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Early bird or night owl? In the higher echelons of sports it matters...

Early bird or night owl? In the higher echelons of sports it matters...
Do you do cycling or triathlon? And have you already reached the higher echelons of your discipline? Then you are probably at an advantage if you are a morning person, write Australian researchers in the Journal of Human Kinetics. And on the basis of their study you would suspect that in a sport such as bodybuilding evening people have an edge.

There are 3 chronotypes: morning people aka the 'early birds', evening people aka the 'night owls' and 'the intermediate types'. Morning people like to get up early, feel the best at that part of the day, and like to go to bed early. Evening people, on the other hand, don't like to get up early in the morning, feel at their best in the evening, and like to go to bed late. The intermediary types are between those two extremes.

The researchers determined the chronotype of 114 Australian top athletes on the basis of questionnaires. The test subjects came from 5 disciplines of sport - cricket, hockey, football, cycling and triathlon. Based on the timing of most training and competitive events, the researchers consider cricket, hockey and football as evening sports, and cycling and triathlon as morning sports.

In the 'morning sports' triathlon and cycling races, the researchers found more morning people than you would expect. In those sports they also found no or few evening people.

Early bird or night owl? In the higher echelons of sports it matters...

Early bird or night owl? In the higher echelons of sports it matters...

That is no coincidence, the researchers think. They suspect that morning people are not only attracted to morning sports more often, but may also be at their advantage in these disciplines - and therefore may be more likely to reach to the higher echelons.

"It is recommended that coaches consider the athlete's chronotype during selection processes or if possible design and implement changes to training schedules to either suit the athlete's chronotype or the timing of an upcoming competition", the Australians write.

Wild speculation
The researchers did not look at strength sports like bodybuilding, which evening sports. Go and see in any gym, or check the links at the bottom of this page. After reading the Australian study you would suspect that there are a lot of evening people among the athletes who participate in competitions like the Arnold or the Olympia.

J Hum Kinet. 2016 Dec 15;54:219-25.

Combination of strength training and cardio: workout at the end of the day results in more endurance capacity and muscle growth (19.01.2017)
Training in the evening gives you more muscles, more definition 19.11.2009
Bodybuilders who train in the evening grow faster 22.03.2009

Endurance & Cardio Training
Strength Training

Training in the afternoon slightly more effective than in the morning
In the short term it makes no difference whether you pump iron in the morning or afternoon. But if you can choose, then probably in the long term it's better to train in the afternoon.

Endurance performance better late in the afternoon than early in the morning
If you're free to choose what time you get on your bike or put on your trainers, then let go of those romantic notions of early morning training sessions and get a good lie in instead.

You're at your strongest early in the evening
The best time for strength training is around six o'clock in the evening, according to a study done at the French Laboratoire INSERM.