What really started this blog off was a typical Tuesday and Thursday morning. I walk into a room of zombie-like clients wiping away all of there eye boogers and waiting for me to yell at them to stretch their tightness away. It’s a good amount of people. Definitely not as big as a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. But around 15-18 people or so.
The structure around my Tuesday and Thursday workouts are based around the questions I ask myself every morning, “What is going to be best for us? What are we lacking in our fitness program?”
Sometimes it is conditioning based. Sometimes we take a page from my old bodybuilding days and work completely on legs or arms. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we do intervals. Either way they all have one thing in common. . .
They are DAMN good.
I get upset at myself frequently for writing these workouts and not being able to have half of my registered clients even be able to take them, due to the fact that I don’t have PM classes on those days (which will be changing rather soon). I usually tell my clients to come do the workout on the board and take my featured Kettlebell class on Thursday nights. My 5AM, 6AM, 7AM, and 9AM get rather spoiled with these Tuesday and Thursday barnburners though.
So while my early morning classes are scurrying around Jungle Gym trying to still wake up, I always find myself with my arms crossed thinking, “Man, this is such a good workout. I wish everyone in Jungle Gym could do this one today.” It’s hard, however. 5AM is very early. I’m lucky to have 30-40 show up on a regular basis.
My goal though . . . is to make it 80. I want everyone to show up early. I want everyone to be a morning person. Studies show that early morning workouts cause less stress on your workouts, decrease cortisol levels throughout the day, encourages mental affixations with maintaining a healthy day, and even some suggest increased metabolism for better overall fat loss.
So that’s where this blog idea came from. It came from all of the Jungle Gym clients that look at the Tuesday and Thursday morning folk and say, “I wish I could do those workouts.” Well, you can. Even though I am going to provide tips for AMers and PMers, the majority of the information deals with your morning routine. Some people don’t even have routines. Wake up, drink coffee, get in the car, go work-out/work. Just because they show up to the gym, doesn’t mean their workout was beneficial to them. This is where having a guy like myself, who has been training at 5AM for 10 years, can help a brother or sister out.
Therefore, I’m going to load this blog up with a massive amount of tips to help you wake up, feel better, recover faster, eat healthier, be stronger, and whine less. Nobody likes a whiner.
1.) You have to be a morning person. That doesn’t mean you have to workout in the morning. It does mean you can’t just wake up, run to the bathroom to brush your teeth, find a pair of mix-matched socks, then go to work. Your body doesn’t respond well to that. Right when you wake up from sleep, your body is SO prone to many things. Is it going to start burning fat immediately? How long are you going to take to get warm? Is your mind awake right when the alarm goes off? In fitness, being a morning person is a huge advantage. Your cortisol levels will be extremely dependent of this.
2.) Drink something hot. I tell all of my clients (AMers, nooners, and PMers) to drink tea or coffee in the morning right when they wake up. This instantly gives your muscles the wake up call they need. It’s like pouring hot water all over something frozen. Drink peppermint tea. It aids in alertness.
Side note: Have you read my Epic Eats cookbook? There is a recipe for steam water tea. Take your favorite vegetable, steam it, save the water, add lemon and honey. Enjoy as tea.
3.) Chug water. Chugging 8 ounces of water right when the alarm goes off will instantly wake up your vital organs. The most important one being your brain. I used to think coffee was the thing that got my brain going in the morning when I was writing workouts. Once I gave up coffee in the morning and started having my first coffee at 9AM, I realized that all along it was the water.
4.) Walk or shower. There are two things depending on the weather or time that you should do in the morning. Getting your synovial fluid in your joints warmed up ASAP is key for recovery time. Imagine your joints being filled with coconut oil. Put the coconut oil in the microwave and it becomes a liquid and lubricated. That’s your joint structure. Taking a warm shower or going on a long walk (or both) will help tremendously. The great thing about a long walk is that you can knock out two Kanye’s with one Kim by walking and drinking your hot, steamy beverage.
5.) Time your meal. If you’re working out in the morning, YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT. Your workout can easily be fueled by last night’s meal. However, eating afterwards to replenish is key. The myth that food gets your metabolism going in the morning is false. It’ll keep your digestive system chewing along, but your metabolism is dictated by your muscles. Therefore, that workout (the one you completed without eating beforehand) will be your metabolism’s rocket. There’s a big chance of cortisol levels going off in the morning, and a lot of people may think it’s food’s fault. However, I firmly believe that if you wake up your mind, your organs, and your nervous system immediately that cortisol (your stress hormone) won’t elevate. If you don’t work out in the morning, get a meal in. This is where a piece of fruit comes in handy.
6.) Do basic stretches and foam rolling. Take a foam roller and roll out your sore muscles. Do basic stretches to stretch out your tight muscles from the week’s workouts. Do your heavy stretching before and after your workout to improve flexibility. However, two really important things you should do in the morning that only take 2 minutes are vital for spots of your body. Take a lacrosse ball and roll out your feet. Doing this will loosen up your lower legs like your plantar, achilles, and calf muscles. Taking tension from those will drastically improve your injury prevention. In fact, this is great practice for those with shin splints. Shoulder rotations are also key. Take a towel, jump rope, or broomstick and have your arms tight overhead so you look like a “Y”. Rotate your shoulders front to back while keeping your elbows locked. The wider you are, the easier. The closer, the harder. Your goal is to be able to do a full rotation as close as possible.
7.) Plan ahead. With all this being said, you have to start planning the night before. Have your first meal prepped and planned. Have your clothes packed. Set your alarm. Do all of this the night before. Start making habits.
8.) Wake up your mind. This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but it works. About 6 years ago I was at a conference in Virginia Beach and I was talking to a doctor who was published in Men’s Health or Men’s Fitness (I can’t remember). He was talking about the mind and waking it up. He told me to start doing things in the morning with my non-dominant hand, like brushing my teeth or drinking my coffee. I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. In the mornings when I can remember, I always do stuff with my non-dominant hands, and it gets me to thinking quick. I’ve noticed that I’m able to come up with workouts and programs quicker and remember plans in my day easier. This really gets my attention and memory going.
9.) Do something explosive. I’m not a big fan of telling you to do a 30 minute workout in the morning to get you ready for your day. However, I prefer doing something really explosive, and pooping does not count. I’m talking about burpee jacks, sprints, or star jumps. If you’re coming to the gym, my preferred warm up and all around getting-your-motor-skills-alive exercise is a simple ball slam. In my opinion, it’s the best warm up exercise for any type of workout.
I want you to be a morning person. I want you to show up early to these workouts. I can’t guarantee you with specifics. I can guarantee you with studies though, and in my profession for the past 10 years, the early morning risers are the ones with more results, more consistency, and better eating habits. I know some of us have kids, and dogs, and weird job shifts. Sometimes it’s impossible to workout in the morning. But to Jungle Gym, I beg of you; try and find a way to make Tuesday and Thursday morning workouts, and use these tips for your other mornings. This way you can be ready to dominate your Monday, Wednesday, and Friday workouts.
This is where your body changes,