T Nation

Early Morning Training


Hey everyone, was hoping for some insight.

Recently, my schedule has changed so that I am locked to training at 6am. I wake up at 5:20 and eat and by 6 I am hitting the weights.

I have heard numerous reports and studies that suggest our backs are very vulnerable to injury, namely our spines, while training first thing in the AM.

I saw that we have fluid between our vetebrae first thing in the AM and this increases pressure in the spine significantly while performing exercises where you bend over.

Thing is, I cannot imagine excluding things such as deads or squats!

Can anyone elaborate on this? Also, I would love to be directed to some research or articles that explain this issue or oppose this issue.

As always, thanks in advance!


I've heard that an hour after waking is enough time, so you could just make sure that deads/squats aren't the first excercises you do. If you are doing a bodypart split and want to do the compounds first then you could just get up twenty minutes earlier on the days you do legs.

I know Stuart McGill has written up some things about it in the past. You could try searching on this site or just use a search engine.


Stuart McGill writes about this in both his books. you can search his interviews on this site and he'll explain his position.

My suggestion is stay away from deads. I trained early morning 2 weeks ago with deadlifts and seriously injured my back. still stiff today. I am staying away from squats and deadlifts now and doing other exercises and it's doing some good; I arleady see some good improvements in my quads from doing other stuff so excluding squats and deads for a little isn't so bad.

Don't get me wrong tho, as soon as I can I will go back to heavy squats and deadlifts as long as it's not too early in the morning for it.

Learn from someone who had to learn this lesson the hard way.


I too workout early in the A.M. (5:30am) I get up at 5 drink a shake, check T-Nation and then hit it. The only problems I have had are shoulders and wrists, but this is due to over doing it not workingout to early.

I feel that early workouts make me feel more energetic throughout the day. But to each his own! GOOD LUCK!!!


I have been working out at 4:00am for 20 years. Just make sure you warm up and not start out at your max weight you should be fine.
If you want to dead lift 400 lbs. make sure you work up to it. Same with the squat.
Don't know about the fluid thing but I am always stiff when I start. But within the first 10 minutes I am just fine...
I think with everything your body will adjust to your new time.


I do some training in the early morning, mainly arms (as im still too tired or not quite up for anything heavy).

I suggest getting up earlier and going to bed earlier too so you are not missing any sleep.

one thing is that you have to enjoy working out in the morning, not see it as an inconvenience.

good luck,


Oh, I by no means view it as an inconvenience. I absolutely love working out early. I feel 10 times better throughout my day. I also love the feeling of getting to the office when most people are just crawling out of bed, and seeing the tiredness in their eyes, knowing that I have been up for a few hours, am about to eat my third meal, and already moved thousands of pounds worth of iron!

I was just alarmed when I started to do some research on spine issues with early morning training.


i think the main thing is to take your time working the weight up so that your spine can adjust to the weight


Two words FOAM ROLLER!!!! I picked up one of these bad boys about a month ago and let me tell you what....a couple minutes rolling on this thing and my back feels great...my AM workouts have been better all around since I got this roller and now Im not really sure how I got through a session without it...hands down the best thirty bucks spent in a lloooonnnggg time...


What time of day do you use the Foam Roller? Before the AM workout? At night before bed? Or just anytime in general?