Resistance exercise stimulates muscle growth, strength, and functionality (Camera, 2018), although the inter-individual variability in response is hyooge. People used to think there were "responders" and "non-responders," although now we know everyone benefits but there's a wide spectrum. WHY?
Exercise timing? There are definitely circadian clock genes and rhythmic expression of many genes involved in muscle growth, strength, and functionality.
Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior in general is bad. Physical activity is good. Load-bearing resistance is exercise is better. Is proper circadian timed exercise even better? Can you get slightly better benefits at the same workload?
WHY is this important?!
The number one cause of reduced quality of life in the elderly is declining physical function. It really sucks not being able to get into and out of a chair with ease. Exercise can prevent that. And in people with a reduced capacity for exercise, the slight edge from circadian timing may allow them to make more progress with a lower workload. But come on, we'd all like an edge!
Role of circadian clocks: animal studies. Whole body and muscle-specific BMAL1 knockouts have decreased muscle strength. Rev-erb knockouts have lower exercise capacity. There are a few others and exercise helps them.
A few epic human studies showing an edge to AM exercise, co-entrained to the master clock with sunlight and peripheral clocks with breakfast in the morning.
One study showed habitual morning exercise increased strength in the morning more than in the evening (strength at both times improved), whereas exercise in the evening only increased strength in the evening (Souissi et al., 2002).
Another study showed greater muscle hypertrophic response to exercise performed in the morning than in the evening (Krcmorova et al., 2018).
Previous studies showed performance was greater in the afternoons although more recent studies show habitual training in the morning quickly blunts and eventually reverses that (Sedliak et al., 2007, 2009).
Exercise in the morning also tightens up the cortisol awakening response, returning cortisol levels down to normal more quickly (Sedliak et al., 2007). Testosterone is also higher in the morning, and the exercise-induced increase in growth factor signaling also helps.
My current routine is: breakfast (usually leftovers and pretty protein-rich), sunlight (walk to the gym), then exercise. And I think there's enough evidence to suggest something like this may be worth a shot!
That's all for now!
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