Effects of morning versus evening combined strength and endurance training on physical performance, muscle hypertrophy, and serum hormone concentrations

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 Dec;41(12):1285-1294. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0271.


This study investigated the effects of 24 weeks of morning versus evening same-session combined strength (S) and endurance (E) training on physical performance, muscle hypertrophy, and resting serum testosterone and cortisol diurnal concentrations. Forty-two young men were matched and assigned to a morning (m) or evening (e) E + S or S + E group (mE + S, n = 9; mS + E, n = 9; eE + S, n = 12; and eS + E, n = 12). Participants were tested for dynamic leg press 1-repetition maximum (1RM) and time to exhaustion (Texh) during an incremental cycle ergometer test both in the morning and evening, cross-sectional area (CSA) of vastus lateralis and diurnal serum testosterone and cortisol concentrations (0730 h; 0930 h; 1630 h; 1830 h). All groups similarly increased 1RM in the morning (14%-19%; p < 0.001) and evening (18%-24%; p < 0.001). CSA increased in all groups by week 24 (12%-20%, p < 0.01); however, during the training weeks 13-24 the evening groups gained more muscle mass (time-of-day main effect; p < 0.05). Texh increased in all groups in the morning (16%-28%; p < 0.01) and evening (18%-27%; p < 0.001), however, a main effect for the exercise order, in favor of E + S, was observed on both testing times (p < 0.051). Diurnal rhythms in testosterone and cortisol remained statistically unaltered by the training order or time. The present results indicate that combined strength and endurance training in the evening may lead to larger gains in muscle mass, while the E + S training order might be more beneficial for endurance performance development. However, training order and time seem to influence the magnitude of adaptations only when the training period exceeded 12 weeks.

Keywords: concurrent training; cortisol; effet de l’ordre; entraînement concurrent; moment du jour; muscle cross-sectional area; order effect; section musculaire transversale; testosterone; testostérone; time of day.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Bicycling
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise*
  • Fatigue / blood
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypertrophy / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Muscle Development*
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / growth & development
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology
  • Resistance Training* / adverse effects
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Lifting


  • Testosterone
  • Hydrocortisone