Making the Switch to Morning Training

In the two years I’ve been CrossFitting, I’ve done everything from religiously attending the 6:00am classes, to multi-session Ben Bergeron programming in the middle of my day, to powerlifting in the evenings. No set routine has lasted longer than a few months, because I’m 24 and life moves fast and what can you do.

It’s been all over the place – and it’s all been great.

A few factors have changed recently, though, as they have a tendency to do. That means my training is changing, too.

 

Change #1

I started working a full-time, real-life, 8:00-4:30 type of job. On the upside, I feel like I’ve found my career and I love my work.

On the downside, I spend less time in the gym. I’m there after work for an hour to an hour and a half, and I generally only do one two-a-day per week.

Luckily, this doesn’t seem to have affected my progression very much. I’ve PR’d, competed, and finally figured out butterfly pull-ups. So, no big deal.

 

Change #2

Because of those PRs, competitions, and pull-ups, I’ve also narrowed in on what I need to work on. Powerlifting has helped hugely in terms of my overall strength. Now, it’s time to get back to technique, upper-body strength, and gymnastics stuff. Sticking to Competitor Training (can you say #BuiltByBergeron?) is the best move for me right now.

If it’s good enough for Katrin, it’s good enough for me. Rules to live by.

 

Change #3

A few months ago, the gym I’ve been going to since I started training changed ownership. It’s now focused primarily on Olympic lifting, which means there’s a lot more people and a very different feel.

As a result, I’m switching my training to 6:00am across the board. It’s quieter in the morning, I know all the regulars, and I’ll have space to do my thing.

Still, switching to morning training is already taking a physical toll. I am noticeably weaker in the morning, and my energy levels are significantly lower. While I remember training fasted with no issues when I started, I now find myself getting hungry before I’m done my warmup.

I’m in a trial and error phase at the moment. Failing lifts at 75% is no fun, so obviously I need a new approach.

 

How I’ll Keep From Dying

To figure out how to make my morning sessions as effective as possible, I made a list of all the important things that go along with training. Yes, I love lists. Yes, I am a nerd.

 

Nutrition

Obviously, this is a big one. Weight training while fasted isn’t recommended, especially since I’m not trying to lose weight (if anything, fasted training can contribute to muscle breakdown). While the jury’s out on whether protein is a beneficial pre-workout, getting some simple carbohydrates into your system before a session is a good idea. Food with a low glycemic index - like fruit, juice, cereal, etc. - digests quickly. That means your body can access those carbohydrates and easily use them as fuel.

Like most people, I can’t stomach a full meal right when I wake up and go to train. I’m currently experimenting with mixing about a cup of iced coffee (hello caffeine), two cups of coconut water (which rehydrates the body and provides simple carbohydrates), and a half-scoop of protein powder (because I’m secretly a bro and want a little protein always).

 

Sleep

 If I’m training at 6:00am, I’m up by around 5:15am. Sleep is a crucial component to safe and efficient training, which means I need to commit to being in bed by around 9:30pm. I’m a notoriously light and difficult sleeper, so I’m also committing to turning my phone off by 8:00pm and taking Rescue Remedy as needed.

Since I’m secretly 90 years old, I was already going to bed around 10 and waking up by 6. Hopefully, this won’t be a drastic change.

 

Warming up

I’m so bad about warming up - I love to just jump into whatever training I have to do that day. Our bodies are stiffer and colder after sleeping for eight hours, though - that means we’re also more prone to injury. I need to spend more time properly mobilizing and warming up before I get into my lifts. Ugh.

 

Flexibility

No, not in the Russian gymnast sense of the word. Since I’ll be training in the morning before work, I need to be both time-efficient and forgiving to myself if I have to change things up. Today, for example, I modified the RX weight in the programming so I could complete the necessary reps before having to rush home and change.

Is that ideal? No. Is the world going to end? Also no.

One day, I’ll have all the time in the world to kill myself with relatively heavy deadlifts in unbroken sets of 20 (THANKS BEN BERGERON). Until then, I need to be okay with doing as much as I can do, when I can.

Sure, I saw the switch in training to mornings as a bump in the road. I wasn’t particularly excited about it. But instead of being cranky, I decided to take this as an opportunity to reevaluate where I can dial in my attention.

So. Food, sleep, warm ups, mental game on point. Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself about the basics. Now, all that’s left is the execution.

Wish me luck.