Whether we are trying to gear up for next month’s Judo competition or simply trying to stay as generally fit this year as we did last year, staying in some kind of sustainable routine is a must. You’ve probably heard experts and gurus spout off about how awesome it is to work out in the morning. They insist that you “Start the day off right!!!”
Anybody who knows me is aware that I am absolutely NOT a morning person. I never go to the gym before about 1:30 in the afternoon unless I don’t have a choice. However, with that said, I will lend some credence to what these proponents of first-thing-in-the-morning workouts are saying. That is to say, I believe that it IS a good idea to do SOMETHING shortly after waking up in the morning (or afternoon as some of my days have had it lately). Does that mean you have to do an hour-long P90X routine before you even have breakfast? Absolutely not. But there is evidence to support the notion that opening the curtains to let in some light and getting a little movement and resistance in can help to kick your metabolism into a higher gear.
Personally, I find the morning to be a great time to assess whatever abuse I have inflicted on my body from the day before. After doing some initial recovery from a (hopefully) good night’s sleep, there may be some areas that are a little stiff or achy. Within reason, this is normal. I find I’ve learned to listen to my body well enough to figure out a few light exercises that may help with some of those aches and pains. Now the key is to TAKE YOUR TIME! Morning exercises, in my mind are not for explosive intensity. Think instead of a slow, controlled warm-up for your day. Whether you’re doing some body weight squats, crunches, lunges, push ups, or anything else to get yourself in gear, it would be a good idea to move at around 50-75% of your normal speed. This is a very general guideline, obviously, and the most important thing is that every movement feels comfortable and doesn’t violate the signals your body gives you.
Another thing that I find helpful is thinking about keeping constant tension in the appropriate muscles as you go through a morning routine. What I mean, very simply, is that this is a great opportunity to work on stability. During a squat, slowly lowering and raising your body while mentally focusing on tightening your glutes and abs (don’t worry about sucking your belly button toward your spine so much as just keeping them tight and see how that feels) is a good way to handle this. I will see if I can get a video uploaded soon to better explain what I’m talking about, but the basic point remains. The name of the game is control. While they are good just for kick-starting metabolic activity, my morning exercises also serve as a sort of system check to make sure that everything is functioning properly. It gives me a chance to finish waking up while identifying any problem areas BEFORE I jump on the track to do sprints.
Stretching is a whole other issue that I haven’t tackled here. That was intentional, as I generally do very little (especially when I’m just getting moving in the morning). I’ll be writing a separate post to explain my views on what stretches I feel may or may not be appropriate, and at what times. In the meantime, drop any comments or questions!