For some people, getting up early and hitting the gym is the only way to start the day, while others prefer to exercise right after work. Some folks, though, don’t have time in the morning or late afternoon, and nighttime is the only time to squeeze in a workout. And that’s okay; there is no “perfect time” to exercise.
In fact, working out at night has a couple of advantages, including stress relief and increased strength because you’ve been fueling up all day.
To get the most out of your late workout, there are a few exercises you should include in your routine that will work your whole body and help you wind down for a restful night.
Cardio workouts are exercises that increase your breathing and heart rate, burning calories and fat and improving your cardiovascular health. At night, walking or jogging on a treadmill might be a better option than exercising outside, or you could try an elliptical trainer, exercise bike or jumping rope.
Push-ups are one of the best exercises for strengthening your back and upper body, and they rely only on your own body weight for resistance. There are also different variations you can try by spacing your hands farther or closer together, using just one hand or lifting one leg. To make them less challenging, try keeping your knees on the floor to make them less challenging.
Bicep and Tricep Work
Another way to tone up your arms is to use dumbbells and some basic exercises with your biceps and triceps. Overhead triceps extensions, biceps curls and presses are standard moves with these weights, and each will work your upper arms in different ways.
Sit-ups or Crunches
Sit-ups and crunches will work your abs, obliques and other core muscles. Like push-ups, there are also a few different styles that can work different areas or increase the intensity of the exercise. For instance, elbow to knee crunches exercise your obliques, while reverse crunches rely on lifting your lower body rather than your upper body.
Another core exercise is the plank, and it’s harder than it looks. To do it, put your body in a starting push-up position, but keep your forearms on the ground. Engage your core and keep your back and legs straight to hold the position. This deceptively simple exercise will work your abs and back, and side planks will work your rears and hips as well.
Lunges engage most of the muscles in your lower half, including your lower abs, glutes, hips, thighs and calves, and they’re done by taking a large step forward and dropping one knee as close to the ground as possible.
Working your thighs, butt and core, practicing squats during your nighttime exercise routine will strengthen and tone your legs and rear. Whether you do a basic front squat, a jump squat or add weights to make it even more challenging, this is an excellent lower body exercise that should be included.
Exercises like glute bridges and glute activation lunges will work out your butt, thighs and lower back muscles, strengthening your core and firming your rear and legs. Bridges are done by lying on the floor and simply raising your hips, while glute activation lunges are a more advanced move that starts like a standard lunge, but you cross one leg over the other and twist your body to engage your glutes.
Some relaxing yoga poses will help you wind down after more strenuous exercises, and they’ll also help with flexibility. Downward facing dog provides an excellent calf stretch and also works your arms and core, while a seated twist exercises your back and sides.
Stretching is essential after any workout to ease tension in your muscles and help prevent injury, and a stretch routine that gently works all your major muscle groups is ideal before bed. Start from the top with neck stretches, then work your way down, stretching your arms, back, sides and legs to help your body recover from your workout.
Adam Johnson is a professional blogger that shares tips and advice on fitness and nutrition. He writes for Fitness 19, a leading fitness center with locations nationwide.