Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:

The 5 Rules Of Morning Workouts

Don’t start your day hating life. Launch yourself out the door and get your blood flowing with these morning workouts!

Mornings are, to put it bluntly, hell for some of us. The sound of the alarm clock violently ringing in our ears rips us out of rest and puts us instantly in a bad mood. Worst of all, we're completely aware of being in a bad mood, but believe we're powerless to stop it. We have to wait until the mood burns off and hope we don't do anything we'll regret later.

It probably shouldn't be this way. After all, the way you wake up in the morning affects the rest of your day—diet and training included. If you start out on the wrong side of the bed, you're more likely to hit up the fridge and dominate that cheesecake you've been saving up for your re-feed, or post ill-advised rants on Facebook, maybe half-ass your grooming, and end up having to cut your gym time because you're running late. A bad morning becomes a bad day.

Although it might feel like a curse, you're not doomed to be either a "morning person" or a morning troll. There is a way you can wake up better, improve your mood, boost your metabolism, prime your body to build muscle and shred fat, and walk out the door feeling energized. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes. And yes, I do accept cash, thank you very much.

On second thought, I'll teach you how to do for free, in the hopes that the world will be a happier and more awesome place. Or at least to decrease the chances that I might have to bear the brunt of your morning misery in the future.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to neural morning primers.

Neural What-ing What-ers?

The concept of a neural morning primer (NMP) is simple. It's a small 5-10 minute circuit-style bodyweight workout that's programmed strategically to wake up your nervous system, get the blood flowing, kick your hormones into overdrive, and introduce a massive amount of oxygen to your body, thereby shooting your brain into productivity mode.

I've been prescribing these for clients for the last five years or so, but I don't claim to have invented them. The concept has many other names and has been used since the dawn of bodybuilding. If you've read Arnold's recent book Total Recall you'll find a couple of pages inside describing his morning routines, along with the other Olympians. John Romaniello has advocated something similar, calling them "neural wakeup calls," and others trainers have used different names. And if you check with the yoga folks, you'll find many who utilize sun salutation routines right after leaving bed.

No matter the name, the benefits are real. Since the NMP is to be performed the second you pull your ass out of bed, you're working out under a fasted state. This, in turn, will spur your human growth hormone secretion and improve your insulin sensitivity.

Also, due to NMP's brevity, intensity, and flexibility demands, they loosen the body and provoke endorphin production (the feel-good chemical in your brain). In other words, you'll walk out the door feeling awesomely awesome, like you're the sexiest piece of meat on the planet.

So how can you build a successful NMP routine? Having tested them on many clients over the years, I've crafted these of guidelines to help you build your perfect routine.

Rule 1 /// It Has to be Performed Immediately Upon Waking Up

This one has to do more with habit than anything. You create the expectation that your body has to perform the second it wakes up. It may resist at first, but with practice it'll fall in line.

I hear you whining. "But seriously: right when I wake up?" Of course you can go pee and drink a glass of water, but that's it. You'll save yourself some spilled coffee and burnt eggs if you start off your day with a quick workout rather than, say, watching cartoons.

Rule 2 /// It Must Have at Least One Explosive Movement

In order to get your blood pumping like crazy, boost muscle building, and elevate your metabolism for the day to come, you need to include at least one sort of explosive exercise in your routine.

Jump squats and lunges are obvious examples, but you could also try explosive push-ups or tornado jumping jacks, where you spin 90-180 degrees during the jump.

Rule 3 /// It Must Have at Least One Static Stretch Movement

The stereotype is that every meathead is stiff as a board, and probably doubly so after staggering out of bed. But as anyone who ever saw Flex Wheeler do the splits can attest, aesthetic people are even more impressive when they're flexible. Like most other things in life, the best way to get better in this respect is to practice it every freaking day.

Examples of such exercises are spiderman lunges with bottom holds (pushing your hips forward), Bulgarian split squats with bottom holds, Hindu push-ups with 3-second holds on top and at the bottom of the movement, and lateral lunges with a hold at the bottom.

Rule 4 /// It Should be Short and Sweet

Remember, your morning workout is something you should want to do every day, and that includes your workout days. You don't want to overdo it and be tired for the remainder of the day, or worse, work out so hard that your gym performance suffers. As a general rule, your morning workout should be under 15 minutes and not loaded with reps.

Rule 5 /// It Should Fit your Aesthetic Goals

If you're a man who wants to target your quads and shoulders, focus your morning routine there. If you're a woman who wants to build your butt and chest, then by all means squat, thrust, and press when you wake up. If you want an impressive set of abs, congratulations—you're human.

If none of those describes you, then fine. Be that way. If that sounds like you, here are the general templates for the routines that my male and female clients have found most effective for their aesthetic goals.

Sample Gentlemen's Morning Routine

    Perform the whole circuit with little to no break between exercises. Perform it once on workout days, and twice on non-workout days. If done twice, rest 20-30 seconds between exercises.

  • Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge

    A1. Unilateral Lower Body Movement w/ 3-second hold

    8-15 reps per leg
    Ex:
    Lunges, Bulgarian split squats, single-leg squats
  • Plank Plank

    A2. Static Core Exercise

    15-30 sec hold
     
    Ex:
    Plank, RKC plank, stomach vacuums, V-sit, 6-inch ab raises
  • Incline Push-Up Incline Push-Up

    A3. Dynamic Upper Body Movement
    (shoulder emphasis)

    8-15 reps
    Ex:
    Incline push-ups, hand walkouts, decline push-ups
  • Side Bridge Side Bridge

    A4. Static Upper Body Exercise
    (shoulder emphasis)

    15-45 second hold
    Ex:
    side planks, push-up position planks
  • Russian Twist Russian Twist

    A5. Dynamic Core Movement

    Maximum reps in 30 seconds
     
    Ex:
    Russian twists, pike-ups, leg raises, bicycle crunches
  • Freehand Jump Squat Freehand Jump Squat

    A6. Explosive Bilateral Lower Body Exercise

    10-15 reps
     
    Ex:
    jump squats, jump lunges, frog leaps, tornado jumping jacks

Sample Ladies' Morning Routine

    Perform the whole circuit with little to no break between exercises. Perform it once on workout days, and twice on non-workout days. If done twice, rest 20-30 seconds between exercises.

  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    A1. Bilateral Lower Body Exercise w/ Static Hold

    8-15 reps
    Ex:
    Full squats with 3-second hold on the bottom
  • Barbell Hip Thrust Barbell Hip Thrust

    A2. Glute/hamstring-focused Movement

    Maximum reps in 20-30 sec
    Ex:
    Hip thrusts, single-leg hip thrusts single-leg deadlifts
  • Bench Dips Bench Dips

    A3. Upper Body Movement

    8-15 reps
    Ex:
    Push-up variations, bench dips
  • Plank Plank

    A4. Static Core Exercise

    15-30 sec hold
     
    Ex:
    Plank, RKC plank, stomach vacuums, V-sit, 6-inch ab raises
  • Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge

    A5. Unilateral Lower Body Exercise

    8-12 reps per leg
    Ex:
    Lunges, Bulgarian split squats, single-leg squats
  • Freehand Jump Squat Freehand Jump Squat

    A6. Explosive Bilateral Lower Body Exercise

    10-15 reps
     
    Ex:
    jump squats, jump lunges, frog leaps, tornado jumping jacks

Bookmark and Share

Related Articles

About The Author

Check out these awesome articles by some of the best writers in the industry.

RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
8.4

Out of 10
Excellent
109 Ratings

88

Comments

Showing 1 - 25 of 88 Comments

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
SadikAfid

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
SadikAfid

Nice Workouts !!

Jun 5, 2013 7:01pm | report
 
PaulGabMih

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
PaulGabMih

Thank you :)

Jun 7, 2013 11:40am | report
BeastlyChange

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
BeastlyChange

Or you can just get yourself to the gym first thing in the AM before you start your day and do your workout. Ever since I made the switch my workouts have been more intense, not to mention my energy throughout the day is sky high. Fasted training with BCAA's is GOAT.

Jun 5, 2013 7:10pm | report
 
CanardLaque

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
CanardLaque

completely agree.

Fasted training is golden

Jun 5, 2013 7:30pm | report
travis132

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
travis132

Agreed, plus going in the morning you avoid all the douche bags that go after they get off work..

Jun 5, 2013 8:33pm | report
shredduck

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
shredduck

and the look that your non lifting friends give you when you're like, "yeah. I get up at 5, go to the gym, then I go to work."

Jun 5, 2013 10:36pm | report
nick.grohall

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
nick.grohall

Agree 100%. I always try to get my workout in right in the morning. Fasted with BCAA's.

Jun 6, 2013 6:37am | report
dailob

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
dailob

i've switched to morning workouts and i've wondered "why didnt i do this before?!"

Jun 6, 2013 8:19am | report
mrlongisland1

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
mrlongisland1

True!

Jun 6, 2013 8:23am | report
BerserkElite

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
BerserkElite

Agreed. Fasting and still Gaining. It also helps that you look forward to the morning so you can hit the gym. BOOYAH.

Jun 6, 2013 9:16am | report
Spoonz25

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Spoonz25

Wish I could go in the morning but I'd have to start my workout at 4:30 and that isn't happening.

Jun 6, 2013 10:56am | report
DustLott

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
DustLott

I workout at 5am. What do you take pre and post workout? Is your post workout also your breakfast?

Jun 6, 2013 11:29am | report
BeastlyChange

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
BeastlyChange

@Spoonz25

Of course, I have days where I have to be in work for 5 so I just lift later. But on most days I do go right after I wake up.

Jun 6, 2013 12:40pm | report
shtypman

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
shtypman

It's no doubt your body approves morning workouts, but please, there's like 1% among pros who does the same way. Ever heard of cortisol?

Jun 6, 2013 3:46pm | report
badgiles

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
badgiles

Wake up 3:30am. A scoop of BSN Hyper fx with water, pack a lunch for work and at the gym by 3:50am! Oh and don't forget the protein shake for after the workout!

Jun 6, 2013 6:59pm | report
frankr670

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
frankr670

I've been going to gym @ 5:30 every morning for about a year and 3 months now just to avoid the "rush hour" after work. And now I wake up before my alarm sounds....but i gotta sleep with my pre-workout though lol

Jun 6, 2013 10:11pm | report
antoniod999

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
antoniod999

i do this too. wake up before class, pre workout, i get my bcaa's in during the workout. protein right after. and my breakfast about 30 minutes later after i drive to class. i pack everything the night before so if i wake up at 530, im out the door by 545.

Jun 7, 2013 8:47am | report
drewmigliazzo

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
drewmigliazzo

Anyone on here wonder what it means by GOAT? I do. My morning workout starts at 5:40 with a preworkout drink of Jack3d CRACK. It gets me out the door by 6:10 and in the gym Mon, Weds, Fri. My double days

Jun 7, 2013 10:41am | report
PaulGabMih

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
PaulGabMih

BCAAs Pre-workout Morning routine Morning Gym = All KINDS of gains.

Think of this routine as an extra to your workouts. The more stress you put on your body (by adding this before your gym session), the more you cause a need for your bioenvironment to adapt. Hence, it's like add-on.

Jun 7, 2013 11:39am | report
PaulGabMih

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
PaulGabMih

Also, thanks to those who enjoyed it.

Jun 7, 2013 11:40am | report
Rizing42

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Rizing42

@drewmigliazzo GOAT means Greatest Of All Time.

and yes I agree. morning workouts are so much better than dealing with ******** in the evening

Jun 10, 2013 2:27am | report
plmcute8402

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
plmcute8402

Love this

Jun 5, 2013 7:53pm | report
 
PaulGabMih

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
PaulGabMih

Thank you :)

Jun 7, 2013 11:36am | report
dreambig1993

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
dreambig1993

I like the article but I wish it would give more tips on how to do it more healthy way, like taking BCAA's or nutrient timing for example. But I did enjoy this!

Jun 5, 2013 8:11pm | report
 
PaulGabMih

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
PaulGabMih

Just grab some BCAA's post workout and you'll be fine.

Jun 7, 2013 11:36am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 88 Comments

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com