Are you a morning person?
I’m not a morning person. If I could stay up until 3AM every night that would be fine by me. However, some people get up really, really early.. My friend Craig gets up at 4AM every day and works.
Back in college, I used to workout at 10PM every night at the Gold’s Gym. I enjoyed how quiet the gym was and there was no jockeying for weights.
The other morning though, I thought I would try it out. So off I went to the gym at 6AM. This was a painful experience for me… more than just getting up so early, the gym was PACKED!
My body though felt different compared to my afternoon workouts. I was a bit more tight and needed more warmup than usual.
Being properly warmed up is everything, it helps prevent injury and improves your workout energy.
I Got Your Back
This got me thinking about something I was taught by my friend Craig (a master fitness trainer). Craig said that first thing in the morning, people need to be careful with their lower back.
He went on to tell me a story about a man he trained who injured his back first thing in the morning when they were training.
Basically… be more careful with your lower back in the morning. Dr. Stuart McGill as stated that overnight the fluid in your discs in your spine increases so that your spinal discs are bigger.
Be sure to avoid sit-ups and crunches – these can cause injury to your back anyway, but especially in the morning.
After moving around for 30 to 60 minutes, the discs become compressed a little bit more and they return to their normal size.
If you use my training programs, we don’t really do sit-ups anyway as I’ve not found them particularly useful for golf performance training.. or any performance for that matter.
First Thing First
A hot shower is a must before your morning session. Even though you have to shower after, it’s a good idea to double up. This helps wake you up, gets you warmed up a bit more, and refreshes you. Also, a nice hot tea or coffee isn’t entirely bad either.
This ensures you are mentally awake and not in zombie mode.
To Eat or Not to Eat
Short on time, eating is a toss up. The key is replacing your glycogen stores the evening before with a decent amount of carbs (yes, CARBS). I prefer to eat something before I work out, even if it’s just a small protein drink.
By the time you brush your teeth, shower, and drive to the gym you should be closing in on an hour.
Eating isn’t necessary, but keep it basic.
Gt the blood flowing with a extra long warm up. Jump rope, treadmill, stationary bike, short jog. Anything you can do that’s fairly dynamic for 5 minutes.
If you are older than 35, I recommend tossing in a short bodyweight routine to hit all the major sections of the body.. arms and chest (pushups), legs (bodyweight squats), low back and core (plank hold), upper back (supermans or stick ups).
Again, training with any type of weight load on your spine (barbell squats) is something to be very careful with. Doing this type of work at the crack of dawn is highly risky if not properly warmed up. Remember, it’s more than just a warm up, your spine needs time to reduce the amount of fluid and return the discs to normal size.
If you are training with load on your spine, start off with complimentary exercises such as a glute ham raise or split squats. These have the added benefit of pre-fatiguing your quads and hammies.
Post Workout Nutrition
I really love a protein shake after training. It’s almost like a reward. They just taste so good.
It’s not essential that you have the fastest acting carbs or protein right after training. It doesn’t matter.
You just need something to stop the catabolic (muscle loss) that training induces. Eating after your workout also helps with strengthening your immune system. Increased anabolism (muscle building) at this time aren’t huge concerns; it’s just supplement company marketing hype.
Straight whey, or a blend protein. It doesn’t matter.
Carbs and glycogen replenishment is over-hyped as well. Some fruit works just fine too and it tastes great. Glycogen replenishment is a long process and doesn’t happen immediately in two hours after you train.
Be sure to avoid starchy carbs though because they have detrimental effects they have on energy levels and mental focus later in your day.
To recap, if you’re training first thing in the morning:
1) You should ideally be awake for an hour before your workout starts.
2) A hot shower is a must
3) A hot beverage like organic, mycotoxin-free black coffee or green tea is also a must
4) Eating is not necessary
5) Do an extra long warm up
6) Consider placing loaded lifts later in your routine for safety purposes
7) Have some protein and fruit after
8) Continue with similar meals throughout the day