Those of you who know much about my habits know that I have always worked out first thing in the morning. I get up at 4:30 to 4:45, and start my workout about 5:30 every day. This has benefits and drawbacks. I feel the benefits FAR outweigh the drawbacks.
The biggest benefit to me is that it’s predictable. I can always get up early, get it done and not worry about interruptions or changes in my schedule interfering. I can’t tell you how often I get emails from people who say, “I had stuff come up and didn’t get a chance to do my workout last night. What should I do now? Skip it? Be a day behind?”. I never have that problem!
The biggest drawbacks to an early workout are that it’s not fun giving up that extra 1 hour of sleep in the wee hours of the morning, and it’s basically impossible to eat a “pre-workout meal” 1 hour prior to working out. I spent the first 2 rounds working out on a totally empty stomach, and then transitioned to working out on just a scoop of whey mixed in water for round 3 and 4. I decided it didn’t make too much difference to my performance, so I went back to working out on an empty stomach for the past couple rounds. I also use a BCAA drink during my workout (Purple Wraath) which I feel helps give my muscles some needed building blocks during my workout since there is nothing in the tank for my muscles to pull from.
Working out with little-to-no preworkout food has mixed reviews. Some say it will lead to poorer performance since your body is running on empty and doesn’t have the energy to push as hard. Others say that you will lose more body fat by working out on an empty stomach. From personal experience, I can say that although it was hard at first, I adjusted to the early morning workouts and now feel like I can work out just as hard on an empty (or near empty) stomach in the morning as I can in the mid-afternoon with a good “pre-workout” lunch. And as for whether or not working out on an empty stomach helped me lose more body fat, I can’t know for sure, but I definitely had great results and lost a lot of body fat in my P90X round 1 while working out on an empty stomach!
Another thing I really like about working out early in the morning is that my metabolism stays revved up all morning. I’ve done some experimenting with my heart rate monitor, and when I do an Insanity workout in the morning, not only do I burn over 1,000 calories on the workout itself, I continue to burn calories at a high rate the rest of the morning even though I’m at work doing nothing! I typically will burn well over another 1,000 calories before lunch just because I’m revved up from the morning workout! My HR stays slightly elevated for a few hours after my workout — at about 70 or so (my resting HR when totally relaxed is about 50 or less). What a great bonus for calorie burning!
Finally, I just like to know that as I sit down to breakfast, I’ve already taken care of my workout and don’t have to spend the rest of my day thinking about where and when I’m going to get it done. It’s already done … I’ve already conquered it! And now I can focus on conquering the rest of my day!
I think the biggest factor in when to work out is what will be the most predictable, consistent time for you to get your workout in? If you always have the same time open every afternoon to do it, or every evening to do it, that’s fine. And if you have a job that has you working different shifts, look at your schedule and block out the times you will work out each day depending on your schedule for that day. Just be sure that you DO IT EVERY DAY and don’t miss! You don’t have to work out in the morning just because Coach Wayne does, but you should evaluate your day, and if you are missing workouts because stuff comes up in the evenings, consider getting up an hour earlier in the morning so that those interruptions don’t ruin your momentum. Letting things “come up” that bump your workout off the schedule will kill your momentum, and ultimately lead to discouragement and failure with your fitness goals. Pick a time, block it out, don’t let anything interfere, and get it done!
I often get questions from people who workout very late in the day (after they get their kids to bed or whatever), and they have all sorts of difficulties about taking pre-workouts (since it keeps them up at night) or whether or not to use a recovery drink since they will be going to bed right afterward. I ask them why not just workout in the morning? They reply that they can’t get up an hour earlier because that will mean they don’t get the minimum amount of sleep they need. (you see the error in their reasoning, don’t you??)
If they simply went to bed earlier, instead of working out late at night, they COULD wake up earlier, do an early morning workout, and save themselves all sorts of time and difficulties. They wouldn’t have the PWO and recovery drink problems. They would sleep BETTER because they could wind down in the evening and go to sleep restfully instead of trying to go to bed right after an intense workout. They wouldn’t have to shower twice (after the evening workout and then again when getting ready in the morning). There are so many benefits to just going to bed at the end of your day so that you can wake up an hour earlier and knock it out!!
One more statistic for you = studies have shown that people who work out first thing in the morning are MORE LIKELY to still be working out 1 year later! I’m obviously proof of that! I’ve been consistently working out well over a year now. I believe it’s because people who work out first thing in the morning have made it a priority and there is less chance of schedule interferences. Make your workouts a priority, whatever time of day you do them!
Coach Wayne, Do you have any posts regarding how you should schedule your meals if you workout first thing in the morning? What time of day should I be eating the bulk of my proteins? Is there a more "advantageous" time to take in my carbs? Is there a time when I should stop eating carbs? Thanks, Jed
Hey Jed, I work out in the AM. So all of my sample diets reflect that. Protein is important post workout, and then I pretty much space it out evenly throughout the day. I do end the day with a scoop of whey in water most days. I rarely had carbs left by dinner (outside of veggies) when I was cutting.
Hi Coach, I note that you say you workout "every day" - I was just wondering if you included the 7th day / X Stretch during your first round of P90X or took the optional "Rest" day?
Coach, Due to my kids going back to school and me taking night classes, I very recently began working out first thing in the morning too. Waking up at about 5:45 and on the mats by 6:00. I'm finishing up a hybrid round of Insanity/P90x after which I'll be starting Body Beast. I think it's really the best way to start the day. As you say, get it out of the way and forget about it! At first I tried using a pre-workout drink of 1MR on weight training days with decent effect. Of course, the only drawback is that you have to wait 15-30 minutes before you work out. Today, however, I did the Insanity Upper body workout without the 1MR and still was able to push myself quite effectively. I'm very interested in the BCAA drink that you mentioned, Wayne. Is there a particular brand that you would suggest? Do you talk about it in any of your other posts? Sincerely, Jed H
Hey Jed, I recommend and having been using Purple Waarth. It is by controlled labs. Helps keep your muscles fueled even when working out on an empty stomach. I talk a little about it in my update supplements video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_OlOExFjkk
They have a gym right on campus that would work. I just got a laptop last week. I will go and see it all tomorrow and try to determine what would be best lol. There's no way I'm stopping now. My favorite part of the day is that one hour.
I usually workout everyday at 6 before school. Last year was my senior year in high school so that was fine. Wake up at 5 and workout by 6 and be at school on time. Now I'm starting college on Monday and I don't want to be a typical student gaining the freshmen 15 and want to keep doing my p90x2/p90x/asylum hybrid but I'm worried my roommates won't want me working out in the room early nonetheless at all. What should I so coach??
Anthony, have you checked out the Rec Center on campus? Do you have a gym you could take your laptop to?
Hey Coach. Yesterday was my second week at P90X, woke up just before 5am and I got one hell of a work out,and this morning I lost all motivation to get up early. I have no problem getting up, I was in the Marines, I did lot more with less sleep. I just need a good push. Any suggestions?
Glenn it is all about your "why." Have you committed to this? I knew, no matter what, I was going to workout every day and eat only what I planned. I made a one time commitment. Do it man! Make sure you are getting to bed earlier enough and maybe add a little preworkout for a boost in the AM. Bring it!
hey coach, I work the night shift 7pm-7am..My problem is i have to sleep during the day :(.. Do I just do my workouts Mon-Thur in the Evenings when I wake for work or when i get off from work..My sleep is very important on these days, im on my feet for 12 hours most of the night..and also what kind of eating plan you suggest..thanks and Im a big fan of yours
Hey coach, i noticed in your updated x2 results you were doing ab work w/o shoes...Does wearing shoes make a difference when working on abs?
Thomas, no real difference. A little less weight, but shouldn't be that noticeable. It's all personal preference.
Hey coach, I know that sleeping enough is vital to being healthy, but what about napping? Can napping inhibit ur metabolism? B/c when your body is in that state of rest, ur metabolism slows, so doesn't that mean that the food you eat before you take a nap can more easily be turned into fat?
Thomas, I wouldn't be too concerned about napping. Eating too many calories is what gets stored as fat. If you are tracking everything and under your maintenance level, you will lose weight!
I'm glad someone besides myself works out before eating breakfast. I've been doing it for the last 13 weeks with no problems. I believe it burns more fat. If there is no sugar in your blood, and no sugar in your stomach there is only one place to get energy....fat
Hey Coach I am waking at 5:00 most mornings to do my workouts and am pushing it a little to get to work on time. My question: on those days that call for Abripper, is it any worse to just do that portion after work? Eight days into this journey to a healthier me - down six pounds and loving the program Thanks again for all the information and inspiration Brent
Brent - You can split the Ab Ripper off. Make sure you get it in! Don't save it for later, only to forget to do it. Or you can get up at 4:45...
I'll give morning (early) workouts a try next week. I homeschool, so my schedule usually allows for mid morning workouts, which I prefer. However, I work 9-10 hours Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, which has been messing up my schedule (ex. I'm about to work out at 11pm). Hope this can help me out a bit.
I tried today. I woke up at 3 a.m. with 5 hours of sleep (usually get 6 to 7) but with my current schedule, I will have to cut them down. So lose them early or lose them later. Either way it's still 5 hours. I did "Just Arms" and cardio Abs. Surprisingly, I had plenty of energy. Now, I just gotta get my fiancee to get used to the noise. And I got to get used to no PWO. :-(
Roman I know just what you mean. Thankfully plyometrics has taught me to be like a cat, or as I prefer ninja. No wife or child was woken in the creation of this body, haha.
I love the idea of morning workouts. I tried it few times and every time one of my children have woken up because of some sound. Morning workout is forbidden for me LOL!
Hey coach, Long time following, first time posting. Great post as always and it rings so true. I started P90x lasted summer and 45 days in started being 'unable' to fit in those late night workouts. I've started and stopped a few times, but now i'm 1 week in to p90x/1-on-1/insanity hybrid (just works better for me) and working in the mornings. I feel so positive the rest of the day. Keep up the great work. And thanks for all you do. If only the UK had BB setup. ;)
Great article Coach. I have 2 weeks left of my first round of P90X. I always had the dilemma of fitting a workout in my day. I did not think I could wake up at 4:30 in the morning. But after reading some of your previous articles I decided to give it a try. I am happy to say that I have been doing it since day 1 of my first round and it has not been an issue. I did what you said and just go to bed earlier rather than doing unproductive things like watching TV. The getting up early to workout has been one of the determining factors in the results I am seeing with myself. Thanks for all the advice.
Wow coach you're phenomenal! No wonder you get such phenomenal results! What is your take on the protein bars? I see that you eat two a day. And do you have any websites to purchase the bars online? :)
I like either the Pure Protein bars from walmart (very low sugar) or the Quest bars, which you have to order online (very natural).
Oh another thing! Do you eat the same thing everyday? Your meals are identical LOL. And do you drink the recovery drink everyday or only after a workout?
Yes Vee, I like to eat the same thing every day with the exception of dinner, which is different every day. That's how I roll LOL. And yes, I only take the R/R after a hard workout, but I workout every day LOL!
My sleep is not really the problem. It's having that recovery drink so late. I don't think it's hurting that much but I am just gonna let go of my 4 day schedule because with my recent changes, I just don't like working out late. By then, I am more into let me get this done mode. I have always been more like "Woo hoo, time to workout." You know my situation and doubling my commuting is not helping. I am gonna finish my 4 day schedule this week and just go on 5 days and workout at 4a.m. next week. Thanks Coach.
Hi coach I just joined your team and befriended you on MFP. Saw your diary and am wondering why some of the days you skip dinner since you said we need to have fuel in our bodies between dinner and bed? Is it an exception when trying to create a larger deficit?
Hey Vee! I never skip dinner!!! I love dinner LOL! I just sometimes don't get around to putting it into the MFP. After 2 years of tracking everything, sometimes I allow myself a little freedom as long as I know what I eat for dinner (I always allow myself about 500-600 calories for dinner, and it's always something healthy, but my evenings are hectic with the kiddos so I don't always record it).
I would love to wake up early to workout but unfortunately, I already wake up early to get to work. Someday I might live closer to work and I will definitely do that. Right now the only way I can do morning workouts is by giving up my 4 day schedule. I might though because with my current situation, I find myself working out till 11-11:30p. And now I run into the question, should I drink my RR this late? I do and have no idea if it hurts me. Coach, why do you always drink some whey before bed? Is it to promote recovery overnight or you just want a healthy snack?
Hey Marlon, I have dinner about 5:30 or 6, and I go to bed about 9:45, so it is wise to get a little protein in my system between dinner and bed to keep my muscles fueled for muscle building overnight. As for your dilemma with working out very late at night and what to do about the recovery drink, see the article above where I addressed that. You can get just as much sleep (more, actually) if you'll just go to bed instead of staying up so late to workout and then get up earlier to workout.
My schedule can be a little unique so i thought I would share. I am a police officer and work 12 hour shifts 6-6. Every 4 months I switch form days to nights, or vice versa. When I work 6a-6p i already get up at 4:30 so getting cup even earlier isn't usually an option. I almost never get to bed before 10 so the lack of sleep would be bad. On day shift lift days, I often just stay at work and use the department gym, work out from 6:15-7:30 or so and then head home for dinner family etc. Cardio days I head home and work out right away. No pre workouts because it is so close to bed time. When I am on night shift working 6p-6a I can work out when I wake up. I get to bed by 7am most mornings so I can wake up at 2 pm and workout before I go to work. This also allows me to use a pre workout since I am going to be up all night. The awakens of a pre workout is actually an added bonus for long nights. Also when on night shift I try not to switch my schedule to a day sleep pattern on my days off. I end up losing a meal because I am not awake long enough or I get crazy hungry because I have to stay up a long time switching back. I know it sounds complicated but it works for me and I am able to push play everyday and keep working towards my goals.
That's definitely not easy when you have a constantly changing schedule TXLEO. I'm proud of you for making no excuses and getting it done! That's awesome!
Hey Coach I used to make all kind of excuses when I would get home from work why I did not feel like working out. I tried getting up early only to hug my pillow more. Working out after work can be hard sometimes because things come up. I get up 4:20am in the morning and by 4:30am I am pushing play. I have found that by working out in the morning it helps me to have a more productive day at the job. Those morning workouts are helping me to burn the fat as well.
Good stuff Wayne! I work out in the morning as much as possible, but sometimes it gets bumped to the evening. However, I never miss the workout. The benefit of the morning workout is that you can give your time to your kids/spouse/significant other in the evening. If you still have to workout, that becomes more difficult. If I have to wait until the evening, it is always after my son goes to bed. The worst thing it that it is hard to flip in a week back to mornings once you slide to the evening. One last thing, I don't suggest the 1 am workout. I had to do that one Friday because of all that occurred that day. My wife was not amused and called me a crazy person. Maybe so, but I have to stay on track. I am never going back to where I was.
hey coach could i do for say my resistance day workouts after skool and my cardio days in the Am? will it make any difference if i do so? i would do them all in the am, but the resistance days + abs in the am dont give me enough time to get out the door in time
Hey Chris, it's best for your body to be in a rhythm if at all possible. I'd suggest doing the cardio and lift workouts in the am and then just do the abs in the pm after school since they are in addition to the lift workouts (you don't have to do abs immediately after the lifting).
Hey Jordan, I have a little gel cap that is fish/flaxseed/borage oil and I take one in the am and one in the pm. I got it at walmart.
Sure will... The articles are pretty interesting on it calling it a breakthrough in amino Acid supplements... But what better way to find out then to just try it...i will keep u updated