Time is a cruel mistress – sometimes it drags by, leaving you staring at the second hand willing the seconds to pass but sometimes it flies past, leaving you bobbing on a wake of mounting stress and to-do lists. 

Very few people have too MUCH time, for most, time is a scarce commodity and it can be the make or break factor with progress in our strength and physique pursuits. 

Morning training is a pretty simple solution to a very common problem; it’s a way to ensure a good level of consistency and comparability.

Very few commitments ask for your morning and if they do, they’re rare. In comparison, your evening can sometimes be up for debate:

5pm has been and gone, 7pm is a distant memory and the pile of papers is building, not diminishing – your squat session just got cancelled. Sound familiar?

 It’s common to cringe at the idea of heavy training in the early hours, after-all, when its top competitor is a few extra hours shut-eye it’s easy to let your intentions slip and put off training for that day.

That may be fine if morning training is something you just “fancy trying” but if it’s a question of either training at that time, or not training at all, choosing a pillow over a barbell isn’t an option. 

Here’s Propane’s TOP 5 tips on how to integrate morning training successfully: 

Alarm-clock_2093184b

First and foremost: set aside 1 month at least of lighter, easier training. Expect shit. You’re not going set PBs in your first morning session. 

Its a good time to make your training deliberately easier than normal, start light and don’t expect a lot from your sessions at first – success in that regard will come with time. For now, success is showing up and doing SOMETHING. Soon, you’ll be setting lifetime PBs before friends and colleagues have even hit snooze.

1) Allow time: Don’t expect to step out of bed, get straight under a barbell and have anything better than an average session. You need time to wake up properly. I like to try and wake up 60-90 minutes before training, maybe earlier if possible, and ensure I get in some caffeine and plenty of water at the very least. 

2) Set a deadline & have an evening routine: early mornings don’t need to mean less sleep, if you know you need to be up early, be diligent, hit the sack earlier. Some will find this tough at first and most 9-5ers fiercely protect their evenings but it does just boil down to something that may need to be done if you want to get your training in.

If you need to sleep earlier than normal having a routine that you can initiate to help you get to sleep on time will be a great help. General ‘sleep hygiene’ is always a positive habit but more so than ever if you expect to fall asleep on demand. Set an alarm to 1 hour before you need to be asleep, keep this as a sacred time for stretching, meditation, reading and packing the bags for tomorrow.

3) Bedside caffeine: Even if you get a solid 8 hours, you’re probably going to need a bit of a kick-start waking up before your usual alarm. I like to set my alarm 10 minutes before I’m due to wake up, take some caffeine and then head back on the pillow. Try 200mcg in any form and see how you go.

4) Eat for purpose: You don’t want to chow down 1000kcal 30 minutes prior, you’ll likely already feel sluggish and this won’t help.

This is my current regime, I usually try and do my first work-set by 6:45am

6:15am (in the car): 10g BCAA, 5g Creatine, 3g Beta-alanine. 1 large coffee. 1 bag skittles.
Fast acting carbs and protein with <200kcal

6:30-7:30 – Train – drink 1L water with electrolytes, maybe more skittles.
Likely still de-hydrated, salted water to replace lost electrolytes (I tend to sweat more with AM training)

7:30-8:00am (in the car): The night before I pre-pack 100g dry oats mixed with 50g casein, 10g cocoa and 10g Truvia + a Quest bar. I chuck this in a tupper-wear and take a small flask of hot water. After my session, I’ll set aside 5 minutes in the car to mix + eat this. Pair with some milky coffee and it makes for a very rewarding routine, especially in the winter months.
carbs and protein – no justification beside being bloody lovely

5) Get Warm & Amped: This starts with a hot shower, raising the body’s core temperature is crucial. On your way to the gym, crank the music louder than usual, its important to have a ritual that allows you to get into the right frame of mind – loud music will do this for most as well as serving as a great partner to the caffeine currently surging through your system.

Once in the gym, we need an actual warm up and it needs to be a priority. Start with general movement – 5 minutes on the treadmill or rowing machine:

Then

UPPER BODY:
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgxr6xAB5ZM

LOWER BODY
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSSDLDhbacc

Remember – this is not when you do your mobility work, this should be a separate practice away from your training sessions as part of recovery, the above is meant purely as movement preparation.

Morning training is a great habit to cultivate and can really provide some consistency in an otherwise random and hectic schedule. Once you get over the initial frictions it could be your path to sweet sweet gains.

Those of you who already train in the early AM, share your tips in the comments below

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12 responses to “Top 5 tips to succeed with early morning training

  1. Do you guys no longer have your forums? I always get an error message whenever I try to click on them. If you don’t, do you keep your training log elsewhere? Thanks!

  2. It says “404 (page not found) error)”. I just assumed they were down because I have gotten that message for a few months now.

  3. Another great article guys! Quick question – why only Casein after AM training instead of Whey or a mixture?

  4. Can’t find the thread on the forum. Will explain my experience here.

    Working out early in the morning since January and I won’t change it.

    Reasons:
    -No more missed workouts. December was horrible and I’ve missed like 10 days.
    -Empty gym.
    -Squat goddess.

    I did the first month on Lean Gains mode, BCAA during and post training and first meal at 12pm. But it didn’t work it out for me, for some reason everytime that I try to fast I’ve ended up without appetite. Since February iifym, BCAA’s or Electrolites while training, shower, and 15 minutes later I’m sitting on my desk. Here I ate a large breakfast while I read the emails from the previous evening. Normally this:

    -Protein shake
    -Overnight oats
    -Nuts
    -Banana
    Overall: 800-900kcal

    Then water, water and more water until 12pm that I have lunch (more pros and carbs). It’s funny because just after lunch I start to feel soreness on the muscles I’ve worked.

    1. Hi Fall – not sure if Jonny has responded already but that’s awesome to see your experience. Once you’ve got the momentum it becomes automatic right?

      Lol @ squat goddess

  5. Hi,

    everytime that I hit on the link it redirects to this page not to the forum.

    Yes it becomes automatic pretty quickly, give it a week or so. I think I even recovery better, I do warm ups and stretching prior training. Stretching during and post training. And do some recovery/mobility and foam roller on evenings.

    Another good thing on this is that you’ll have free evenings and you’ll find yourself at 6pm sitting at home like “hey, what can I do, I have plenty of time…let’s watch a bunch of random videos on youtube (ejem)”

    1. Haha freeing up valuable time to watch youtube.. story of my life. Not sure what’s going on with the broken links, will look into it

  6. Hey, since I´m switching from Low Frequency to High Frequency I want to incorporate Early morning training, since we have no air conditioner and the gym is packed in the evening (its getting hot in here)

    Anyways, why shouldnt you hit PRs at early morning training?

    On weekends I always wake up, get a coffee chill for a bit (30-60minutes) do my warmup / foamrolling at home -> go to the gym do my moblity preworkoutroutine and ALWAYS have the best workouts of the week.

    The only thing that would change in the first early morning workout is less sleep than on the weekends, since the timeframe is the same!

    For this matter you could A: sleep longer (its tough because of the circadian rythm) or B: take some melatoning and a good booster in the morning (not recommending it all the time, but for the first sessions, it could be very useful)

    and also the nutrition as you said doesnt matter as long as you have some protein

    Iam going for the leangains protocol for supplementing the 30g BCAAs with 25g Whey Isolate + 10g Leucine in the morning and have my big meal at lunch at work (they´ll be mirin)

    anyhow, routine is the most important part!

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