My day begins at 3:54 a.m. While rest of the city is still sleeping, I rise for morning conditioning.

I choose to start strong every day so I can finish stronger and more healthy than the day before.



I am a busy professional and don't have time to waste. The routines I prefer for morning conditioning include interval and bodyweight training.

Each can be performed anywhere, without any equipment. Intervals give me the best bang for my buck, so to speak.

In a few minutes of intense activity my energy expenditure soars!

Daybreak Conditioning Benefits

Conditioning is vital no matter when you do it. But, by starting at daybreak with heart-racing sprints, battle ropes, box jumps, and kettlebell swings, I stoke the fires in my metabolism for the remainder of the day.

This is huge for people looking to lose weight. Couple early intensity with heavy lifting in the evening and you set yourself up for some incredible rest when your body is naturally on the mend—during sleep.

Consider this: What do you do all night? Sleep, I hope! Your metabolism—at rest in sleep—is at its slowest first thing after waking. When you knock the early bird from its nest, you force your metabolism to fly. This begins an increased overall calorie burn throughout your day1.

Morning exercisers are more likely to stick to a consistent exercise plan5. Even people with the best intentions create excuses and run into roadblocks throughout the day. But if you have 10 minutes, you can improve your conditioning.



Start Strong AM conditioning routines

Routine 1 When a treadmill is not just a treadmill

If you don't have a treadmill at home and can't make it to the gym in the morning, try these routines on a walking trail or in your neighborhood. Ideally, you'd perform this one-hour treadmill torture in one session, but if your time is scant, break it up. Do what you can in the time you have.

A.M. Conditioning
1
Jogging-Treadmill
1 set, 5 mins (at 6.5 mph and 3.0 incline)
1 set, 20 mins
2
High Knees
1 set, 60 sec
3
Walking, Treadmill
1 set, 60 sec
4
Walking, Treadmill
1 set, 20 mins (at 3.5 mph and 11.0 incline)
5
Bodyweight Squat
1 set, 10 reps
6
Side to Side Box Shuffle
1 set, 20 sec
7
Bodyweight Squat
1 set, 10 reps
8
Walking, Treadmill
1 set, 60 sec
1 set, 10 mins (at 8.0 mph and 3.5 incline)
9
Running, Treadmill
1 set, 60 sec
10
Walking, Treadmill
1 set, 60 sec
1 set, 5 mins (cool-down walk at your own pace)

Routine 2 No-place-like-home circuits

You don't need a fancy gym membership! You can do these circuits at home or in your hotel room. If you have access to a staircase, you're set. You can also use a chair/couch/ottoman for your stepping block or box.

Circuit
1
Circuit
perform 6 rounds
Pullups
6 sets, 15 reps
Hanging Leg Raise
6 sets, 20 reps
Pushups
6 sets, 15 reps
Step-up with Knee Raise
6 sets, 20 reps
Box Jump (Multiple Response)
6 sets, 20 reps
2
Circuit
Perform 6 rounds
High Knees
6 sets, 20 reps
Push-Ups With Feet Elevated
6 sets, 10 reps
Box Jump (Multiple Response)
6 sets, 20 reps
Reverse Crunch
6 sets, 30 reps
Wind Sprints
Perform on stairs if possible
6 sets, 3 reps
Side Bridge
6 sets, 30 reps

Routine 3 Battle ropes

I don't know what it is about the ropes, but I feel like I could battle them for days! I focus on work and rest methods.

Battle Ropes Workout
20 minutes total: 30 seconds battle ropes (max effort), 30 seconds rest
1
Battling Ropes
20 sets, 30 sec

Routine 4 Sprint Block

Do you want the muscular legs of a sprinter or the wiry twigs of a marathon runner? Big, thick, beautiful legs come from intense sprinting. Get to a local school or park and do this while you have the run of the place.

This routine makes you change planes of movement: flat ground, drop the hips for a lunge, and lift them to sprint the bleachers.

Sprint Block
1
Wind Sprints
Perform on stairs, bleachers, or stair-stepper if possible
8 sets, 100 m
2
Bodyweight Lunge
10 sets, 50 m
3
Wind Sprints
Touch every step; up and down counts as one; each set is 3 times up and down
3 sets, 10 reps

Routine 5 Full-body functional circuit

Turn down? For what! Get up and get moving. This circuit engages the entire body. If you don't have a kettlebell, improvise; find something to lift. A set of medicine balls with handles will do nicely.

Full-Body Functional Circuit
1
Circuit
Perform 6 rounds
One-Arm Kettlebell Snatch
6 sets, 10 reps
High Knees
6 sets, 20 reps
Push-Ups With Feet Elevated
Stay in plank position after your push-up and bring opposite knee to opposite elbow.
6 sets, 15 reps (per side)
Wind Sprints
Perform on stairs if possible. Every step going down, skip steps going up.
6 sets, 3 reps
Jackknife Sit-Up
Use medicine ball
6 sets, 30 reps

Routine 6 Lunch 'n' Sprint

If you're not a morning person, are short on time, or just forget to get started first thing in the morning, that's OK! Still, you want to get your metabolism moving before your evening lifting session. Try these sprints after you drop off the kids, during your first 15-minute break, or over lunch.



In a pinch, use any of the in-home or bodyweight circuits above. Adjust to fit your time crunch and equipment available to you in the workplace, at school, or on the go. Look around for an apparatus (like a sturdy stool) you can use.

Lunch N Sprint
1
Wind Sprints
Perform on bleachers
1 set, 30 reps
2
Wind Sprints
Perform sprints on curves
8 sets, 100 m
3
Wind Sprints
Perform sprints on bleachers
3 sets, 10 reps
4
Bodyweight Lunge
2 sets, 100 m

Finish Stronger Evening Weight Training

You've had all day to prime your body for a successful evening weight-training session. Your muscles are warm and you've likely eaten a few decent muscle-fueling meals to supply the energy required to hit the weights.

The evening is the optimal time to build muscle. Your morning conditioning will prepare you for the hard work in the weight room. They make a beautiful pair. If you start strong, you will finish stronger!

References
  1. "Running in the Morning & Lifting in the Evenings." Andrea Cespedes. AZCentral.
  2. Bowen, R. "Physiological Effects of Growth Hormone." Colorado State University. Dec. 24, 2006.
  3. Cruise, Jorge. 8 Minutes in the Morning for Real Shapes, Real Sizes. St. Martin's Press, 2003, p 74.
  4. Effect of Training Time of Day on Body Composition, Muscular Strength and Endurance; National Strength and Conditioning Association 2005 Annual Meeting, Timothy Scheett, Ph.D.
  5. Sediak, M, et al. "Effect of time-of-day-specific strength training on serum hormone concentrations and isometric strength in men." Chronobiol Int. 2007;24(6):1159-77.
  6. "Best Time To Hit The Gym." Allison Van Dusen. Forbes. Feb 26, 2007.
  7. "Should I Lift Weights or Do Cardio in the Morning." Craig Smith. Livestrong.com. Jan 30, 2014.

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