On Morning Exercise

mindset nutrition warmup

1. Last year my morning training sessions were rough and something I admittedly dreaded a little. This year I've gotten better at it. It's been the thing I look forward to so much! So much so that many nights feel like the night before a birthday or Christmas. My differences in a nutshell:


3. Expectations are only of excretory significance:

  • Oh man, it's gonna be impossible to front squat that much weight this morning.

  • Oh man, I just don't think I'll be able to trick that well so early.

  • Oh man, it's cold and dark out there on the track. It's just... wrong to go out there to do sprints.

  • It's gonna be hard keeping up a decent level of performance so early in the morning.

First steps: Moderate your expectations and just show up. Expectations are good only to encourage your bowels to pass a series of micro-shits. They should not encourage brooding or dread. Don't overprogram or overplan. Don't be shy either. Just show up.

If you're fortunate you'll draw upon strength you didn't expect you'd have and you'll have an amazing morning "session", possibly setting some personal records and feeling like a god the rest of the day. But if you don't feel mighty, you'll still end up feeling better and having more fun than if you didn't show up.

4. Food: Start the day's journey by eating a strong breakfast. And if you wish, drain some coffee or crunch a caffeine tablet. Then go. Don't be a pussy eater before the morning exercise. Don't opt for a light snack of toast, a banana, and a half cup of yogurt with a little whey protein mixed in it or something wimpy like that. Lung down a startling protein meal shake. Gobble some tinned or leftover meat from last night's dinner. oats or a potato. raw cabbage and onions. a pot of eggs. Make it a valiant meal. Then go forth! Do NOT wait for digestion. Your exercise IS your digestion.

Yang, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy 4

5. A warmup: This will take care of itself as long as you are efficient in preparation and allot an appropriate amount of time. I show up at the track, the gymnasium, the field, or the playground anywhere between 5 am and 6 am. I don't have to be at work until 8 am. That gives me several hours to play. I have time. I take time.

6. Try one thing: personally, I prefer to start exercising in the morning by picking one thing and not thinking past it. This morning I'm doing weighted pullups. And that's it. I'll go from there. This also reduces warmup time since I pretty-much warmup for that one thing. This has made my morning exercising more focused and effective. And much more enjoyable. And in fact, when I'm done with that one thing and inevitably go onto something else I'm *gasp* kind of systematically warmed up. Yes folks, doing several sets of heavy pullups will actually prepare you for lower body exercises. (I'm too lazy to insert something about the CNS here).

Anyway, last year I'd go in early trying to stick to some ambitious little program I'd spent an hour designing some weekend previous, which made the experience kind of suck. So I suggest trying this one thing approach.

7. Reconsider peri-training shakes and the like: cute little plastic sippie cups with bright-pink protein powders! Micro-scoops for emasculate. erh... immaculate and ergonomic measuring of hyper-precise, metrobolic performance enhancemenersss for the modern young MASTER of physical fitness and. glLlll.. Gotta work and earn those peri-training designer smart carbs lololol!!!1... zibzub. .

Zibzub, The Guardian Legend

8. On showering: if you provide yourself enough time you can take a shower at the gymnasium. If you're not at a gymnasium and still have provided yourself enough time you can wipe down and cool down so you won't have to bother with the shower. Just allot yourself the time if you think this is necessary. End of story.

9. A sleep cycle pun: I don't feel tired training early in the morning and don't feel restless when I slide into bed early in the evening. Because I'm in the habit of training in the morning, training afternoon on lunch break, and training after work in the evening; training is really just a code word for being an active fellow who likes moving a lot! So staying awake past 8 pm is impossible.

Well, it's possible, but since I'm exhausted and looking forward to training again the next morning (because it's fun to me), I don't even consider the prospect of winding down by browsing the internet wonderlands for 20 minutes... which would turn into 2 hours. That's just not fun to me. So I scoot under the covers to awaken again that much sooner ready to run outside and play, which is more fun, of course, after a full night's rest!

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  • Naji on

    Juji, I have to disagree with the strong meal before a morning session and propose a good amount of water with a strong coffee with suger. I do it all the time – I wake up, load on 1 liter of water and a coffee, put on some trash metal and i start the workout. I eat after. My logic is driven by the fact that when you start training your autonomic nervous system redirects the blood from your gastrointestinal tract (GI) and other nonessentials to the brain-heart-kidney-skeletal muscles (take a look at your dick in the heat of a tricking/weightlifting session – it’s small and pale because all the blood is pumped out – same goes for the GI). So If you eat and start the workout the solid food just sits in your stomach for the duration of the workout and you dont get the benefit of its nutrition until after you finish and the parasympathetic nerves redirect blood to your guts again. On the other hand – eating and working out directly after that on a regular basis gets you closer to that elusive peptic ulcer you allways wanted. Sarcasum off – good article :)

  • Krystof on

    That sounds like it make sense…but you need energy for working out, or not? For exemple me – i prefer some high carb breakfast before workout to have energy…i cannot imagine, how should i workout after night with no food…like, where should i take the energy? p.s. i dont drink coffe :D

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  • Jon Call on

    I googled it, couldn’t find John Berardi’s original write up on it, but found another post on a forum that summarizes it well, here’s the excerpt:

    “Food for thought, here — or maybe make that “mental alertness.” (grin) There is definitely a strong brain chemistry component to alertness or lethargy.

    Whether you’re alert after a carb-containing meal can be influenced by the proteins in the meal and the carbs that accompany the protein. Protein foods which contain the amino acid tryptophan tend to sedate the brain, and protein foods containing the amino acid tyrosine wake up the brain.

    Rich dietary sources of tryptophan are eggs, milk, bananas, dairy, sunflower seeds and meat. Eating a lot of carbs with tryptophan-containing foods increases their sedative effect. Carbs trigger the release of insulin, which sends the amino acids that compete with tryptophan into muscle tissue. This allows more tryptophan to get into the brain. Serotonin production goes up and lethargy/sleepiness follows.

    Fewer carbs and calories with more protein, on the other hand, will make you more alert after eating.

    The amino acid that perks up the brain is tyrosine, found in seafood, turkey, tofu, legumes, and tuna.

    Even the order in which you eat the food in your meal can affect mental alertness. Whether the brain will rev up or slow down depends on whether tyrosine or tryptophan gets into the brain first. Eat the protein first, and you allow the amino acid, tyrosine, to wake up the brain. Then when you eat the carbs, the tryptophan ushered into the brain by insulin will have less effect.

    So, if you want to wake up the brain, eat a high-protein meal and eat the protein before the carbs; if you want the brain to relax, eat a high-
    carbohydrate meal and eat the carbs before the protein. "

  • Aaron on

    I feel like I remember this post waaaaaay back on TricksTutorials, sometime in 2004. I think it was your first paragraph that clicked the most with me – that you’d go to bed excited for the morning’s workout.

    I’ve told people about this feeling before, but they just don’t get it. I suppose it’s my best kept un-secret for now.

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