How I Handled the Working Out Before Work or After Dilemma

How I Handled the Working Out Before Work or After Dilemma

Nope, I’m not Superwoman – although I like to think I’m Supermom sometimes. 😉 The truth is, we somehow manage to always do the things we consider important. If we add the gym higher on that list than say, watching TV, it’s more likely to get done. Setting a specific time of day to go to the gym helps immensely. But should you work out before work or after? Answer the question for yourself and then stick to it.

Like most people, all I did to make this a reality was this: I asked myself whether working out before work or after was a more viable option. Then I made it a habit.  Even though I’m obviously a morning person, I decided working out after work was the best choice. Your choice might be different, but hear me out about why, as a morning person, I decided to hit the gym later in the day.

How Do I Go to the Gym Straight After Work?

This particular question seems to have an obvious answer… but does it really? Yes, of course, I go to the gym straight after work by driving my car there instead of going home first. Duh, right? That isn’t how I want to answer the question, though.

I go to the gym straight after work the same way I get up early every morning. I was persistent about doing it no matter what until it became a habit. It took a good couple months of grinding away for it to become a legit habit.

I didn’t count how many days exactly, but it wasn’t 21 like a lot of people claim. It took wayyy longer than 21 days. At the 21-day point, I was probably still having arguments in my head about even going to the gym at all.

Heading to the gym after work three days a week is something I now do without thinking about it. I just end up at the gym on those 3 days after work. With my mind on autopilot, I drive there because not driving there would be weird to me now that this habit is established.

As much as I’d love to give myself and my sketchy at best willpower all the credit for going to the gym after work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, it really has nothing to do with my willpower anymore.

How Habit Triggers Saved the Day

In the beginning, while establishing the habit, I set up triggers that helped set me up for success. It all started the evening before. Specifically, here is what I did to train myself with a series of habit triggers to go to the gym after work the following day:

  • Reminder on my phone went off telling me to pack my gym bag.
  • Packed my gym bag with clothes and running shoes, and put it in front of the front door so I would see it when I left for work the next morning.
  • As I left for work, I saw the bag and picked it up. After all, if I didn’t pick it up, I’d trip over it.
  • I put the bag in the trunk of my car along with the laptop bag I use for work.
  • In the afternoon, when I got off work and opened the trunk to throw my laptop bag in, I saw the gym bag and remembered I had planned to go to the gym. To be honest, on most days I completely forgot I even wanted to exercise until I saw the bag. 
  • With the gym fresh on my mind, I drove there and did my workout.

In those early days, this series of triggers helped keep me on track. Without them, my sorry butt would’ve driven home without ever working out.

You might be asking, “Why don’t you go to the gym in the morning, Ms. Get Up Early?”

This is where creative and rational thinking came in on my part. One would think someone like me would eagerly go to the gym at the crack of dawn since I like getting tasks out of the way (and since I have so much more energy in the mornings).

No one can do absolutely everything in the morning. Morning routines work best when they’re kept minimal. After thinking more deeply and prioritizing, I feel it’s best if I go in the late afternoon around 4:30pm.


  1. I like to do other things in the morning – eating breakfast, writing, and meditation. I also do yoga for a few minutes sometimes on days I don’t go to the gym. My writing takes priority in my life, so that gets done first thing. At that point in the morning, I realistically wouldn’t feel like driving out to the gym. Which brings me to my second point…
  2. I live in Los Angeles. I do not feel like battling traffic first thing in the morning and then after I’m done still have to worry about battling even more traffic to get to work. Making a detour to the gym after work is much easier for me since I’m already in the car and not under pressure to be anywhere at a certain time.
  3. Since I get up with the birds, I seriously see a dip in my energy levels by 4:30pm. Instead of loading up on junk food or caffeine to wake me up, I hit the gym. A cardio HIIT workout boosts my energy immensely and gives me the push I need to be productive (make dinner, have a social life, etc) until bedtime. 
  4. I have ravenous hunger the moment I wake up. I like to make breakfast my largest meal of the day and gradually decrease portions as I reach other meal times. If I were to go to the gym during this time, I would be focusing on nothing except the rumbly in my tumbly. 🙂

Working Out After Work Tired

In the early stages of establishing the gym habit, without fail, I would always tell myself I was too tired to workout after work. We all have long, mentally or physically draining days at work, so it’s easy to justify skipping the gym. This doesn’t get us any closer to our goals, though, does it? 

If your boss were screaming at you to get to the gym after work or else you’re fired, I guarantee you’d be at the gym immediately, regardless of how “tired” you feel. Chew on that for a second…

Just because someone else doesn’t force you to do something such as going to the gym doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be forcing yourself to do it. Be that annoying boss and get your butt to the gym. Force yourself day in, day out until a couple months later you realize you’re doing it effortlessly, on autopilot like the beautiful habit it has blossomed into!

How I Get More Energy After Work

The way I get more energy is not by magically creating more of it, but by ignoring the voices in my head that tell me to just drive home. At first, I may feel like I’m too tired to workout after work, but that feeling goes away about 5 minutes into my cardio routine.

I’m not actually too tired, I’m just telling myself I am. It’s all in my head. I choose not to believe everything I tell myself and I’ve gotten so much better at discerning my thoughts.

This strategy of working out after work has made all the difference in establishing my gym habit. Give it a try and see how it goes for you.

I'm the owner of and an enthusiastic early riser. Let's discuss why that is... and maybe I can make you a believer in magical mornings as well!

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