Sunday, June 26, 2016


There is so much mysticism sorrounding training in the morning that I figure some debunking is in order.  From someone who has been training at 0500 since 2013 (to include weekends), I figure I could clarify a few things.


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People who suffer from a lack of internal motivation tend to not enjoy the external motivation they receive

If you were reading this part hoping I had some answers, AM workouts most likely aren't your thing.  I see so many folks wondering how you find the motivation to workout in the morning, asking for tips on how to get out of bed, wanting life hacks for setting an alarm clock, etc etc.  Like all things with training, motivation really isn't going to get you very far.  Motivation will get you through 1 or 2 workouts, but after that it fades quickly.

You simply have to want to train more than you want to sleep.  I have expressed many times how much I hate training, but I love what training does for me, so I do it.  I love the effects so much that I'm willing to wake up early to get them.  If you don't, that doesn't make you a bad person, it is simply a part of you that you have to accept.  You have priotized sleeping in above training.  Until you fix that, it will win.


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I heard that this is what daily food prep is like for Zydrunas Savickas

Here is an area you actually CAN benefit from.  It's honestly pretty obvious stuff, but amazingly the obvious tends to get overlooked.

-Get an adequate amount of sleep.  Guess what; this means going to bed early.  Once again, that seems obvious, but when I tell people I get up at 0445 to train, they immediately ask "What time do you go to sleep?!" and when I answer 2030, they are shocked.  People seem to think that successful morning trainees found some sort of lifehack to go to bed at midnight and wake up 4 hours later ready to rock.  Some folks can do that; I'm not one of them.

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If your eyes look like this; you're not one of them either

-Set our your training clothes ahead of time.  Nothing worse than trying to figure that stuff out first thing in the morning, especially if you have a spouse/loved one/one night stand/animal that is NOT partaking in your workout.  You don't want to be fumbling around in the dark here.

-Figure out what foods you can eat and train off of quickly.  I can eat a small meal and train within 2 minutes of having eaten.  Some folks have to take 2 hours after eating before they can train.  Be smart; some food can settle better than others for some people.

-Figure out your warm-up routine.  I'll get on my soapbox for a minute here; figure out if you really need your warm-up routine.  Do you actually need to spend 30 minutes foam rolling, performing dynamic stretches, hiting the agile 8, hitting the steam room, riding a bike, shooting hoops, pole vaulting, deep sea diving, and watching "Pumping Iron" to get psyched?  Maybe you can just roll into the gym, hit some light reps with the first movement of the day, and crush your workout.  Either way, plan accordingly in terms of sorting out your time.

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I mean, make sure you keep THIS in though


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Ah, to ask this question on the internet

Here is the other big thing people tend to not realize about AM workouts; the "you" in the morning who just woke up and only has a light meal in you is vastly different from the "you" that shows up to the gym in the afternoon after being awake for 8 hours with 3 full meals.  This means you can expect to hit the same numbers with the same intensity in the morning as you had been doing in the afternoon/evening.  For those of you following linear progression programs (why?!), this is going to mean swallowing some pride and figuring out a new baseline.  For you AMRAP folks, that means new rep PRs to establish/beat.  For you autoreg folks; business as usaul.  Whoever you are, just don't freak out over a number change.  As long as you are progressing under the same conditions, you are progressing overall.

Example: If, in the afternoon you were deadlifting 600lbs for 5 reps, then you start training in the morning and can only pull 550 for 5; when you can start hitting 600 for 5 in the morning, you will be able to lift even MORE in the afternoon.

Personal example: 1 week ago, in the morning, I pulled 520 off of a 7 mat height for 4 reps in the morning.  This week, I pulled 565 for 3 reps off a 6 mat height in the afternoon.  I didn't add 45lbs in 1 week; it was simply the difference between morning me and afternoon me.

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Afternoon you might be the Hulk and morning you might be Bruce Banner, but as long as you aren't Hawkeye, you're fine

-It's probably also a good idea to dress warm to start with.  You just woke up, your body is still stiff, staying warm is staying safe.  This'll mean it's time to retire the tank-top and quit checking out your guns in the mirror while you're "checking your form".  Don't sweat it though; no one else is in the gym to see you anyway.

-Your belt is going to fit differently, since there is less food in your gut.  With a lever belt, this can suck, but even with a buckle belt make sure you know what setting you need.

That's it for now.  Leave a comment if you have any other tips for the AM workout crowd.


  1. Hi Emevas,

    I train early morning.

    A big pro to early morning training is that you have far less crowding.

    I think the best tip I have is that the battle is won or lost in the first 5 minutes of waking. If you can over-ride the self-talk and get out of bed, your are pretty much there.

    I have a pretty stressful job and sometimes suffer from insomnia or work late into the night. Sometimes the workout suffers and sometimes it does not. It is not something I use as an excuse for not training.

    I head home to 2 protein ice coffees (60 grams of protein) and an entire box of cereal after training completely fasted. That little reward makes me very rat like in my approach.

    Of note is that at 46 the joints do kind of feel it a little more. I dress over warm and may do a couple of doubles at progressive weights. For dips it may be plus 10, plus 20, then target weight for 9.

    By the way I deadlifted for the first time in a long while. Pulled 105 for a triple at 65. Not a bad starting weight. My farmers walks are comfortable at 30kgs a piece for distance and I want to progress them to 50kg a piece. They are my favorite training tool. I often do 6 sets of 10 for squatd on Sunday morning, then a lot of single legged leg presses to exhaustion drive home and do carries until I am unable to walk without wobbly legs.

    Hope you are fully recovered, it sounds like it.

    1. Hey Paul,

      Appreciate the personal tips. I'm enjoying allowing this article to be more "reader participation" centric, and you put in some good info here.

      It really is about just getting out of bed when the alarm goes off and to start moving. The sooner you do it, the sooner it's over.

      Sounds like you're firing on all cylinders on the training front. Great work dude.

      I'm feeling fully recovered these days. I'm not hitting my old numbers quite yet, but I feel confident that I could. I just have to develop faith in the graft. I'm still a ways out from competing according to the Doc, but this off season will be good for me.

    2. Pleased to hear that Emevas. Look fwd to seeing you back on the competing front. You seem to have made that recovery process highly effective.

  2. Below the awesome Princess Bride reference, I think you meant to say "can't" expect to hit the same weights instead of "can" expect to hit the same weights.

    To tag on, here's what has worked for me as a morning lifter.

    During lacrosse season when I'm coaching and have a shit ton going on, I do the caffeine snooze. Can't remember where I picked this up originally, but it has been years. Set the alarm for 20 minutes before your normal alarm, pop a caffeine pill, snooze until your regular alarm. The snooze amplifies the effect of the caffeine and you wake up ready to roll.

    ~30g dextrose and ~15g protein in a blender bottle. I can't get down normal food that early, so this gets liquids in me (dehydration is a big risk of muscle tears) plus enough calories to get me through it and it absorbs/takes effect very quickly.

    As you mentioned, resetting all PR's and numbers. I'll often take a page from the book of Mountain Dog and do a "pre-pump" exercise as my first movement, such as hamstring curls before squats.

    Different than you, I do lifts that force me to use lighter weights in the morning. I'll do front squats or heels-elevated squats instead of back squats, feet-up bench instead of normal bench, Z-Press instead of Strict OHP. This lets me work hard, but I don't really have established PR's for these plus the nature of the lift forces me to use less weight and therefore less injury risk.

    I have 4-5 morning days of conditioning and these lighter, but still full-effort lifts, then one weekend strongman day where I'll do heavier variations at 9-11am with a full meal, plenty of water, and some damn spinal compression time.

    Morning lifting is definitely a "long road" approach--glad you mentioned the inherent PR nature of lifting later in the day once you're used to early lifting!

    1. Hi Will,

      Neat trick on the caffeine.

      I have a couple of additional comments.


      My progress from 15kg to 30kg on farmers walks over a month has been based on something you should look into.

      I pick up the weights and walk for 5 steps, wait 5 minutes and pick them up and walk 5 steps back. I do that 5 times. This 5*5 seems to be the magic number. I aim to add 2.5 pounds per session. I am worried that if I do more than 5 walks for 5 steps I may overtrain )-:

    2. Great tips here Will. Thanks for that. Also, thanks for the catch on the writing.

      I dig your thoughts on selecting new movements to train on. I do something similar with my return from injury. It's super helpful to just get out of your own headspace by picking something you can still rock and roll on but have no real baseline to compare it against. Besides, getting stronger from a variety of angles and movements is always awesome.

      And Jesus Christ Paul, are you trying to give me an aneurysm? Hahaha.

    3. Thought you might have appreciated that Emevas. I may even try to brand that 5*5 plan with a catchy name like strong walks (-: and design a beginners and intermediate program.

  3. My heavier squat workout for the week is always early in the morning. I've been puzzling over why I underperform on that day specifically - for example, going into my last meet I barely managed a 353x2 grinder and then on the platform got an easy 391. Never quite put 2 and 2 together until I read this post, haha.

    1. If it's any consolation, I still don't like to realize this, haha. Glad it was helpful dude.

  4. I can only train mornings because of how my grand father raised me. I would be woken up in the morning by him(much like the first image) standing at the foot of the bed playing the "mock-trumpet" with his hands like a srgnt major!

    Loren P | London Fight Factory

    1. Haha, sounds like a grandparent interested in raising you right! Sounds like you were off to a good start.

  5. "This means you can expect to hit the same numbers with the same intensity in the morning as you had been doing in the afternoon/evening."

    Quick question - You meant to say you CANNOT expect to hit the same numbers, right?