On Morning Exercise

November 21, 2010 Training

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:

2. EXPECTATIONS ARE THE ENEMY HERE. ESPECIALLY HERE. SO IS “SESSION” MENTALITY AND MANY OF THE MODERN EXERCISE CULTURE DOGMAS. I MUST TAKE THE TIME AS PLAYTIME, AND VIEW THIS AS A PHYSICAL HYGIENE IF SOMETHING IS TO BE LEARNED OR CRUSHED. MY EXPERIENCE:

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

Dude, do you think Yang from Final Fantasy IV eats half of a piece of fruit and one slice of toast with jam before his 8 hour morning martial arts practice on the mountain? No way man! He eats pig meat and pounds of cooked rice. Oh wait. He’s a video game character. Nevermind.

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!

10 comments

  1. Valvolt Nova says:

    Juji,
    about breakfast… what do you think about “Meat and Nuts”? Low carb, high protein and moderate fats to improve alertness and boost neurotransmitters in the morning.
    People like Charles Poliquin and maybe also Thomas Kurz advocate this kind of breakfast.
    So, what’s your take here? Ever tried it?

    • Jon Call says:

      I’ve read that one from Charles Poliquin. I know what you’re talking about. Yes I’ve done low carb things a million times in the past. If you’re already insulin resistant to some degree, trying to lose weight, or don’t exercise much it’s not a bad choice for the short term, while you teach your body to use carbs. Low carb breakfast isn’t a bad choice tactically during certain times. But just to say “I EAT LOW CARB BREAKFAST OF MEAT AND NUTS FOR BRAIN BOOST EVERY MORNING” is laughable. Why every morning? Why all the time? Why everybody? You do know the brain’s main source of fuel is glucose? Who’s going to be short changed the most on something like this? High performance athletes who are good at using carbs, who trained yesterday hard and fasted all night while they slept. Their bodies WANT carbs in the morning. Charles can science me all he wants but I’m not going to get bigger and stronger by cutting carbs out at breakfast. Are we high performance athletes? Besides that, how does anyone become a high performance athlete? Do they do it by not eating carbs at breakfast? No. They ate them all along the way to training more and more and better and better, which made their bodies want carbs more and more from moderate to moderate-more. I think you’ll find almost no intermediate / elite athletes on this planet or bodybuilder for that matter who sweepingly adopts something like “low carb” breakfast dogmatically or year round. In short: it probably doesn’t do jack shit a difference. At least one thing intermittent fasters have discovered: there is more magic in total carbs consumed daily and peri-training carbs than where you put them outside the training window… morning or evening.

      Anyway, I guess I can just suggest doing it for a few weeks, but realizing how it fits into a bigger picture. 🙂

    • Jon Call says:

      btw, I have an experiment for you. This one from John Berardi. Eat all your protein first in a meal, all your fat. THEN eat your carbs. Try spacing them out a bit, carbs always second. This is the perfect experiment for Thanksgiving dinner. Eat all your turkey first, take a break, then eat all your potatoes and sweet stuff. Don’t eat until your stuffed. Watch what happens. 😉 It’s pretty cool.

  2. Mustafa says:

    Juji, please tell me what happens when you do that (eat protein then fat then carbs). Pls respond

    • Jon Call says:

      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. “

  3. Aaron says:

    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.

    • Jon Call says:

      I’d also go to bed excited for the morning coffee before the morning workout! 😀

      I sort of miss early morning training. Maybe one day I’ll be able to experience it again.

  4. […] On Morning Exercise. […]

  5. Naji says:

    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 says:

      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 😀

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