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I usually do sports only in the afternoon or in the evening, because my body needs several hours to work properly after I get up in the morning. I can perform mental tasks very well in the morning and I am productive at work, but physical workout in the gym is entirely different.

My main problem is that my joints are aching. My normal warm-up routine does not really help. I also do not know how I should handle eating. I usually eat about 2 hours before exercising. That's not possible if I want to start the training really early. An empty stomach does not work for me, because I lack motivation and I feel less energetic. This means I have to eat right before the training, which doesn't feel right either.

Easy way out - just workout in the evening. Unfortunately I decided again to try exercising in the morning before work, because this would help my schedule a lot. How should I prepare for that? Which meals are good to consume right before training in the morning and how should I handle my aching joints? More warm-up? Less weight on the machines and barbells? Your help is appreciated - all my attempts to exercise before work have failed so far.

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What's your normal warm-up routine? What kind of exercises are you doing in your workouts that you need to prepare for? –  Dave Liepmann Sep 28 '11 at 13:26
    
@DaveLiepmann - I usually do 10 to 15 minutes cardio with a heart rate of maybe 120 bpm and follow up with joint rotations. Finally a stretch those muscles that I want to train that day. In addition I do a warm-up set on each machine with very little weight before I start the real sets. This means I do 4 sets on all machines, the first being just to warm up. –  Demento Sep 28 '11 at 13:31
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According to The Circadian Prescription, your current schedule is how your body is naturally tuned. Mental alertness and focus peaks in the morning (your success at work) and muscular strength peaks around 6pm. Working out in the morning is fighting nature... –  Greg Sep 28 '11 at 18:15
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Couple of things really

  • Sleep will effect how good your morning workout will go -or during any time really- depends largely on how good your sleep is. If you are getting poor sleep you will especially feel tired and lethargic in the morning. So get a minimum of 8 hours and make sure most of that is in the night time.

  • Take a hot shower right as you wake up. This will help get you waked up and also I feel helps warm up the joints.

  • Drink a lot of water to hydrate. I also recommend some black tea for the extra caffeine boost.

  • There is a lot you can do for pre-workout nutrition. Either a small snack or a protein shake or even some BCAAs with carbs in them. Experiment with different things.

  • Foam roll, static stretch and do active stretching (mobility)

  • Do a short cardio 4-7 minutes starting with very light intensity building up to ~75%-80% intensity at the end.

..and you should be ready to go!

I don't recommend working out the moment you wake up, instead wait about 40 minutes or so.

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Thomas Kurz, author of Science of Sport Training, recommends something very similar to your warm-up. The order is different, which might make a significant difference despite being a small tweak:L

  1. Joint rotations first
  2. Only 5 minutes cardio next, making sure to do trunk twists and air squats along the way
  3. Arm and leg swings
  4. Sport-specific warm-up. In your case, this is exactly what you're doing: light weight at first, then heavier for the work sets.

If you're consistently aching, consider the idea that you might be overtraining.

The eating part is a separate question.

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As others are saying, it's good to start out with 5 minutes of cardio as a warm up and then stretching. Also make sure you activate the muscles you plan to work out. For example, if you're going to be working your lower body with squats, etc it's good to do some leg lifts beforehand to activate your glutes.

As for what meals to consume right before your morning workout, check out the answers to this question. It asks what to eat right before a workout in general to give you that extra boost, which is certainly applicable here. It's best not to exercise on a full stomach, so I generally do a piece of whole grain toast, peanut butter, and honey. This doesn't weigh you down, but does give you a mixture of complex carbs, a bit of protein, and sugar. The sugar gives you a quick burst of energy, and the complex carbs break down gradually to give you energy throughout your workout. Also, this may be obvious, but be sure to hydrate. It's good to drink one glass of water because it doesn't fill you up too much, but gets some hydration into your system and also helps wake you up.

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