T Nation

Morning Vs. Afternoon Training


The gym I go to opens at 5 a.m. (On base gym)
My work starts at 7:30, that means if I can wake up at 4:30, get ready, have a quick protein shake and be at the gym by 5:30, I can work out for 1 1/2 hours. The problem with this is I've read that you should have a good meal prior to working out, which I have no time to. How much would this affect my gains compared to working out in the afternoon. Afternoon is no good for me, the gym is so packed I just want to shoot myself in the face when I'm there.

All feedback is much appreciated, please, no hotlines, I was kidding about the shooting thing :wink:


Do you believe everything you read? There is really no reason that I can think of why you would need a big meal prior to working out. In fact, to me, a big meal is counterproductive because it makes me feel lethargic.

You probally want to eat light, a shake like you mentioned, maybe some fruit and or toast. Nothing heavy or greasy.

When you wake up, you are somewhat fasted and little if any amino acids are in your blood. Your muscles will be in a state of catobolism. A shake, preferbly whey, will get those acids into your muscles quickly. A little bit of carbs might help you, but it isn't neccasary. An analogy I have read here compares it to your car; you can drive just as fast on a 1/4 tank of fuel as you can with a full tank, just not as long.

Also, the meal after a workout is more important than before. You mentioned you work on base; why not put in only an hour workout and make it to the chow hall, eat a big breakfast, and have time to spare?


I have trained at 5am as well. However, my goal was to cut up.

I would drink BCAAs before and during my workouts. Currently, I workout at lunch now and I find that intensity matches that as my morning early morning workouts. So, as long as you are mentally prepared, I think you can make some solid gains.

I know Charles Poliquin states that some trainees experience dizziness or nausea from the low blood sugar in morning workouts; however, I never experienced this.


I train people at 5 am, and their intensity is fine and they don't complain. Personally I can't do it. I do not have the energy or the motivation that early to break myself just yet. I workout mid-day and I find that it works best for me personally. I believe that it really is a personal thing, what time your body responds best.


I train at 6:30 so not quite as early but my general routine is to get up just before 6:00 and pop a Spike tablet. About 15 mins later I have a protein shake (about 50g Protein) and I have a wholemeal bread and egg sandwhich either at home or in the car on the way to the gym.

After the gym is my usual PWO and then as much food as i can eat in the next hour.

For a while I think that my intensity at 6:30 was a little down but I am use to it now, and especially with a Spike I notice no difference in intensity to afternoon session.


I have been training in the early a.m. for about a year for the same reasons as you (packed gym). For breakfast I make myself a shake (in the blender) made out of various fruits, oats and whey protein. Use water, not milk! With the walk to the gym, changing clothes and my warm up, about 1 hour passes between drinking the shake and starting the workout, by which time I have enough energy to go through a 45 min workout without problem.

The shake is also light, so it's far enough down the digestive system that I don't get nauseous during heavy squats or deads (which used to happen when I had a solid breakfast).

Hope this helps!


I wake up at 6:20am and am at the gym at 7:30. I have 1 cup of oatmeal and a scoop of whey. It's not too heavy to slow me down in the gym and it's enough to get me through my work out until I have my pwo.