Should You Work Out Before Or After Work: An Analysis

Should You Work Out Before Or After Work: An Analysis

If you work full-time and have a desire to not turn into a blob of desk chair-shaped fat, you need to hit the gym. But when? Working 50+ hours a week doesn’t leave for a whole lot of free time, and while some people are firmly entrenched in their routine, I personally can’t figure out what works best. Should I wake up early to workout? Should I accept that the gym is going to be packed when I go after work? Should I continue my current routine of doing weights before work so I don’t get too sweaty and cardio in the evening? I just don’t know.

Before Work

Right off the bat, there’s one huge downside: you have to wake up early. To some of you, that may not be a big deal, but I think I’m in the majority that savors every single second of sleep I can get in the mornings. Sure, you’ll feel better when your workout is finished, but when your iPhone alarm goes off at dawn, you’re going to be rethinking exactly how important health or being attractive is to you.

Furthermore, the morning workout adds a lot of complications and added stress. If you want to get a good lift in, you’re going to need something in your stomach as well as some protein afterward. As someone who doesn’t usually eat breakfast, this is adding another ten-ish minutes onto my morning. Also, after eating, I’m going to have to take a shit. Personally, I can shit anywhere, so it doesn’t bother me to grunt one out in the gym bathroom, but I know not everyone shares my laissez-faire attitude. In addition to these extra preparations, you’re also going to have to make sure your gym has showers, and pack deodorant, soap, shampoo, and fit your work clothes into your gym back in a way that doesn’t wrinkle them. Personally, I haven’t been able to figure out a way.

To reiterate, you’re going to have to wake up early, eat, shit, shower, change, and have a prepped bag of work clothes and toiletries. That’s a lot of planning and extra time that, frankly, I can’t always commit to. While it may seem like I’m painting this schedule as all negatives, this isn’t true. Knowing that the rest of the evening is all yours the moment you walk out of work is a huge boost. The work day takes up enough of your time, and being able to see the sun during the week is super important. Also, you feel less lethargic and sharper at work (until you eat lunch and crash).

Final thoughts: Whether this is the right schedule for you is heavily dependent on your job. You work in finance and have to be at work at 7:30 a.m., dressed to kill in a suit? The gym before work is going to be a pain in the ass. However, if like me, you can roll into work at 9:30 a.m. in a t-shirt, getting your workout out of the way is the move.

After Work

You’re basically trading in an extra hour of sleep for an extra hour at the gym, waiting for hundreds of Nike-clad kids your age to get the fuck off your machine so you can get your reps in. Don’t even think about doing legs or chest, because every bench and squat rack is booked up until 8 p.m. The only upside of the mass of humanity is the honeys. You get to catch some eye-candy, whether it’s the guy curling in a cutoff or the chick wearing just a sports bra deep stretching. Realistically, you’re too much of a pussy to actually make a move, but hey, the scenery’s nice. Also, your whole afternoon/evening is gone. If you leave work at 5 p.m. exactly (lucky you), you’re not going to be home and showered until 7 p.m. at the earliest. If you have a social life, which I would recommend, you’re going to miss at least a day or two of your workout every week to see your friends/go on dates/drink by yourself at home. Combine the fact that you have to choose between plans and working out and the fact that you’re exhausted by 5 p.m. and it makes it very hard to get your fat ass to the gym after work.

However, while it’s easier to bail, it’s also easier to go on a whim. All you need to do is pack some shorts, a shirt, and shoes, and you can decide whether or not to go at game time. You can shower at home, change back into your clothes comfortably, and not have to plan out your whole day the day before. If, like me, you’re not a great planner and/or scared of commitment, this is awesome.

Final thoughts: If having a social life during the weeks is important to you, this is not the workout schedule for you. Personally, I like to stick to my routine during the week and save my fun for the weekend, so I don’t mind getting home and having an hour of free time before bed. However, this schedule will likely result in more missed gym days than before work, so keep that in mind.

Verdict: During your lunch break.

If you’re one of the people that has and can afford a gym in their building, congratulations, you’ve officially hit the jackpot. You can get to work a little early, take a long lunch to get your pump on, and have your whole day open once you leave. Sure, you have to eat at your desk, but fuck it, your boss will think you’re working your ass off. Nothing says “crushing life” like bouncing out of the office at 11:30 a.m. in gym clothes and coming back glowing (and maybe a little sweaty) for the second half of your day. You’ll feel like a productivity machine, and everyone will want to be you. If the gym in my building wasn’t roughly half of my salary, I would 100% be hitting it daily during lunch.

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Nick Arcadia

The opposite of a life coach. Email me if you want some bad advice:

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