If you’re anything like me, working out at the end of your day seems a lot tougher than at the beginning. That’s because, by the time 5 o’clock rolls around, I’m tired–maybe even stressed from work, and my motivation is harder to muster. Not to mention, evening workouts can wreak havoc on sleep.
However, despite all this, late-in-the-day exercise often can’t be avoided. Whether it’s a scheduling issue or you’re doubling down on your training, knowing how to fuel your night-time workouts will give you the energy you need to attack them head-on, and ensure you still get a good night’s sleep.
Thankfully, through years of self-experimentation and personalized insights from WHOOP, I’ve narrowed the evening workout fueling strategy down to my four-point plan below:
When was your last meal? The biggest challenges with training after a long work day, or anytime after dark, is that it’s usually been 4 or more hours since your last full meal. You need to top-up your tank before you go out training with something that will satiate you, but not make you feel bloated. Ideally you should have your pre-workout fuel about one hour before exercising at night.
Low-carb bars are great options to tide you over without worrying about a late-night sugar buzz (and dreaded crash). If you want a bit more of a boost, try a recovery shake. They can be great carb/protein options that are easy to digest and perfect pre-workout. I also recommend possibly boosting it with a scoop of collagen, which is best absorbed when taken about 45 minutes prior to exercise.
Caffeine is a popular performance enhancer for athletes with a proven track record for reducing fatigue and increasing muscular strength. Unfortunately caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours, and if consumed within 6-8 hours of bedtime it can disrupt even the best of sleepers.
A good backup option is amino acids. Studies indicate that ingestion of BCAA (branched chain amino acids) reduces the perceived exertion and mental fatigue during exercise. Plus, they set you up for locking in your performance gains.
I find that evening workouts, especially high-intensity training, can have me fading hard halfway through and unable to reach my WHOOP strain goal. For this reason, I prefer to move from my normal low-calorie hydration to a slightly higher-calorie option (more sugar). The extra sugar gives me the kick I need to finish my workouts at night strong.
Once your workout is complete, it’s probably time for dinner and then bed. If you struggle to wind down and fall asleep like I do, then you may want to try either a Melatonin-focused supplement, or a high-dose CBD supplement to switch your nervous system from “fight or flight” into “rest and relax.”
My favorite post-workout melatonin product is Elite Sleep from Momentous. One thing I really like about it is that it also provides you with a healthy dose of magnesium. Magnesium can be helpful to calm overactive muscles, which is often a big culprit in preventing sleep after evening workouts.
Many WHOOP members use the Journal Feature to track the impact CBD has on their sleep and other metrics. For me personally, it definitely helps!
And there you have it, an easy four-step plan for powerful evening workouts. I hope you find these tips as helpful as I do. By planning correctly, you should be able to keep your night-time training at a high strain without impacting your next-day recovery.