Early Morning Workouts. How To Get The Best Results.

Early morning workouts. Some people love lifting weights, running, etc. before sunrise. Others – and this may include you – don’t. Instead you feel it tough to get motivated and become frustrated with your progress. 

Keep reading to learn how to get past this sticking point and learn how to become stronger, build muscle, and feel great after lifting weights in the morning. 

TLDR; Tips For Awesome Early Morning Workouts

  • Getting some caffeine via a cup of coffee or supplement enables you to have as much strength in the morning as later in the day.
  • Be patient and consistent. Stick with your workouts, even if you don’t feel great doing them at first. It will come over a time.
  • Warm your muscles and nervous system up properly doing explosive squats, push ups, and rows with 2-3 reps and light weights instead of dozens of reps with light weights. 
  • A tablespoon of MCT oil ( 15-30 minutes pre-workout gives your brain and muscles a nice boost of energy. 

Early Morning Exercise Wasn’t Easy For Me Either

When I was forced to change my workouts from late afternoon to 5:30 AM, I dreaded every rep and set. I even stressed about getting up early in the morning to train, convincing myself the night before that my workout was going to be terrible.

Then I figured out how to make them work for me.

Don’t Worry If You Feel This Way Too

Since you’re reading this article, you may feel the same. You may also notice that it’s pretty tough to feel strong and energized enough to get a good in an effective workout. Then you end up feeling worse because you skip exercising all together and see the progress you’ve made slip.

There’s no need to stress or worry about this any longer. After reading this article you will know all you need to master early morning exercise. 

What Science Says About Early Morning Exercise

There’s been quite a bit of study over the last few years on the differences between working out with weights and doing cardio early in the morning. Much of it compares morning to afternoon/evening exercise sessions. 

Here’s what you need to know.

First, The Not So Good News 

  • When you’re just getting started, your morning strength training workouts will be tough. You’re likely to be less strong and be able to do less reps and sets.
  • Increases in strength will be slower going too. 
  • You will probably find it tough to stay motivated over the first month or so. Especially if you’re not used to waking up early.
  • If you do sprint or HIIT workouts too, doing them in the morning won’t be as effective as later in the day. 

Now Here’s The Good News

  • Early morning exercise will not have a negative affect on your cardio workouts. Your performance in moderate intensity workouts like jogging, cycling, etc. will be the same. 
  • Lifting weights in the morning can help you feel like you’ve earned a big win and have more free time later in the day. 
  • Many of us feel more energetic, alert, and motivated after an early morning workout. 
  • The amount of muscle you can build isn’t affected by training at the crack of dawn. Even if you don’t eat before you lift weights.
  • Getting an early morning workout is always better than not exercising at all.

lift weights morning

What You Can Do To Have Better Morning Workouts

Now that you know the bad news when it comes to exercising early in the morning, it’s time to talk about what you can do to make these workouts a lot better. Even as good as training in the afternoon.

  • Stay committed. It may take a month or two, or even a little longer, but your strength and workout endurance will get better. Research finds that after several weeks, the percentage of strength you gain in an early morning workout is the same as later in the day. Take it one workout at a time. Before you know it you’ll see yourself making faster progress. The progress you make will be the same as when you lift weights in the afternoon. 
  • Drink a cup of coffee. Getting some caffeine into your bloodstream via coffee, a supplement, or whatever else you like does a long way. Studies on people who took caffeine before their early morning workouts are as strong as when they train in the afternoon. Without the adaptation period I mention above. As long as you can tolerate caffeine, this is perhaps the most important tip in this article.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Whether you need 6- 8 or more hours of sleep to feel rested, do everything you can to get it as often as possible. The better rested you are, the more refreshed and ready to go you’ll feel when you get to the gym.
  • Rinse out your mouth. Simply rinsing your mouth out with a drink contains carbohydrates (i.e. Gatorade) can boost your morning workout performance. That’s right, simply swish it around and spit it out. You’ll find that you can do more sets, reps, and even sprint a little faster. 
  • Try a spoonful of MCT oil. Taking a tablespoon of MCTs about 30 minutes before morning workouts gives me a nice boost of energy. They are a source of instant energy for your brain and muscles. Another benefit is there’s no crash like you can get from sugar-rich pre-workout formulas once they wear off. 
  • Start warming up differently. Spending an extra 5-10 minutes goes a long way to getting energized for an AM workout. I don’t mean walking on a treadmill or doing hundreds of reps with super light weights. That’s a waste of time. Instead do several sets of squats, bench press, rows with a moderate weight for 2-3 reps per set. A few heavish sets of 1-2 reps per set with a weight you can lift for 6-8 reps will really wake your muscles and nervous system up too. Ballistic stretches and kettlebell swings are also great choices.
  • Prioritize your post-workout nutrition. Drinking a shake – no carbs needed – with about 50 grams of whey protein may not help that day’s workout, but it will help you during the next. Getting a dose of protein immediately post-workout gives your muscles the nutrients they need to recover and grow stronger before your next early morning exercise session. It’ll also help you build more muscle, lose fat, and get stronger over time. Gains of 5 pounds of muscle and 10 pounds of fat loss in 2 months are common. 

Recommended Supplements

best mct oil

  • MCT Oil. Like I wrote above, taking a tablespoon of MCT before you train can help you have better energy and focus during your workout. This is because it’s digested very quickly and used by our muscles, brain, and other organs for energy. Start slowly as it can give you an upset stomach if you haven’t taken it before. I recommend starting with a teaspoon and working up to a tablespoon per serving over the course of a week. My favorite choice is MCT Edge.

 

  • Caffeine supplements. If you don’t like the taste of coffee or other caffeine-rich drinks, take it as a pill. Don’t overdo it. Follow the instructions on the products label. A cup of coffee’s worth (95 mg) will be enough. 

 

  • Natural whey protein powder. Drinking a shake before you work out can also help you perform better in the gym. You’ll also get the benefit of faster recovery post-workout by giving your muscles the protein, and amino acids they need to growall natural whey protein bigger and stronger. My favorite choice is Better Whey, an all-natural whey protein powder. It tastes great, mixes easily, and doesn’t have any artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors. Plus, if you’re eating low carb or keto it won’t throw your diet off track since there are only 3-5 grams of carbs per serving. 

 

  • Creatine monohydrate. It’s not an immediate energy booster like caffeine or MCT oil but it’ll still boost your early morning workout performance. You just need to be a little more patient. As long as you fill your muscles up the right way, you’ll see your strength increase within 5-7 days. You’ll also recover faster between sets and be able to do way more reps. I take it every day. I use Creatine Edge. It contains 100% pure creatine monohydrate. It’s the best type available, proven to work over the last 20+ years in hundreds of studies and millions of men and women around the world.

 

Conclusion – Early Morning Workouts

Now you know how to make your early morning workouts as good as when you train any other time of the day. Let me know what you think after you’ve given these tips a try. 

Sources

Clarke ND, Hammond S, Kornilios E, Mundy PD. Carbohydrate mouth rinse improves morning high-intensity exercise performance. Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Sep;17(8):955-963. 

Grgic J, Lazinica B, Garofolini A, Schoenfeld BJ, Saner NJ, Mikulic P. The effects of time of day-specific resistance training on adaptations in skeletal muscle hypertrophy and muscle strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Chronobiol Int. 2019 Apr;36(4):449-460. 

Küüsmaa-Schildt M, Liukkonen J, Vuong MK, Nyman K, Häkkinen K, Häkkinen A. Effects of morning vs. evening combined strength and endurance training on physical performance, sleep and well-being. Chronobiol Int. 2019 Jun;36(6):811-825. 

Küüsmaa M, Schumann M, Sedliak M, Kraemer WJ, Newton RU, Malinen JP, Nyman K, Häkkinen A, Häkkinen K. Effects of morning versus evening combined strength and endurance training on physical performance, muscle hypertrophy, and serum hormone concentrations. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 Dec;41(12):1285-1294. 

Lopes-Silva JP, Santos JFDS, Franchini E. Can caffeine supplementation reverse the effect of time of day on repeated-sprint exercise performance? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2019 Feb;44(2):187-193. 

Mora-Rodríguez R, García Pallarés J, López-Samanes Á, Ortega JF, Fernández-Elías VE. Caffeine ingestion reverses the circadian rhythm effects on neuromuscular performance in highly resistance-trained men. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e33807. 

Mora-Rodríguez R, Pallarés JG, López-Gullón JM, López-Samanes Á, Fernández-Elías VE, Ortega JF. Improvements on neuromuscular performance with caffeine ingestion depend on the time-of-day. J Sci Med Sport. 2015 May;18(3):338-42.

 

Posted on