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Quick & Dirty 5am Powerbuilding

Hey guys, finally nutted up and have started my early AM lifts, since that it the only time I’ll really have have the energy and well… time to do them.

Currently really focused on getting some old strength back before all my weight loss and slabbing on some new muscle.

I’m used to working up to the heavy 2-3 rep range, but that’s proving difficult at 5am. Also, I’m really only versed in low rep range work, and have always just flubbed in the rest of the work, assistance etc.

Anybody have any recommendations to steer me with the info provided? Have roughly 1-1.25 hours, 4-5 days a week.

I dont care if its exciting, I’ve just got a lot to learn as far as accommodating my body so early in the morning.


Adding, even as far as the structure goes. I’ve always done the big lifts first l, but that’s after a whole day of med-heavy manual labor, so I’m pretty warmed up already. I’m thinking sticking the core lifts towards the later half and ramping up to them instead of just going in elbow deep 15m after I wake up… just any pointers for stuff like that.

John Meadows is all about doing the day’s big compound lift/s after a prep lift or two. I’ve become a firm believer in leg curls before squats, and a couple sets of jumps and ab wheels can also be helpful. Before deadlifts, single-leg hip thrusts, back raises, and face pulls work great.

@TrainForPain is very knowledge about Meadows’ style and warm-up lifts.


Most of Brian Alsruhes programs have a brief conditioning portion prior to the lifting. Usually some body weight work to get a sweat going then it’s on to the main work.

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I factor a 50lb drop off in deadlift performance between AM and PM workouts and just work that into my calculations. Work up to the best of your ability under your circumstances and you’ll keep getting stronger.


I felt pretty foggy when I started lifting first thing but it got better with time.

The other thing is it might feel like dog poop but you still get stronger. If you can lift a big heavy weight 30 minutes after you wake up, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what happens the time you lift at 3PM with a big meal in you.


I had a big drop in strength when I first started early morning lifting, but now I’m as strong as I was in the afternoons if not stronger. Just have to embrace the suck for a short adjustment period and you’ll be back at it. I run 5/3/1 and use Agile 8 with 10-20 explosive movements as a warmup and have had quite a bit of luck with it. Also, caffeine is your friend. I never used heavy pre-workouts until I went to early lifting, but now I use Nutricost preworkout that has 300mg and love it.

Ever look into 5/3/1 Leviathan? Could be interesting for your goals with TM x 1 followed by a Widowmaker or something and decently high volume (read: bodybuilding) assistance.

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Thanks for the tag @TriednTrue

@chaoshander I think #1 is just realize you’ll get used to the mornings after a couple weeks and then it will be your normal.

If you’re interested in moving the main lifts later in your program, I do love the Meadows’ approach:

  1. Your first exercise is contraction-focused and “safe”. The goal is to get a pump on something that’s joint-friendly, easy to warm up, and doesn’t hurt your feelings if you aren’t breaking records. Get a pump here and it’s cool to do a drop set or something if you want. Examples:
  • Push: Dumbbell presses or machine presses before you get to barbells.
  • Legs: Leg curls before squats; if your knees are still cranky knock out leg presses or something second.
  • Pull: Any kind of supported row first.
  1. Your second exercise is your big mover, and you ramp up (typically). So pick a rep range and work up to your heavier set.

  2. This is usually the “this sucks” exercise where you go bodybuilding-style, so it will be on something safe, contraction-focused, and whatever feels good to you. Examples:

  • Push: Machine press working up to something heavy, then rest/ pause down the stack.
  • Legs: BSS of death!
  • Pull: Rack pull cluster set
  1. He ends with a stretch exercise (dips, RDL, pull-down).

Shoulders (these get a big rear delt focus), arms, abs, calves are a little different in that you don’t do all four phases, but who cares - they’re assistance stuff.

If all that is too complex to be fun for you, definitely don’t do it. I do like doing something I care about less first, then my main movement, then throw in the assistance; lately I’ve been knocking that stuff out as supersets if I can.


Thanks for the input guys, I actually ran a quick mock up of what @TrainForPain explained about the mountain dog workout for legs on Tuesday and had a good time. Running a shoulder variation today. I will kep you guys updated!