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Time of the day, strength training and muscle gains

Summary of an article testing the outcomes of resistance training performed in the morning versus in the afternoon on muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.

Who

24 healthy males with no resistant training background and not exercising more than once a week within the last 3 years (Finland).

Morning training group
9 males
aged 30.6 (±6.5) years
body weight (end) 78.6 (±8.1) kg
Afternoon training group
7 males
aged 28.6 (±5.1) years
body weight 72.1 (±7.5) kg
Control group
8 males
aged 32.4 (±8.1) years
body weight 78.6 (±8.9) kg

Design

Randomized intervention study.

Morning training group

  • 10 weeks of preparatory training (2 sessions per week scheduled between 5 and 7pm)
  • 10 weeks (weeks 11-20) of supervised training between 7 and 9am: 5 sessions per 2 weeks (weeks 11-15), 3 sessions per week (weeks 16-20)
  • periodized (hypertrophic, high-load, high-speed) program with liniar progression: half squats, loaded squat jumps, leg presses, knee extensions

Afternoon training group

  • 10 weeks of preparatory training (2 sessions per week scheduled between 5 and 7pm)
  • 10 weeks (weeks 11-20) of supervised training between 5 and 7pm: 5 sessions per 2 weeks (weeks 11-15), 3 sessions per week (weeks 16-20)
  • periodized (hypertrophic, high-load, high-speed) program with liniar progression: half squats, loaded squat jumps, leg presses, knee extensions

Control group

  • 10 weeks of preparatory training (2 sessions per week scheduled between 5 and 7pm)
  • weeks 11-20: no training but asked to maintain their physical activity levels from before the study

Outcome measures

  • quadriceps (rectus femoris and vasti) muscles length via MRI
  • muscle volume (cm3) via MRI
  • 1RM half squat
  • maximum isometric strength of the right knee extensors at 90°
  • countermovement jump

half squatsquat to approximately 90° of the knee joint.

Main results

  • No difference between morning and afternoon training groups in quadriceps muscle volume, cross-sectional area and length. Both training groups increased muscle volume, cross-sectional area and length significantly when compared to the control.
  • Both training groups improved 1RM squat when compared to the control.
  • Both training groups improved their isometric peak torque during max knee extension when compared to the control group. During weeks 11 to 20, only afternoon training improved significantly.

Take home message

For a clinician
10 weeks of periodized liniary progressed resistance training resulted in hypertrophy and increased strength in both morning and afternoon training groups in novice males.
For a parent
Resistant training improved strength and resulted in hypertrophy similarly for morning and afternoon training groups in untrained men.
For an athlete
Resistant training improved strength and resulted in hypertrophy similarly for morning and afternoon training groups in untrained men.

Original article

Sedliak M, Finni T, Cheng S, Lind M, Häkkinen K. Effect of time-of-day-specific strength training on muscular hypertrophy in men. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2009 Dec 1;23(9):2451-7.

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