T Nation

Early Morning Workout Tips?


I workout early moring on weekdays, no other time to fit it in due to kids, job, etc. I usually have a glass of juice when I rise at 5am, then after warming up I've started a routine by 5:20 or so.

I feel like crap sometimes, as my stomach is empty other than juice and a bottle of water I sip while lifting. I don't want to scarf down food within 20 minutes of working out, so I'm at a loss of what to do, short of setting my alarm for a middle of the night snack (which I really don't want to do).

I have a massive post workout shake full of ingredients that I can't wait to get to, I'm thinking maybe I should be throwing some down ahead of time.

Suggestions, or anyone else in the same boat?


Just have your Surge when you wake up - to combat the extreme catabolism you are in at that time.

Also, be extra careful of your lower back/spine when lifting so soon after waking.


I might also suggest sipping on a carb-filled beverage while working out on an empty stomach, unless of course you're cutting. But anyway, I carry a half-gallon of gatorade with me to my workouts and it really helps me stay hydrated AND have energy throughout my workout. I'm sure there are better options for beverages to use, but the gatorade powder I use is cheap and does the trick for me. Just something to think about.


This is what I do, although I am training about an hour later in the morning. I find that I can train with a serve of protein in my stomach and then my usual PWO afterwards. Much more than that and I want to puke it back up agian.

Mr Barr, can you expand a bit more on the lower back for us people who like to know some of the technical details behind this sort of info. Thanks.


Thanks Dave, I've heard this before about the back/spine. Something about the discs being under pressure during the first 2 hours after you wake, or along those lines?


helga, Tom, let me see if I can get this right.

Without pressure from sitting/standing, our disks swell up with CSF due to an osmotic pull. This basically elongates the spine and makes the ligaments a little more stretched than they would be otherwise -therefore more susceptible to injury.

This swelling is reduced to ~50% 30 minutes after rising, and 10% after 60 minutes.

I spent all day with Dr. Stu McGill this past Sunday and only hope I am doing his work justice.

BTW-The second Edition of his Performance book is available at www.BackFitPro.com


I workout in the early am hours as well. I rise at 5am drink some protein and thirty minutes later I hit the gym.

This seems to work for me without getting sick. GOOD LUCK!!


I also work out at 5am. I have no other choice due to work and family responsibilities. I generally wake up at 4:15, consume a protein and carb shake, usually whey and ground up oats in water, and hit the gym 45 mintues later. After workout, I have my usual PWO shake.

Doesn't seem to give me any issues, and although I'm not getting in a "whole food" meal pre-workout due to the time, the whey and the oats are about as real as I can get in a glass, hehe.


What times do you guys sleep at for a 5:30AM workout?


I love it when people dig up old threads :).

I get to the gym at five. I am usually in bed and asleep by eight-thirty... no later than nine.


I don't lift weights that early, but before my morning jog i have a tablespoon of honey washed down with water. This hits the bloodstream within 15 minutes and really helps me wakeup.


Can you wake a little earlier? I start my training at about 5:30 am also and get up at 4:30. I have had really good luck with plain oatmeal. Not that flavored crap. If I sart it as soon as I'm up I'm done eating buy about 5. This gives a good 30 min to digest and I've never felt sick during training. I also like to mix a scoop of whey with OJ to drink with the oatmeal. I will also mix a couple scoops of whey with OJ for a peri-workout drink.


I also usually workout in the moring. I wake up at 4:00 and have a protein drink with some oatmeal or a piece of fruit. I hit the gym around 5:45 and sip 1/2 of my carb/protien drink during my workout and finish the rest after my workout.


I used to have to do the same thing and I would ensure that I did anything that would put stress on the spine at the end of the training session. I ate cold cereal before training and my stomach was fine, not too healthy but...the Surge would be good too. :slight_smile:


How about knocking back a Spike tablet. I just ordered a few packs to try it out and I get up at 7.30 and start lifting heavy at approximately 8.10. Currently I just have a glass of OJ or maybe a very small bowl of cereal b4 I hit the gym. Would Spike help my workouts fi taken at this time?

All my exercises work from moderate to heavy over a period of 3-4 sets so I avoid a warmup apart from a brisk walk to the gym. The csf thing has me wondering if I should leave my leg day workout (wednesday) till later in the day?


I'm up at 4:30 and in the gym by 5. I like to have a serving Metabolic Drive Complete and ICE BCAA before leaving, have a full serving of Surge during, and eat a full meal within 2 hours of finishing. I like a couple of Spike tabs during, downing them with my protein, but they have been hurting my stomach lately (or something has) so I've been laying off. I'll go back when I can, because the Spike just plain rocks; in the meantime, I've been experimenting with Power Drive in the ICE.

On deadlift/squat days, I do a complete sequence of dynamic warm-up from MagMobility -- it's made a huge difference.

I try to hit the hay between 9 and 10 at night.


My breakfast on workout days. Behold The Hulk shake:


I used to put oats in it, but now I've stopped and I digest it a lot quicker.


Share the recipe?


Here ya go:

The Hulk Shake

  • Water
  • Mixed frozen fruits (melon, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, etc)
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Milled flaxseed
  • Strawberry and/or orange whey protein powder

The carrots, spinach and broccoli are usually frozen too. Sometimes I'll add some Gatorade powder for extra carbs.


Feeling like crap how? because your too hungry or more like you don't have enough energy? Christine says she's in bed by 8:30 what about you?
you might be better off skipping some workouts during the week and getting some sleep.
I did nothing but add 8 consecutive hours of sleep 3 days a week, every 2 weeks or so and it worked wonders for my strength energy levels endurance and frame. Even though I was eating a little more junk I still lost 4 lbs. My change wasn't even all that drastic just from 6.5 hours to 8 made a huge difference.