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:
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, it’s 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:
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