Morning vs. evening: when is the best time to exercise?


We all have a favourite workout time. For some, it’s first thing in the morning. For others, it’s squeezed into a lunch break or after the 9-5 slog is up. You probably base PT appointments on when it’s convenient or when you feel most fired-up. But what would your fitness schedule look like if you based it on optimal performance?

There’s a long-running debate over whether morning or evening workouts are best. And, the truth is, both have their perks, depending on what your fitness goals are. Here, we’re revealing the benefits of both AM and PM exercise, so you can find a workout schedule that works just right for you...

The morning workout

If one of your goals is to lose weight, some experts believe your best time to work out is in the morning. This is because, when you wake up, you tend to have higher levels of cortisol and growth hormones. These hormones aid metabolism, which allows you to draw more energy from your fat reserves as your AM exercise becomes more intense.

A morning workout can also be good for your mental health, as it kick-starts your day with a release of feel-good endorphins. Cue a positive, productive mood that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Research also suggests that healthy habits are easier to stick to if you do them in the morning. So, if motivation is low, consider an early session that gets you up and out.


The afternoon workout

Like that morning workout, an afternoon class is also good for your mental health. In fact, it might be just what you need to hit reset on a stressful day. Heading to the studio during or after your lunch break will give you a major pick-me-up, which will take you through to the afternoon feeling happier and more rewarded.

Plus, an afternoon workout might help you sleep better later that night. It’s not just a case of wearing yourself out – it all comes to your built-in ‘thermostat’. According to the Sleep Foundation, your body temperature rises when you exercise, then as you cool back down you can experience feelings of drowsiness. Working out in the afternoon gives your core temperature time to readjust, so by the time you go to bed, that sleepy, lethargic feeling kicks in.


The evening workout

Some believe a nighttime class might make them feel too pumped just before they go to bed. However, getting in an energetic session may help you drift off to sleep far quicker. Again, your internal ‘thermostat’ comes into play here, causing drowsiness as it dials back down. You can boost the effects by ending your workout with cool-down exercises, like stretching and yoga.

Meanwhile, according to a study by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, an afternoon or early evening workout may allow for peak muscle-building performance. This, they say, is down to fluctuations in hormone levels and your core body temperature. If enhancing strength is your goal, try booking in for a PM session.

Plus, there are few things better for a busy brain than an end-of-day workout. Sometimes, you need to draw a line under a hectic day with a PT session that’s all about you. Ultimately, our tip is to talk to your Artisan trainer about the results you hope to achieve. We can help you find a routine that helps you smash your goals, all while fitting around your lifestyle.

Up next: read up on the five ways to ease post-workout DOMS – no matter what time you exercise.

5 ways to ease post-workout DOMS


We’ve all experienced that post-workout ache one or two days after an intense training session. It’s known as DOMS, which aptly stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. Some strive for that burn, believing it must be a sign that they’re getting fitter… right? But, while it does point to an increase in intensity, dealing with daily DOMS can be debilitating.

So, how do you ease the ache to avoid a break between training sessions? Here, we reveal five ways to soothe sore muscles and avoid injury…

1. Consume caffeine

Not only is caffeine the ultimate fuel for your day; it’s also said to reduce DOMS. According to a study in the Journal of Pain, drinking coffee pre-workout resulted in a 48% drop in DOMS for participating exercisers. Caffeine is a natural analgesic (pain reliever), which explains why you often find it in painkillers or flu medicines. Turns out, drinking that AM espresso could also work wonders at preparing your body for a tough session.

Take note, though: those involved in the study drank two cups of coffee one hour before their workout. Two cups is a lot of caffeine, so adjust based on what your body can take. If the buzz is too extreme, scale it back to one cup with a substantial meal or snack. It may reduce the pain-relieving powers, but it should keep any jitters at bay.


2. Drink plenty of water

It goes without saying that you need to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. H20 contributes to better sleep, more energy, clearer skin, better digestion and so. much. more.

Water is also said to lubricate muscles, making movement easier. Plus, it’s thought to speed up recovery time by flushing pain-causing toxins out of your body. Drink up.


3. Get a massage

A massage is so much more than an indulgence. In fact, a 2015 study showed that massaged muscles contain more blood vessels than massage-free ones, which may result in improved post-fitness recovery.

Have one monthly to maintain muscle health and reduce DOMS (so you can hit your next workout so much harder). By booking massages with Artisan Sports Therapy, your personal trainer and sports therapist can work together to find a treatment that enhances the results of your fitness regimen.


4. Supercharge a bath

When your body is cold, your muscles constrict, which can maximise any existing pain. That’s why a hot bath is often recommended to reduce body aches. To take it to the next level, sprinkle two cups of epsom salts into a tub of warm water, ensuring you pour it under a running tap to help the salts dissolve faster.

It’s believed that, because epsom salts are a rich source of soothing magnesium, they may eke out pain and dial down DOMS, so you won’t be wincing as you walk. However, there’s not yet scientific evidence to confirm a link between epsom salts and relaxed muscles. Simply take it as a good excuse for a long post-workout soak.


5. Catch up on sleep

Prioritise a good night’s sleep post-workout – and every day, if you can. This allows your body to recover and recuperate, so muscle micro-tears have time to repair. It’s these tiny tears that cause your body to feel sore after a particularly hardcore session. By getting at least seven or eight hours of rest, you can regenerate – ready for your next PT appointment.

Up next: discover how exercise improves your mental health. Plus, read up on why protein is essential for enhancing your workout.

Can muscle memory help you regain pre-lockdown fitness?


If you’re wondering whether lockdown has thrown off your fitness journey, you’re not alone. Unless you’ve signed up for our Train Away programme, chances are you haven’t trained as hard without a PT to push you. However, whether you’ve been working out at home or taking a break from the burn, there’s one good reason to feel confident in your post-lockdown fitness. Enter something called ‘muscle memory’.

What is muscle memory?

Good question. You might have heard the term ‘muscle memory’ thrown around before, but you may not be aware of how it works, or why it could benefit your body. Put simply, the theory behind muscle memory is that your muscles remember your fitness history, making it easier to get back into your workout routine after a break.

Even if you’ve lost some muscle over the course of the past year, your muscle memory will help you regain your gains quickly once you start training again. It’s good news for anyone who worries that their hard work pre-lockdown has gone to waste. And, better yet – it could mean delayed muscle onset soreness (DOMS) is reduced when you return to your PT.


So, how does muscle memory work?

There are two types of muscle memory we hear about. The first is better known as ‘motor learning’, and it applies to the practice of doing something so many times (like a workout) that it becomes a habit. The other, according to studies, is all about your myonuclei. These are the many thousands of tiny ‘control centres’ (nuclei) that manage the growth and repair of muscle fibres.

The bigger a muscle fibre is, the more myonuclei it has. This means when you build a muscle up, you’re building more myonuclei, too. You might think that losing muscle mass would result in a loss of myonuclei, but research suggests that these teeny control centres stay around – even while you’re taking a break from training.

It’s thanks to these myonuclei that your muscles feel more prepared for a return to working out. They aid growth, helping you achieve gains quicker than if you were starting from scratch. That’s not to say that you’ll be instantly back on the same level you were at six months ago, but muscle memory means you should find it easier to get back into your routine.


How can I ‘trigger’ muscle memory?

You can’t trigger it exactly. Your muscles gained those myonuclei when you were training hard, so muscle memory should begin to kick in from your very first Artisan PT session. There are a host of other ways you can get back to fighting fit post-lockdown. Follow these four steps for a full-force return to personal training...

1. Get moving again

You don’t have to work out on the level you were reaching with your trainer just yet. The burn is coming. Instead, ease your way in with easy exercise, like a thrice weekly run or some living room yoga.

2. Talk to your trainer

If you’re nervous, talk to your Artisan PT trainer about any reservations you might have. There’s no judgement here; we’ll simply figure out a plan that gets you hitting your fitness goals once again.

3. Take your time

Even with muscle memory at play, DOMS can and will happen when you go back to training. That’s why we recommend taking your time and listening to your body. We’ll tailor your post-lockdown fitness plan to ensure your muscles have time to recover between workouts.

4. Try sports therapy

Now is the perfect time to explore sports therapy (if you haven’t already). It promotes muscle maintenance, helping you avoid injury as you ramp up the intensity and weights. We recently opened our own clinic, Artisan Sports Therapy, which offers everything from yoga to physio to acupuncture. Better still, your sports therapist and PT can work together for a holistic approach to fitness.

Looking for more post-lockdown fitness advice? Read up on the real benefits of weight training versus cardio.

5 ways exercise improves your mental health

When it comes to fitness goals, there are few more vital than ‘better mental health’. It’s one of the very best outcomes of a regular workout routine. You know exercise is good for you, but do you know what it can do to improve your mood? Let’s look at its effects on stress, sleep, depression and anxiety…



1. It releases feel-good hormones

You’ve probably heard of serotonin. It’s known as ‘the feel-good hormone’ because it helps to boost your mood and increase your sense of wellbeing. There are a host of ways you can trigger it – with sunlight, a massage or by eating tryptophan-rich foods – but exercise is one of the most commonly used because it’s so quick and easy. Try a workout that gets your heart rate up (like a boxing session with one of our trainers) to boost the flow of serotonin and experience those mood-elevating effects.


2. It enables better sleep

It makes sense that pushing your body to its limits is going to make you feel more tired. But, did you know? There are studies to back up your workout’s sleep-boosting benefits, too. It’s not just a case of wearing yourself out; according to the Sleep Foundation, the relaxing effects come down to how exercise impacts your body’s core temperature.


When you exercise, your ‘internal thermostat’ dials up a few degrees, but later in the day it drops, which triggers feelings of drowsiness. Experts recommend working out in the morning or the afternoon to see these effects, as the evening might not allow enough time for your temperature to readjust. As for how this improves your mental health, we all feel better after a good night’s sleep. While it might not eliminate your worries, a little extra rest can help you start your day on a more positive note.


3. It reduces depression

Researchers at the University College London found increasing physical activity from nothing to three workouts per week reduced depression by 20%. In fact, the NHS prescribes physical activity as a form of therapy, while the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends regular exercise for those suffering from mild to moderate depression.


4. It helps you manage stress

When you’re pumping iron or hitting a heavy bag, you’re directing your mental energy away from a rush of busy thoughts, helping to distract your mind from your day-to-day worries. But that’s not the only way exercise dials down stress. The Stress Management Society says that it also fulfils your body’s reflexive response to stressors.


Think of how you feel when you’re stressed. Does your heart rate quicken? This is because your adrenal glands are producing epinephrine, also known as ‘adrenaline’. At this point, your body is in a heightened state to react, and it expects some kind of physical activity as a form of release. That’s where exercise comes in. It’s a great way of utilising all that extra adrenaline you’ve built up. Just make sure the intensity is high, your focus is sharp and your movements are consistent.


5. It encourages teamwork

This is especially true with a personal trainer. One of the best things about working out is having a teammate to spur you on; someone who pushes you hard and celebrates your wins. The social ties you form can also inspire self-confidence, reducing any feelings you might have of isolation or loneliness.


Fitness tips for better mental health

  • Try one-on-one training: If being in a busy gym makes you feel anxious, opt for one-to-one personal training. Having a ‘teammate’ in a private studio feels far less daunting, allowing you to focus on your fitness instead of those around you.


  • Track your goals with weight training: There are many reasons we work out, and a sense of achievement is high on the list. Weight training is our go-to for that ‘crushed it’ feeling because there are so many easily measurable goals to set, like working with heavier weights or increasing reps.


  • Talk to your trainer: Tell your Artisan PT trainer about what you hope to achieve from exercise, and we’ll find a routine that speaks to your mood, with a focus on feel-good, empowering workouts. We’ll also be able to recommend foods that benefit your mental health, so you can take a holistic approach to gaining a calmer mindset.

Looking for more exercise advice? Discover the benefits of weight training vs. cardio.

Here’s why protein is essential for exercise

Ever wondered why your trainer tells you to add plenty of protein to your diet? Discover how it upgrades your fitness regimen with Artisan PT’s complete protein guide....

What is protein?

Protein has a reputation for increasing muscle mass – and it does it well – but this macronutrient plays a far bigger role in maintaining your health. It also provides the amino acids required to build new cells, and proteins are often referred to as the ‘building blocks’ of your body. Put simply, they’re essential for survival..

What will protein do for my muscles?

First up, let’s talk #gains. Despite popular belief, protein doesn’t equal instant muscles, and it isn’t going to cause you to bulk up – that comes down to your go-to workout. The role of protein is to support, repair and strengthen your muscles, whether you’re doing exercises designed to build up mass, or focusing on moves that make you feel leaner and longer.

The trick is to talk to your Artisan PT trainer about the kind of tone you’re going for, and they’ll tailor your fitness routine to help you smash your goals. Then, the protein – rich in essential amino acids – will allow your muscles to rebuild and recover, so you’re fighting (extra) fit for the next sweat session.

What are the other benefits of protein?

As well as recharging muscles post-workout, protein makes you feel fuller for longer, so you’re not constantly craving snacks or feeling hungry minutes after lunch. It also boosts your metabolism – perfect if weight loss is one of your fitness goals – so you burn up calories quicker, whether you’re doing a workout or just going for a walk. Plus, because of its muscle-strengthening properties, it’s going to keep your body in its best working order as you get older. It’s the easiest way to future-proof your fitness levels.

When should I have protein?

We recommend adding protein to every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – as well as a little before and after each training session. This is because it activates a process called Muscle Protein Synthesis, which builds and repairs your muscles, benefitting every exercise. In order to optimise this process, your body needs protein every three to four hours. So, keep it regular to reap the rewards of a protein-rich diet.

What are the other benefits of protein?

As well as recharging muscles post-workout, protein makes you feel fuller for longer, so you’re not constantly craving snacks or feeling hungry minutes after lunch. It also boosts your metabolism – perfect if weight loss is one of your fitness goals – so you burn up calories quicker, whether you’re doing a workout or just going for a walk. Plus, because of its muscle-strengthening properties, it’s going to keep your body in its best working order as you get older. It’s the easiest way to future-proof your fitness levels.

What foods are high in protein?

There are so many foods high in protein, including red meat, poultry and dairy. That means eggs, chicken, beef, pork, milk and cheese are all on the menu for your healthy food plan. Fish, nuts, seeds and beans are also great sources of protein. Just speak to your Artisan PT trainer for more tips, and they’ll hook you up with some insane recipes.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, we’ve got you covered, too. Tofu, lentils, chickpeas, as well as plant- based protein powders make it easy to fuel your fitness with healthy, muscle-powering foods.

Again, speak to your Artisan PT trainer about the highest-quality vegan protein options, and they’ll map out a bespoke food plan that’s both nutritious and delicious.


How much protein do I need?

It’s the big question with no single answer. Your recommended protein intake comes down to your current body weight, how active you are and how much muscle mass you want to build up. A quick Google will give you endless tips on how to figure out the amount you ‘need’, but a) they’re confusing, b) they’re completely impersonal and c) they rarely cover every factor.

However, at The Artisan PT, we’ll recommend a level of protein that’s right for you, and show you simple ways to hit your target with recipes that slot into your lifestyle. Want in? Sign up for your first consultation at our Wolverhampton studio, and find your ideal food and fitness regimen. Let’s do this.

Looking for more tips on healthy living? Discover the benefits of weight lifting vs. cardio, plus advice on how to use exercise to increase your mental health.

The real benefits of weight training vs. cardio


Cardio, cardio, cardio. When it comes to weight loss, you’ll hear about this heart-pumping exercise over and over again, as if it’s the only route to blitzing fat. But what about weight training? Here, we break down why working the weights section is your go-to for more consistent calorie-torching. Get the full lowdown…


The benefits of cardio

1. It burns calories fast

If you want to blast through those calories with a burst of exercise, high-powered cardio is your quick fix; a short-term strategy for weight loss. The faster you move, the higher your heart rate climbs and the more calories you torch, meaning a run or a speedy cycle can be particularly effective. But, for a serious burn, we recommend a cardio boxing workout. One session can shred up to 1,000 calories, making it one of the highest impact exercises you can do.

2. It boosts your mood

All exercise benefits your mental health, and cardio is no different. There’s something freeing about slotting in some morning sprints or smashing your PB at the pool. It’s easy to lose yourself in your workout when you’re picking up the pace. Plus, according to an issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, it’s believed to reduce both anxiety and depression by increasing blood flow to your brain. Now, if that isn’t a reason to reach for your boxing gloves, we don’t know what is.

3. You can do it (almost) anywhere

Running, walking, jogging, cycling… you can do them anytime, anywhere, making cardio a pretty easy way of keeping active daily. Perfect for fitting in around your training sessions, we’re big fans of a quick, late-night 5k. But, if you want to take advantage of a full-body toning box, you might need to hit the studio.

The benefits of weight training

1. It burns more calories for longer

If you compare a weight training session with a cardio class of the same duration, it’s likely you’re going to see a higher calorie blitz from that killer cardio. However – and this is important to note – weight training continues to burn more calories post-workout, even while your body is at rest. This is because the muscle you build can help increase your resting metabolism, so those calorie-burning benefits keep going for hours (or even days!) after you exercise.

2. It also enhances mental health

Our number one fitness goal is better mental health – always has been – and, like cardio, weight training is said to positively elevate your mood. According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, numerous studies indicate that strength training can lower anxiety while lifting up your self-esteem. Plus, there are few things better for keeping your mind busy than hitting the free weights. And the sense of achievement from pressing 75% of your body weight? There’s nothing like it.

3. It makes you stronger and more toned

For serious sculpting, weight training is the ultimate workout. You get the perfect combination of calorie-crushing and full-body toning in a single session. But, best of all, it increases your strength and makes you feel unstoppable, releasing a rush of endorphins every time you hit another goal. Who doesn’t want to up their strength?

Weight training vs. cardio: what’s the verdict?

When it comes to weight training vs. cardio, you don’t have to pick one over the other. Having a mix of both lets you reap all the mind-calming, body-boosting benefits you see above.

However, we do recommend a weight training-first approach for two reasons: a) it helps you burn more calories for longer and b) the muscles you build will make your cardio work harder. So, get booking your first The Artisan PT consultation, and we’ll find a weight training routine that works for you – plus a few boxing sessions to help you cover off your cardio.


Looking for more health and fitness tips? Discover the benefits of protein, including the many ways it helps to enhance your exercise.