3 Ways to Dominate Your Morning Workout

You’re up, but the sun’s not. Here are some simple ways to make the most of your morning routine

An early morning workout is one of the best ways to fire up your fat burners and hit the ground running. But it’s not always easy. A few extra minutes of sleep are tremendously enticing when it’s still dark outside and the rest of the world isn’t awake yet. So if you manage to make it out of bed and to the gym, you deserve to get the most out of your time there. Here are my favorite tips for an effective early morning workout.

Skip the heavy weights.
Now, before you flip out, hear me out. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t lift heavy the entire time—just don’t do it during the first 30 minutes of your workout.

Here’s why: After sleeping for six-plus hours, your spine decompresses and the discs fill up with water. This makes your back stiff. If you immediately start picking up and putting down heavy weights, you’ll significantly increase your risk of a back injury.

Ideally, you’d wake up 30 minutes earlier to give your spine time to adjust. But if setting your alarm even a minute earlier sounds as fun as watching a marathon of Dancing With the Stars, then try the following routine instead.

Plan a safe and efficient workout.
You don’t want to hit the gym and then waste your time figuring out what moves to do. Go there with a plan in hand. This workout hits all your muscles from head to toe. Plus, it effectively “wakes up” your spine, and saves the heavy moves for later on.

Foam roll and perform a dynamic warmup of standing exercises like jumping jacks, wall slides, and walking high knees.

Perform the following supersets. Do one set of the exercise, and then do one set of the next exercise in the group. For instance, if you see A1 and A2, complete one set of A1, then do one set of A2. Repeat this process until you complete the prescribed number of sets.

A1. Chinup, 5 reps
A2. Standing Split Stance Landmine Press, 8 reps per arm
Do 3 sets.

B1. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row, 10 reps per arm
B2. Dumbbell Goblet Reverse Lunge, 8 reps per arm
Do 3 sets.

C. Trap Bar Deadlift, 5 reps
Do 3 sets.

D1. Side-Lying External Rotation, 8 reps per arm
D2. Cable Core Press, 10 reps per side
Do 3 sets.

Now that you’ve saved your back, let’s talk about food. If you’re one of those guys that gets sick just thinking about food before you exercise, then I hate to tell you that this rule goes for everyone:  Don’t train on an empty stomach.

Food is your body’s fuel. Skipping breakfast means you’ll have no gas in the tank and you’ll exercise on fumes. The result: You won’t be able to go as hard and as long as you could have because your energy levels will be in the crapper.  What was the point of getting up at the break of dawn if you’re just going to have a subpar workout anyway?

So find what grub works best for you and your stomach—a protein shake, oatmeal, eggs, last night’s leftover pork chops. But whatever you do, eat something before you start to sweat.