Friday, 24 May 2013

Pros and Cons of Morning Workouts: Best time to train

No doubt I am a big fan of my morning workouts before work.  Last year when I was trying to drop weight a college in my office put the idea of going to the gym before work.  I thought it rediculous and far too difficult to keep up. I did it once.

When I walked into work that day I had an all over feeling of righteousness!  I was coming into work fully away, refreshed, and already done more exercise than anyone else in the office.

But could I keep on doing it?  and is there any additional benefits of it?

Well so far I have been doing it for over a year now.  My daily time line is like this

Wake up at 6am
Check youtube and facebook till 6.40am
Drive to the gym and park by 7am
workout till 8.30am
shower and drive to work 9am.
9-5.30 in office working.
5.30 drive home (or go for second workout with Kim)
9pm, head to bed
10pm try and be asleep
10.30, deffo asleep

Ok so what are the Pros/benefits of a Morning workout

1) Gym is quieter

  • Easier to get to equipment
  • music (crappy gym music) usually quieter, so my own music is better
  • No distracting gym douchbags/peacocking meatheads
  • Not likely to skip the gym cos something during the day got in the way
  • Drive to the gym is quieter (faster, less fuel, less frustration with traffic)
  • Changing rooms are quieter, less locker hunting and less lockerroom fancyboys (ie the guys who sit around in the changingrooms longer than they really should)
  • Parking can be cheaper or free (if parking on the street befroe 8.30 - in Edinburgh anyway)
2) Fight Catabolism with some anabolic workout
  • The morning time your body is pumping out a lot of catabolic hormones (break down hormones), to counter this you can either A) Eat - thus spiking insulin and additionally giving the body fuel in an easy form, rather than having to try and get it from stores, ie fat)  B) by doing a heavy workout, high intensity or what not, you produce anabolic hormones and work the muscles so more likely that any negative effects of the catabolic hormones will not affect your precious muscle.
3) Boost Catabolism and burn loads of fat.
  • In the morning you are in a fasted state. If you decide to not eat before you go the the gym you can increase your catabolic hormones which will be hunting your body for energy stores... which usually is in the form of fat.  And combined with the anabolic hormones produced as mentioned above then you can have a double effect of fat burning and muscle saving workout 
4) Boosts metabolism.
  • That is kinda already mentioned above
  • but also
  • Turbo charges your body first thing in the morning, raising your blood pressure, heart rate, and help you squeeze out a poo first thing in the morning can potentially make your body stay in a more elevated physiological state throughout the day.
    Imagine a car having the accelerator slammed at the start of a quarter mile.  It goes up to 100mph then the car coasts to the finish where it then puts on the breaks as it passes the line
    Imagine a second car. at the start line the owner puts it in first and tries to nudge the car off the start line just by working the clutch with the engine at an idol turn over and he slowly reaches 20 miles an-hour then in the last 50 meters of the track he then slams the accelerator and reaches 100mph but then crosses the finish line and slams on the break (the finish line is you going to sleep)

5) Fasted workout is easy.
  • We all like a coffee in the morning, so down one of these then destroy the gym  very little time to be thinking about food or hunger for that matter so doing a good fat burning workout is far less mentally challenging
  • having your digestive system (parasympathetic) in a rest mode - its done all its digesting through the night, means that there will be less energy being used in your stomach when you are working out so that you can force more effort to the skeletal muscles.
  • No intestinal discomfort from having eaten something during the day that may be tough on your tummy.  
6) Really makes you want to go to bed early
  • Studies have shown that 8 hours of sleep is not the same as 8hours of sleep.
    What has been shown is that going to sleep at 12 and waking up at 8am is not as beneficial to your body as going to bed nice and early 9-10 and waking up at 6am.  The greatest burst of Growth hormone is in the first wave of REM and this is shown to be greatly boosted when people sleep earlier than going to bed late.
    A lie-in has far less benefit (physiologically) than an early nights sleep.
  • Additionally, pre workout supplements before an evening gym session could still have large quantities of caffeine floating around your body 4 hours later.  so trying to get to sleep at 10pm after going to the gym at 7 could be difficult.
7) Less Pollution + Less hot
  •  If you are doing any cardio outside, then a morning workout will have far less airborne pollution as generally during the night there are less cars, trucks etc.  Getting fresh air in an evening walk could be far less good for you than previously thought due to the amount of pollution you may be sucking into your lungs.  Running in parks, in the morning, in the wind, in the rain, are better options and especially if you suffer from asthma. 
  • Our body produces a lot of heat when it is working out, working out in hot climates or even just a hot day that you are not used to is far more taxing than in a cooler day (i am not talking cold!)  The morning of a sunny day may be the time when you are able to do your most productive cardio as the temperature will be low compared to the potential sweltering heat of an evening.
8) Superior feeling
  • You feel a bit morally superior, a bit more intelligent, a bit more awesome when you go into work and all the other staff are there shuffling around trying to wake up and you come striding in chugging some ice cold water.
  • It also means that you have done your workout while others are still waking up, and in the evening you can spend your time more constructively either at work or with family and friends and not be a social outcast that insists they cant go to that party cos they cant miss a gym session.
9) Appetite regulation?
  • debatable concept here, that by working out in the morning you somehow can have more control over your appetite during the day.  I am unconvinced that the timing of the workout will have as much control or effect over your hunger and food choices throughout the day as does the type of exercise you are doing.  For example when I was doing the '24 day squat challenge' where i worked up to a max lift every day. very low reps, but heavy weights.  my hunger went through the roof!  but if i do a morning jog or high intensity cardio, I can happily not eat for the rest of the day and be strict with my fast till 5pm.  This may be something which is proven by research but has little real effect in real life situations.

But are there any cons?
Lets look at this.

1) The whole day warm up is missed.
  • If I am going for a Personal best, or a monster session I want to be on top of my game. I mentally start to prepare a full 24hours before hand. This may sound overkill, but if I know I am aiming for a deadlift tomorrow, then today I would start visualising it today. I would also start paying attention closely to how my body feels and which muscles may benefit from an extra bit of foam rolling (or rolling pinning) the night before.  Then on the day I do simple movements that will mimic the exercise later on. Some bodyweight squats (just a couple at a time) if doing squats or deadlifts, or some pressups (no more than 5 at a time) if doing bench etc.  The idea is not to tire-out or fatigue, but just to warm up the movement patterns in my brain and CNS, as well as just get the body use to the stretch i may feel in certain muscles that i will be using.

2) Fasted training
  • If your not used to it then it is going to seem far more difficult, however you can always just scoff a banana or 2 while you are on your way to the gym.
  • If you cant workout without eating, then it may be the case that you would have to wake up earlier, eat as soon as you wake up, so that you have at least an hour and a half for that food to be digested out of the stomach before you go and blast the weights.  This would require getting up even earlier and being very prepared with food.
3) Spinal loading early in the morning
  • This one I need to research some more on as at the moment it is just gym bro advice.
    Seemingly during the night your spine 'hydrates' ie there is a lot of water that is soaked up in the spine as you lie flat on your back.  This seemingly makes it a bit squishy and not so good if doing heavy spinal weight lifting exercise such as, deadlift, OHP, squat etc
    I do know that in the morning you are meant to be a bit taller than you are in the evening, and this extention of the body may make things harder.  Need to find scholarly articles confirming this though.

4) Time restricted

  • You have to go to work.  And work always starts at a certain time.  If you are 10 mins late getting out of the house, or the traffic is busier than usual, or your alarm goes off late, then there is usually no extra time for you to do an extra bit of work in the gym.
5) Low gym energy
  • Sometimes the best workouts are ones when there is a lot of peacocking, a lot of gym douchbags and a lot of loud music blasting everywhere, ie when it is busy in the evening.  Sometimes the fact that you have to wait for a machine or bench builds up your frustration and makes you want to just destroy the reps and sets.
6) Winter mornings suck ass. Warmups not optimal
  • Getting up in the pitch dark, getting out of your bed into a cold room, going out to your car while it is freezing cold, driving along to the gym in the dark…. is not easy
  • There is some research indicating that after waking there is an optimal time zone for strength (usually around 3hours after waking) there are a bunch of ideas behind this. Neural activation, circadian rhythms, hormonal fluctuations and even just the general warm up of your synovial fluid in your joints… guess this is kinda the same as the spinal dehydration thing mentioned earlier.  However that is research science which may have little reflection to real world purposes and have negligible effects compared to the time actually spent warming up (ie treadmill, skipping and foam rolling) and sheer motivation.

7) Shattered for the rest of the day
  • Contentious arguement here, some people feel buzzed after a workout, others want to puke and go to sleep. depending on what kind of workout you are doing you could be either skipping into work or faceplanting into your keyboard at 10.30

In the end, The timing of when you exercise is not as important as the amount of effort, intensity and consistency you put into your training.
Morning training may seem daunting to the un-initiated but like all gym go'ers know, the gym is a habit.  Once you start going in the morning you can develop that habit so that it is not as difficult as you first thought.  Once in the routine, of a morning workout and early to bed, then you can wake up and destroy the gym just as well as you could have done during an evening workout.
My only advice would be to give it a try. If you have never done it before, don't poo-poo it until you have given it a go.  Pack your gym bag the night before, have your coffee and supplements laid out in the kitchen the night before and set your alarm early and put it in another room so you have to get up to turn it off. Go to bed early and get ready for a good workout.  A positive mental attitude will do far more than a sluggish half-ass attempt at anything.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Never Stretch before Running!

Measures of Health

How do we measure health?
Its actually more difficult than you may think.  We can easily measure ill health, disease, viruses, inability to work, pain, etc  but Health is far more than just the lack of ill health.

Here is a quick list of Some Markers of "Health"
2) BMI
3) body fat percentage
4) Cholesterol
5) Blood Pressure
6) Resting Heart rate
7) Energy levels
 Relaxing Sleep (quality not quantity)
9) Aerobic performance (vo2max and lactate thresholds)
10) Digestive function (good pooing ability)
11) Reduction of illness and pain.
12) Sweat v Body oder
13) T-cell count
14) Blood sugar stability
15) mood
16) hair, skin and nails condition
17) Cognitive ability - concentration
18) Appetite
19) Positive Mental attitude
20) Social interaction

Health involves both physical, psycological and sociological factors, of which the the importance of each change with different times and developments in our lives.

Good link