Early morning workouts have become a staple for collegiate and professional athletes. The main reason why workouts are held so early (i.e., between 5:00 – 8:00 am) is because class schedules make it difficult for the team to train later in the day. In addition, afternoons are typically reserved for practices. Some coaches may even schedule early morning workouts as a form of mental toughness training or to try and get athletes to get to bed at an early hour. Military-style training undoubtedly has had some influence over this practice. While morning training may be the most convenient time to schedule training, it may come at the sacrifice of sleep quantity and performance.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research evaluated the effect of time of day training on markers of fatigue and performance. A group of NCAA Division 1 male basketball players (n = 10) were monitored throughout a 5-week preseason training period. Players trained three times per week either in the morning (~7 am) or afternoon (~1 pm). Before each training session, players performed readiness testing via Omegawave which allegedly provides information pertaining to central nervous system function. After Omegawave testing, self-reported sleep duration was recorded and countermovement jump testing was administered. Number of workouts in the morning and in the afternoon were even among all players. Retrospectively, the authors compared Omegawave readiness, sleep quantity and countermovement jump performance between morning and afternoon training sessions.
The results showed that average counter movement jump height was significantly greater in the afternoon sessions (61.9 cm) compared with morning sessions (58.9 cm). Similarly, countermovement jump power output followed the same trend with afternoon values (6622.1 W) being significantly greater than morning values (6378.0 W). Self-reported sleep duration was significantly lower for the morning workouts (6.6 hours) compared with afternoon workouts (7.4 hours). No significant differences were found for Omegawave readiness values between morning and afternoon workout times. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that suggests that early morning workouts may not be optimal for performance or sleep quantity.
Heishman, A. D., Curtis, M. A., Saliba, E., Hornett, R. J., Malin, S. K., & Weltman, A. L. (2017). Comparing Performance during Morning vs. Afternoon Training Sessions in Intercollegiate Basketball Players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.