T Nation

Transitioning to Morning Training


So here in the past couple weeks I have started to transition into lifting in the morning as it is the optimal time to lift based on life and other upcoming life events (baby in December). I know there is some acclimation period and I would estimate it to take up to a few months to feel good and strong lifting. Has anyone else here gone from lifting after dinner to before 6 am? I have lifted for the past 3-4 years with 99% of that time lifting after dinner.

Any tips for helping this transition? The past week ive been downing a protein shake with oats and creatine before lifting and eating eggs after.


As you wrote a big part is just getting used to it. As well I would lighten up on that pre workout shake. If I were to take that at 6am it would sit in me like a brick. A Gatorade and apple is my early morning go to. I’m sure with a new baby sleep could be a little chaotic but with all these things just do the best you can.


And you know I figured its just gonna take time but I guess my intent was to try to make it easier on my wife so I could be around after work to help out more instead of taking an hour-hour and a half out of time together. I was thinking about pickin up some BCAA’s or EAA to drink while i lift. This morning esp sucked doing higher reps of deadlift on a basically empty stomach haha


CT suggests waking up several hours earlier than you train. If memory serves, he wakes at around 4 AM for training at 6 or 7.


Thanks ill see if i can dig that one up


I have been moving all assistance work and cardio/conditioning to the mornings and keep the compound lifts at 9pm. Works for me and means I don’t spend too long at night.


I will do it during the summer some seasons because work gets chaotic as does summer session. I normally train at 9 or so, and during the summer I’ll go around 5-5:30 am. Like others said, go light on what you eat or drink. I like about a half cup of that kashi cereal with blueberries and coffee. Also, I’ll wake up at 4:30 or so, eat by 5 and be starting my first set by 5:30. Just take it slow, really try and find your routine, and don’t get to upset at first if it’s difficult.


I like that idea


Im thinking more and more i need probably another 30 minutes in the morning. I am getting up at 5 and trying to eat within ten minutes of getting up. Maybe im just rushing a little too much. Thanks for the advice


It was a good compromise for me. I can’t train heavy in the morning… at all. I train in my basement though, so it’s free for me to go to the gym twice a day.


I am in the same situation as you I currently have a home gym setup so it is definitely nice. I think im gonna continue forward with the morning lifts and if nothing is giving going into the new year i think ill try to do something similar to what you mentioned above. Thanks.


Been training at 0500 since 2013. Still don’t feel good and strong training at that time.

I learned to just feel awful and still train. As long as I make progress under those conditions, I am good.


Words of wisdom


I usually wake up at 3 am. I get somethings done and down a shake and pre workout at 3:30am. Get to the gym at 4am. Run for 10 minutes to get my blood flowing and really wake me up. Then 45-50 minutes of my routine after that every other day. Get home and smash some more protein and creatine and I’m good.


And it sounds like more evidence that i need to be up ealier than i am getting up currently. thanks


From my experience, I can say that if you wanna train early in the morning (I do it since 2015) you have to be in a fasting state or just drink a shake. I’ve found my best place by waking up 40-45 minutes before the workout, downing a coffee and bcaa+creatine and go working out. Every time i tried to have breakfast I felt bloated and out of energy.


I do well with 2 cups of fruit with honey. Something light. I add a cookie if I am gaining.


Perfect world get some Plazma but otherwise yeah get in a load of EAAs and a karbolyn type product(easy digesting clean carb drink)

Often overlooked but couple big glasses of water the second you wake/right next to bed can make a huuge difference also


The Best Training Time

Research shows the most effective training time for the majority of individuals is later in the afternoon.

The reason for that has to do with…

Circadian Rhythm

Your Circadian Rhythm has to do with the fluctuation of your body temperature during the day.

There is an “Ebb and Flow” effect with your body temperature; it is tantamount to the ebb and flow of the ocean’s low and high tide or day and night.

Circadian Rhythm determine if you are a “Night Owl” or an “Early Bird”.

Body Temperature

You are most efficient when your body temperature is at its highest.

Your are least effective when your body temperate is at its lowest.

Your Circadian Rhythm is a genetic quality. It can’t be changed but it can me modified, somewhat.

Low Body Temperature = Low Performance

You body temperature, especially “Night Owls”, is at its lowest in the morning. Thus, “Night Owls” tend to struggle more and be less productive early in the day.

“Early Bird”, such as myself, for the most part wake up ready to do. However, I still take an hour or longer to allow my body temperature to increase.

Thus, the focus needs to be on elevating your body temperature prior to your training.

With that said, let look at how to increase your body temperature prior to your training session.

Transition Tips

  1. Wake up an hour before your training session. Your body temperature automatically begins to increase upon waking.

  2. Coffee/Caffeine: It is a thermogenic agent that increases your metabolism, gets your blood pumping and increases your body temperature.

That is one of the reason it is the first thing many people have when they wake.

  1. Warm Up Suit: Upon waking, dress for warmth in layers the hour or so before your training session. Put on a heavy winter coat. This increases your body temperature.

One of the things I do is put my Warm Up Suit in the dryer before putting it on.

I also have a heavy ski jacked that I place in the dryer, then put on.

  1. Sauna Suit: A few months ago, I ended up purchasing the Kutting Weight Sauna Suit. It well made is very effective for increasing your body temperature. It’s a neoprene suit, essentially a Scuba Suit.

  2. Heating Blanket: A book on Circadian Rhythm recommended this for “Night Owls” who struggled with early morning hours.

They recommended getting a timer for the electric blanket and setting it to go off 30 to 60 minutes before you wake.

  1. Passive Warm Up; If you workout at a gym, dress in your Warm Ups and a heavy jacket. While driving over, turn your car heater up full blast.

“Those Crazy East Germans”

“The East Germans understood the role of additional heat when an extensive review of world record performances revealed how often the record setter was at the early stages of a cold and running a fever when the record was set. (Later into the cold, the adverse effects outweigh the benefits, of course.) This led the East Germans to experiment with de-natured viruses to generate a slight fever immediately prior to a world record attempt!” Source: Charlie Francis, High Octane Training: https://www.t-nation.com/training/high-octane-training-2

One of the benefits of elevating your body temperature is the increases Heat Shock Proteins: These protein assist with growth, recovery endurance , etc.

“Intermittent Hyperthermia” (short periods) produce a additional variety benefits.

Kenny Croxdale


Eating Prior To Training

It isn’t necessary. Your muscle glycogen stores are full.

You burn virtually no glycogen during sleeping.

Sleeping essentially is an ultra low aerobic event. What few energy/calories are burned come from body fat, not glucose.

Also, the majority of training session do not fully deplete glucose.

However, if you feel more comfortable with eating something prior to your training session, it’s fine.

Research (Dr Brad Schoenfeld) determined that what is most important for maintaining and increasing muscle mass is composite nutrient intake for the day.

In other word, what is most important the amount of food you eat during the day rather than the timing in consuming something before, during and after your training session.

However, their is an exception to the “Timing Rule”. It is with…

The Refractory Period

Research (Dr Layne Norton/PhD Nutrition/Pro Natural Card Bodybuilder/:Powerlifter) found that Muscle Protein Synthesis for building muscle mass is optimized when protein/meals are consumed approximately every 4 to 5 hours.

The dogma of eating every three hours is incorrect; yet still perpetuated.

Sponge Example

The muscle respond like a sponge. A sponge soaks up water when it is dry, rather than soaking wet.

Muscles do the same. Norton’s research found that, metaphorically speaking, the “Muscle Sponge” was most receptive in the 4 to 5 hours after the previous meal; the “Muscle Sponge” was dry and readily soaked up and utilized protein optimally.

Kenny Croxdale