Those that train early in the morning are a special kind of breed. Not everyone can train in the morning and, shooting you straight; not everyone SHOULD complete morning workouts. Training in the mornings isn’t ideal but some days though you just can’t help it.
Most people would rather wake up, drink a cup of coffee, get in breakfast and slowly warm up throughout the morning before they skipped off to do their workout but that schedule doesn’t work for everyone.
If you’re one of those people that train, or is going to have to train, within an hour of waking up here are some tips to make sure you still get the most out of the session WITHOUT getting hurt.
Side note: During the colder months I’ve seen a slight increase in strains and injuries for those that workout in the morning, could be just a coincidence. Regardless this is why we make our early morning clients do a bit more in regards to a warm up.
One: Hot shower as soon as you wake up
May seem silly since as soon as your done, you’re going to have to shower again, but your body has been at rest for the past 6-8hours, cold and stiff. As soon as you wake up go to the bathroom and get in a hot shower, the kind that might make you sweat a little bit. This will help warm up the body, the CNS, and get blood flow going before early morning workouts. The warmer you are before you start, the less likely you are to get hurt and the more likely you will have an awesome workout.
Two: Coffee or some other hot pre workout
Many early morning people will down some kind of pre workout to help wake them up before their session. I’d recommend drinking something hot instead of a pre workout with ice or luke warm water. Luke warm or ice water just cools you off even further, and the body needs to warm up even more before you workout. Drink something hot; coffee is my preferred choice, or some kind of hot pre workout to continue to warm yourself up on the way to the gym.
Three: Do a longer warm up build up a sweat
When you have been going all day, I get (but don’t agree) with doing a shorter warm up because you’ve been moving, active, and digesting food for the past 8+ hours. NOW, when you train in the mornings you will want to spend MORE time on your warm up, you will want to build up a bit of a sweat and should already be breathing slightly hard before your main workout. Wearing extra layers helps with this as well. Foam rolling and stretching isn’t enough, do some bear crawls, seal jacks, rowing or even the treadmill just to get yourself nice and hot.
(Note: you maybe tempted to cut the warm up short since your doing the morning training but I can assure you that will work for a few times before you get injured and can NOT workout for several days or even weeks; trust me from experience don’t cut the warm up short)
Four Skip breakfast… maybe
Eh… this is a toss up. You may not have time to get a quality meal, and you most likely won’t have time to let it digest; I’ve seen some people get sick from eating too close to an intense workout. If you’ve been eating well the day before you should have your glycogen stores built up from yesterday’s previous meals, so it’s not always necessary to eat before an early morning workout. Now if you feel that you do need SOMETHING I’d recommend just a protein shake with a small piece of fruit to get some extra glycogen in your system. Or… You can do the next tip below.
Five: Bring an intra-workout shake
This has become a big staple here at RTC for the morning crowd and other training facilities. An intra-workout shake is just a protein shake that you drink DURING the workout. I won’t go into detail about it on this blog but what I’d recommend is having a scoop of protein powder and a scoop of some kind of fast digesting carb (I, personally, use Gatorade powder) mixed together. You will sip on about half of it during the workout and finish the rest AFTER the workout. This will give your body some additional fuel to run on when, or if, you burn through the energy from the previous day or morning. So if you find that you’re gassed in the middle of your workout give this a shot, promise it makes a BIG difference.
Six: Don’t do big lifts first in your routine
I had to find this one out the hard way. After much early morning experimentation, I would recommend doing your bigger lifts, barbell squats for example, later in your routine. Do some other exercises first that are compliments to you lift or get some blood pumping in your muscles before you lift heavy. Doing some sled pushes, single leg work, walking lunges, etc.. will help get those muscle active and ready to work. NOW you will initially notice a slight strength decrease since your big exercise isn’t first but as long as your making steady progress and lifting more over time it won’t matter.
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other cool letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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