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Genetics and Your Fitness #1

Did you know you should train based on your chronotype to get the most out of your workouts and fitness journey?

Welcome to fitness in five's blog series on the effects of genetics and fitness! This is the first blog post of the series and if you enjoy (I'm sure you will) please leave a comment and share it to friends and family.

What is a chronotype?

“Are you a Night Owl? Or a Morning Lark?”

This question will help determine what chronotype you belong to. If you feel more alert and energised later on in the day, then most likely you are a Night Owl. Whereas if you are alert and much more energised closer to the time you wake up. If you're unsure, then you can take this test:

"For example, individuals with morning-types prefer to go to bed and wake up very early and engage in activity in the morning, whereas evening-types prefer to go to bed and wake up very late and engage in activity in the evening "

Our 'body-clock' is referred to as circadian rhythm.

How does this affect your performance?

What happens when you feel sluggish at work, school or reading a book? You're mentally not switched on and you're forcing and straining your brain and eyes to keep focused and concentrated. Now, imagine your internal body feeling that same pain and strain while you're working out when it wants to relax... It simply won't be as engaged and battle you to stop. Therefore, we won't be at our strongest while training during this time period.

"The effect of circadian rhythms on sport performance has been well documented, and chronotype has been used to identify optimal periods for exercise and training in athletes."

But we are not all athletes! This is true, however, what this implies that if we work optimally for our body, then we should see results much quicker. When we are more alert and energised, our internal body temperature is much higher and accompanied with the right exercise, your heart needs to pump more blood to expel the heat thus providing an increased calorie and fat burn. So, if your goal is to lose weight or decrease your body fat% this is useful. Furthermore, to gain much more a 'pump' while bodybuilding you'll need more blood flowing in your body which you will achieve.

Modern Life

We know that exercise has many well-established benefits to physical and mental health. However, in our daily lifestyle include many disruptions of our circadian rhythms such as shift work, social jetlag and early-morning schedules. This is associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders and even cancer. Introducing exercise earlier in the day can help with these disruptions.

Morning Lark vs Night Owl

An individual’s chronotype, or morningness–eveningness preference, is determined by circadian biology, age, and genetics"

Now which one is better to be? With how the modern lifestyle is centred more to morning schedules, it would be more beneficial to be a morning 'lark' as a study showed "night owls are significantly sleepier in the morning, making their reaction time slower by 8.4%. They’re also 7.4% weaker (using a maximum grip strength test) than their morning lark counterparts."


Final Verdict

One factor that wasn't touched on too much was the importance of sleep for your fitness goals. While we sleep, our body is rebuilding muscles, recovering from the workout and where the magic body transformation happens. Adopting an earlier circadian rythme would be more beneficial for the average person, this is so there is less reliant on alarms on in the morning to wake up which means we have less control over when we wake-up. Training is important for physical health, changing your body composition and improving mental health. However, if we strain our body for maximal efforts when instead should rest could have adverse impact on our health.

What are your thoughts?


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