The 5am Workout…It takes a special kind of person to wake up and workout that early in the morning. It’s a combination of discipline and a lil bit of crazy to get up to get to the gym at that time.
But if you are that person or want to be that person, let me give you some pointers to get the most out of your early morning workout.
One. You need fuel… but not much.
In an ideal workout, to have the best workout possible in the morning, you would want to have some food/fuel before working out, ideally about 90min to two hours beforehand. But, being real here, that won’t be the best decision if you’re getting up at 4 or 4:30 to get to the gym.
So you have a couple of options:
- Eat a larger dinner – this should give you plenty of fuel to run off of the following morning, but this can also disrupt your sleep due to digestion or indigestion issues. If you go this route, keep the food as simple as possible. Lean protein (lean chicken, steak, turkey, eggs), slow-burning carbs (potatoes), and veggies (anything goes here).
- Eat a small snack as soon as you wake up – Fruit or nut butter.
- Drink a protein shake – (this is my preferred option) Mix your protein of choice (shaker cup NOT blender) with water/milk or whatever feels best to your stomach and sip on as the start or during your workout.
Now, with all that said, some people don’t, or can’t, eat anything before a workout. That is perfectly fine; if you’re in the group, then cool!
Not many people are accustomed to getting up at 4:30 am, so most will need a ‘pick-me-up’ to get a jump start. Coffee is my personal go-to; it’s hot and has just enough caffeine to wake me up without feeling all cracked out, twitching from stimulating overload. If you go the caffeine route, my personal recommendation is to keep it at under 200mg per serving (this is where you will see most popular energy drinks hover anyway).
Yes, of course, if you feel comfortable, you can consume more. Still, over time I have found you start to feel dehydrated since caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you expel water and salt, which isn’t always the best during a workout since it can increase the chances of cramping. Plus, you’ll feel the energy crash later in that morning, which means you need another to keep you going.
Caffeine is not bad for most, but overdoing it can be. Just use your best judgment.
We’ve found that those that workout early in the AM need a longer warm-up time than those that workout later in the day, which makes sense since your body is still waking up and may not quite be ready for an intense workout just yet.
Don’t skip the warm-up; warm up enough that you break a sweat, and 10-15min is ideal. NOW, if you are short on time, I get the temptation to skip it and go straight into a workout to maximize your time but don’t! Your risk of injury goes WAY up, and if you get injured well, then everything just sucks.
Besides, when you warm up properly, you’ll find that you have a more intense and productive workout.
Below is an example of a warm-up that we will have some of our early morning members do before they start the heavy lifting.
Cardio of choice x 60sec
Cossack Squat x 10/leg
Straight Leg Inchrom to T-push up x 10 (total)
Band Pull-a-parts x 10
Band Dislocates x 10
Four. A Plan.
When you are working out early in the AM, you’re typically short on time, and you want to maximize the time you do have. The best way to do this is to have a plan on what you’re going to do.
Don’t try to wing it because, after a few workouts, you’ll feel like your spinning your wheels and not making much progress. If you keep feeling like that, well, you’ll start to skip those early workouts more and more.
There are plenty of workout plans out there! Some free, some are not, but it doesn’t matter which one you choose. A workout plan is better than no plan at all.
Make sure your plan is focused on the areas that YOU want to improve (for example, you want to be a better runner, you want to lose weight, you want to gain muscle, tone, etc…). AND most importantly, that your plan has ways to progress so you are not doing the same weight, sets, reps, or exercises week after week.
It isn’t always possible, but this can be the make or break of those days where you just don’t want to get up and workout. When you have some form of accountability, whether it be a friend, spouse, group of people, or even a trainer can be the extra lil bit of push to get your a$$ up and get you moving despite how tired or not wanting you are.
Your spouse may not want to do this with you, or schedules may not align to make that possible. A friend would be ideal because you don’t want to stand them up (assuming they don’t flake out on you either), but I have found that a small group of people or even a coach is best because if you have 5-6 people or a coach that you know you are going to give you crap when your not there will get you out of bed.
Most people don’t want to disappoint anyone, so having a person(s) waiting on you and pushing you to do better is the best-case scenario for those who want to make that 5am time work.
If you can make the 5am time work, and many people make it a lifestyle to get up and get to the gym at 5am, you can get amazing results, get it out of the way and move on with your day.
Yeah, it will be hard for the first few weeks (or months for some), but once you see results, once you have that accountability, then it becomes life… and life is good 🙂
Lastly, we do offer 5am time slots here at RTC; yes, we love those crazy early morning peeps…lol, so if you just want a change of pace or know that you need that accountability, check out our Small Group Personal Training Trial HERE <===
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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