurance exercise was 20% greater in the evening compared to the morning. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2) was also 4% higher, and anaerobic capacity was 7% higher in the evening vs. morning workouts. 

Additionally, according to research, muscles and joints are up to 20% more flexible in the evening and are consequently less prone to injury than they are during morning workouts. 

Ultimately, unless you are specifically trying to avoid going to the gym when it is most crowded and prioritizing how quiet versus crowded it will be, it makes the most sense to consider what time of day works best for you. 

Consider the practicality in terms of the logistics of your schedule as well as how your body personally feels and functions exercising at different times of the day.

For instance, if you have young kids at home and your partner gets home from work earlier than you, it might be best to go to the gym right after work. 

A crowded gym with people working out and personal trainers.

On the other hand, if you like to get your workout done first thing in the morning before the busyness of the day can potentially derail your plans or zap your energy, going to the gym first thing in the morning will be best.

There isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong” time of the day to go to the gym or a single “best time” to go to the gym that will apply equally to everyone.

Moreover, you may find that the best time to go to the gym every day depends on the type of workout that you are doing. 

Although there is something to be said about the benefit of having a consistent workout routine in terms of promoting the formation of a habit that will help promote consistency, being “consistent“ doesn’t have to entail working out at the exact same time every single day.

You might find that you prefer doing your cardio workouts first thing in the morning, but you feel stronger and more primed to have better strength training workouts if you go to the gym in the evening.

A crowded gym with people spotting each other doing an inclined bench press.

Therefore, your consistent workout routine might look something like morning workouts Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for a cardio session and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday nights for a resistance training workout.

Unless your schedule is inflexible to the extent that you have to go to the gym at just one specific time of day every day, you can also experiment and try going to the gym at different times of the day to see what feels best for you. 

Some people assume that they will be morning exercisers but find that they actually feel strongest and most ready to push their body in the afternoon or evenings. 

On the other hand, plenty of people tend to feel sluggish in the morning and can’t imagine doing a hard workout, but after adjusting over the course of a couple of weeks, they find that going to the gym in the morning actually works best.

Particularly if you are new to fitness or have not been feeling motivated, strong, or otherwise happy with your current gym schedule, trying something different is a great way to see if you can make your workout routine work better for you.

A person doing mountain climbers with a medicine ball. When is the best time to go to the gym?

Keep in mind that if you end up finding that the gym is just too crowded when you are actually able to go or that it takes too much time and energy to add commuting to and from the gym into your already busy schedule, working out at home can be a great alternative. 

There are many fitness apps that offer bodyweight cardio and strength training workouts, or you can invest in just a few pieces of exercise equipment and still perform a great well-rounded, total-body workout routine. 

Alternatively, you can supplement your gym sessions with home workouts to split the difference.

It doesn’t matter where you exercise. As long as you are safe and able to move your body and perform different types of exercise, your workout routine can take place anywhere that works best for you.

If you are new to the gym, you may want some help getting up to speed with gym lingo and jargon. For a complete list of important gym terms to know, check out our helpful guide:

33 Gym Terms You Need To Know For Your First Workout

A person working out at home.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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