Let’s be real here – I am not a morning person. I don’t leap out of bed as soon as my alarm goes off to meditate and drink a green juice, though I know many people do this and they love it. I say, “that’s just not me!”. They say, “you can train yourself to do it!” But you know what? I like my sleep, I like my bed, and I’m perfectly OK that the extra hour in bed means sacrificing seeing the sun come up.
However, sometimes a girl has gotta do what she’s gotta do – sometimes I’ll have a busy day of meetings or travel (or sometimes I’ll have to be on a Navy boat to train at 6am, like in the above photo!), so the only way I can get my workout in is going first thing in the morning. Gulp. This is only going to increase in the run-up to my first individual CrossFit competition as I ramp up my training and look to get two sessions in some days.
Waitrose Weekend asked me to write a little about training in the morning – yes, I had a couple of bemused messages off friends when they heard this – but hear me out. As it’s not a habit for me, and as I’m definitely not a morning person, it makes it so much harder for me to get up and get my session done. But when I do it I do it well, so read on to find out my tips for getting to the gym first thing in the morning.
I start out by getting everything I need ready the night before – I pack my work bag and lay my training kit out in a way it’d be simple for my 6am brain to understand. In fact, I pack my stuff so it actually makes it harder for me to not train the next morning! By far the hardest part of morning training is actually getting out of bed, so before bed I set the Step Out Of Bed! alarm app, which is really loud and obnoxious, but doesn’t let you stop it until you’ve done between 10 and 30 steps.
If you’re not used to training first thing, it might be tempting to eat your usual breakfast or maybe forego altogether. I think early morning fueling is a very personal thing – I tend to just drink coffee or pre-workout then wait to have a full breakfast straight after training. You might find a banana or piece of toast is better for you, or you could even get up super early to eat porridge and go back to bed while it settles. I think we’ve established that’s something I’ll never do, but it could work well for you!
I hate feeling cold, so another barrier for me is the worry that I’ll get chilly going out into the morning frost. I’d love to say that won’t be an issue as spring approaches, but we all know just how cold CrossFit boxes can be at any time of the year. I address this by layering up well, and ensuring one of my layers is a lighter gym cover-up. By the time I’ve drunk my pre-workout and I’m in the gym, it doesn’t feel like it’s first thing in the morning anymore anyway, so the cover-up is off quickly during the class warm-up.
CrossFit can be extremely demanding on the body, so I try to remember to be kind to myself when training first thing – maybe I’ll hit a lower weight than I expected, or tire more quickly during a workout. One morning I struggled to get as many reps of handstand pushups out as I would’ve liked, but it was probably because energy stores were low after using up all my fuel overnight. Although CrossFit will always be a good workout, I tend to take it a little easier first thing compared to an evening class, when my energy stores will be full from the day’s food.
Back at my desk, I eat a well-balanced breakfast straight away, containing fats and proteins to repair, and carbs to refuel my muscles – making sure I’m ready for my next training session, whether that be morning or evening!
Do you train early in the morning? What are your tips for somebody just starting out exercising first thing, or for someone who has to do it occasionally?
Welcome to That Squat Bot! I'm Sarah, a Personal Trainer based in Manchester, UK.
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