5 Tips to Fit an Effective Evening Workout Into Your Day

After I published my blog post last week about why I wake up every morning at 5 a.m., I was blown away by the insightful questions many of you asked about fitting more meaningful activities into your day, whether that be working out, writing or otherwise.

Interestingly, the majority of your comments focused on wanting to become an early bird to squeeze in a morning workout. But as I read through the comments, I realized that for some of you, this may not be possible. Check out this question from my friend Alex Crispino:

I agree that getting up earlier makes you more productive. I’ve been struggling with trying to fit in the gym. I’m usually on my way to work by 6 a.m. While I do get to work early and am productive, I’m missing the gym. By the time I get home, I’m shot. Any thoughts?

Obviously, if Alex is on her way to work by 6 a.m., a morning workout is not an option. Unless her gym is open 24 hours a day and she wants to wake up in the middle of the night to work out, Alex needs to learn to become an evening gym go-er.

Easier said than done. While I prefer morning workouts, I’d estimate that I’m probably 50/50 when it comes to morning and evening workouts, depending on my schedule for the day. Even though evening workouts can be challenging, especially after a long day at work, it’s definitely possible. Here are 5 tips to fit an effective evening workout into your day:

1. Use your commute to re-charge. Whether you travel home from work by car or by train, use your commute to relax and re-charge. Put on your favorite music; for me, something calming and soothing like John Mayer or Gavin DeGraw usually helps me to relax during my commute. Sometimes I like to schedule phone calls using my Bluetooth for my drive home, but on days that I need to work out directly after work, I like to have quiet time to myself to reflect on the day.

2. Change into your gym clothes before you leave work. This sounds silly, but I swear it works. I haven’t done this in awhile, but I used to religiously change into my work clothes every day at 5 p.m. before I left work. Many people claim that getting out the door is the hardest part of ensuring you get to the gym, but for me, it’s putting on my workout clothes and sneakers. Plus, how many times have you come home with good intentions of going to the gym, but instead of putting on your sneakers, you change into your pajamas? Oops, guilty. By getting changed at work, you’re already a step ahead of the game, and since you’re already dressed for a work out, you might as well do it, right?

3. Hydrate. It’s amazing how much drinking water can change a day for the better or the worse. On days I forget to stay hydrated, or don’t make a concerted effort to drink water, I find that I’m less energized and more sluggish; this certainly doesn’t make me want to head straight to the gym to sweat. But on days I refill my water bottle multiple times, I feel more alive and ready to tackle an evening workout. Even if you haven’t hydrated well all day long, fill your water bottle before you leave work and drink it during your commute home. The H20 will give you an extra boost of energy.

4. Fuel properly. What you eat can often make or break a workout. One of the reasons I love morning workouts is that I exercise on an almost empty stomach, which for me, just seems to work better. However, when you work out at night, you have hopefully eaten at least two meals already for the day. This can make working out a bit more difficult. On evenings I plan to work out, I usually have some kind of healthy snack (I LOVE Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Granola Bars) around 4:30 or 5 p.m. before I leave work. That way, when I get to the gym, I have some fuel in me, but I’m not stuffed or bloated from dinner.

5. Head straight to the gym. Don’t even go home. Sometimes, stepping foot in my house makes it so much more tempting to plop down on the couch and skip my workout. If you can, drive straight from work to the gym (or wherever you plan to work out) and get it done before you’re tempted by the many other activities or tasks that face you at home.

Please keep in mind that these tips are things that have worked personally for me. Every one is different, and I am by no means an expert on any of these topics. The best way to figure out what works for you is to experiment! It takes time to figure out how to squeeze a workout into a busy day, whether that’s in the early morning or late at night, but once you figure it out, your workouts will be so much stronger and more effective.

Do you have any tips for fitting in an evening workout? Share in the comments below!

  • Great post! I was (and still in many ways am) a morning workout-er through and through. However, when I joined a running clinic to train for my marathon last year I had to wrap my head around evening runs. I think the biggest motivator for me when it comes to evening workouts is having people (or a person!) to meet up with. That is what gets me out the door again, because I know there is a group meeting and expecting me.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks Amber! That’s really a good call- I need to find more workout buddies to keep me accountable in the evening!

  • I’m an evening exerciser because I’m not a morning person. I have to pass the gym on my drive home, so it’s hard to make an excuse not to go. I always keep a set of workout clothes in my car-with hair ties (no excuses). I usually try to eat a piece of fruit or something small around 3 so I’m not starving by 5, and yes, water, water, water is so important. On days that I just don’t feel like doing anything I go to the gym anyway and tell myself I only have to run one mile, then I can leave. Sometimes that’s all I do, if I’m truly not feeling it, but most of the time once I’ve worked up a sweat I feel good and I can power through the rest of my planned workout. Then when I get home I hit the shower and immediately repack my bag. It just works better for me.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      That’s great that you pass your gym on your way home. I WISH that was the case for me. I actually have to pass my house, which makes it a lot easier to talk myself out of a workout. Having clothes with you definitely helps though. I love your advice about just getting there and only committing to one mile, if you’re really not feeling it. Thank you for commenting!

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