The Sports Biorhythm
by John Harris Fitness
There are two types of people: those who would rather crawl back under the warm covers when the alarm rings in the morning and those who eagerly jump into the shower. What determines whether you're a morning person or a night owl is your internal clock, which ticks a bit differently for everyone. While this internal clock, or biorhythm, is highly individual, there are certain commonalities among everyone's human biorhythm. And what does this have to do with sports? A lot, actually! Depending on the phase your body is in, you can either be more or less performance-ready. With a busy daily routine and limited time, aligning your exercise program with your natural biorhythm can help you get the most out of your workout.
What is Biorhythm?
The literal mastermind behind your internal clock is an area in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This is where the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin and its opposing wakefulness hormone serotonin is regulated. The resulting biorhythm determines when we wake up and when we feel tired, which also corresponds to our performance levels. These curves are largely determined by genetics but can also result from habitual patterns. Even though a rhythm tends to be recurring, it's important to note that the body can still experience exceptions. So, if you feel tired and sluggish at your usual peak performance time, don't be discouraged – it happens.
The remaining question is: How does the biorhythm actually flow? As mentioned earlier, the precise effects and processes are naturally individual to each person, but there are certain parameters that can be generalized.
- Mornings: 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM
Upon waking, cortisol levels are relatively high, boosting heart rate and blood pressure as cortisol is the stress hormone. However, body temperature is still relatively low, and muscles and tendons aren't warmed up. We recommend moderate training during this time, ideally after having breakfast. For your meal, opt for something nutrient-rich and not too heavy on the stomach, such as a banana or a granola bar.
- Late Morning: 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Cortisol levels remain high during this time, contributing to heightened concentration and performance. If your schedule allows, engaging in a challenging endurance workout is recommended, taking advantage of your physical peak performance.
- Midday: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
It's best not to dedicate this time to exercise, as the body is busy digesting lunch and focusing all its energy on that. This often leads to the well-known midday slump. To minimize the performance dip, prioritize a healthy meal that doesn't burden the body too much.