If you’re a morning person, an evening boot camp class probably sounds like the last thing you want to do after a long day at the office—and if you need to drag yourself out of bed in the morning (after more alarms than you care to admit), an early indoor cycling class might be your nightmare.
Science has an answer for this: In a small study published in Current Biology, researchers tested the athletic performance of early, mid, and late risers at different times throughout the day. What they discovered is that early risers performed best around noon, the intermediates during the late afternoon and the late risers needed more time to get moving (surprise, surprise), showing peak athleticism in the evening. So trying to work against your own sleep schedule to fit in fitness might be making your workouts more challenging than they need to be.
And, this isn’t the first study to demonstrate similar findings. An earlier study found that Major League Baseball players who identified themselves as larks performed better during day games whereas night owls shined during late-afternoon and evening games.
So if you’re a night owl who has an upcoming half-marathon that starts in the early morning, you may want to add “circadian coaching” to your training to help you perform your best on race day. Otherwise, try timing your workouts according to your body’s natural sleep type. Or you know, form a pick-up basketball team around a roster of players with likeminded sleep patterns and schedule practice accordingly.