The Problem with Early Morning Workouts

I think God turns up Earth’s gravity before eight in the morning. I don’t remember workout A being this hard last Saturday when I hit the gym then. It sure seemed harder at five this morning. I guess getting adequate sleep and having a longer “warm up” to the morning makes a difference.

Bench Press
Bench Press

Here’s what I mean. As always, I rested ~60-90 seconds between sets.

Barbell Bench Press 5×5
Warm up at 115 lbs/52.16 kg (the bar plus 2×35)
Working sets at 135lbs/ 61.23 kg (the bar plus 2×35, 2×10)

10x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg

Barbell Bent Over Rows 5 x 5
Warm up at 115 lbs/ 52.16kg (the bar plus 2×35)
Working sets at 135lbs/61.23kb (the bar plus 2×35, 2×10)

10x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg
5x 135lbs/61.23kg

Barbell Hack Squat 5 x 5
Warm up at 135lbs/61.23kg (the bar plus 2×45)
Working sets at 155lbs/70.3kg (the bar plus 2x45s, 2x10s)

8x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg

Chin-Ups 3 sets of 5-8 reps (bodyweight)

4x
4x
4x

triceps extOverhead Cable Triceps Extensions 5 sets 8 reps
Warm up set at 60lbs/27.21kg
Working sets at 85lbs/38.55kg

10x 60lbs/27.21 (warm up)
8x 85lbs/38.55kg
8x 85lbs/38.55kg
8x 75lbs/34.01kg
8x 75lbs/34.01kg
8x 75lbs/34.01kg

If you compared this to the first time I did workout A, you’ll see that it’s pretty much the same with some slight modifications. For one, the triceps extensions seemed more difficult. The warm up set seemed fine, but when I raised the weight to 85 pounds, I was really struggling to do 8 reps. Finally, for the last three sets, I reduced the weight by 10 pounds and I was able to perform the remaining sets at 8 reps each, although I was still feeling “challenged.”

While on the surface, my bench presses were the same, they felt more difficult than they were four days ago. By the last few reps of the last set, I was visualizing anything I could think of to power through, including Lou Ferrigno‘s famous portrayal of the Incredible Hulk. I don’t think I can say I went into “beast mode.” It felt more like “survival mode.”

In fact, all of the lifts seemed heavier for my 5 a.m. gym session than they were when I did the same thing at 8 a.m. I think this means I’m going to have to adjust my expectations regarding progressive overload downward to compensate. That’s disappointing, but it beats an injury (more on that in a minute).

As far as my nemesis, the dreaded chin-ups, I deliberately kept it at 4 reps for each of the 3 sets. I knew I wasn’t going to make the minimum of 5 reps per set, so I reduced the expectation down by one rep and focused on full range of motion and form. As I get stronger and lose more weight, hopefully, I can get better here.

As of this morning, I’m about 195.5lbs/88.677kg (my height is just under 75 inches [6’3″] or 190.5 cm) and that feels like a lot of weight for me to pull up by my arms, even just for 4 reps.

lower back pain
Photo credit: theboxmag.com

On top of all that, I “tweaked” my lower left back during the bent over rows. I did back extensions yesterday on top of deadlifts the day before, so I may have been asking more of my lower back than it is ready to give. Tomorrow, I’m just doing abs and cardio, so hopefully the discomfort will subside before deadlifts on Friday.

My takeaway from today’s workout is that my ambition to get stronger isn’t going to go as quickly as I’d hoped. I’m concerned that next week, when I’m supposed to increase the weight in all my exercises, I’m not going to be successful in doing so, at least for some of the lifts. I suppose that’s not the end of the world, but I don’t want to get stuck in a rut, either.

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.

Ancient Indian Proverb

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2 thoughts on “The Problem with Early Morning Workouts

  1. Starting your workout much earlier than you are used to does have an effect on your prestations in the beginning. I think if you regularly workout that early you will get used to it eventually.
    If you feel pain in your lower back during your exercise I suggest you replace those bent over rows with a back exercise that doesn’t put so much strain on your lower back.
    You did back extensions and the day after bent over rows. So you hit the same muscle (lower back) 2 days in a row. You should try to avoid that because a muscle isn’t recovered in a day, especially if you put a big strain on it.
    Don’t let minor setbacks demotivate you. I think you are doing great and an example for people of your age.

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    1. Yeah. Tell me about it. Guess I got a little carried away. Fortunately, I just did ab work and cardio today, so I gave my back a rest. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be too soon for deadlifts. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Like

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