The Morning Workout

I present to you the solution for all busy people who want to have it all: Social life, working full-time, running errands, quality time with family and making progress with your fitness. It’s simple: Work out in the morning.

Let’s be clear: Getting your ass moving in the morning requires willpower. That is why, up until now, it was never an option for me.

The simple reality is: Training right after coming home from work happened less and less in the last few months for me. The irregularity of my training has made me become a grumpy and miserable person. I needed to stop that for everyone’s sake.

So this left me with the following fix: Get a little bit earlier to bed and get up an hour earlier in the morning.

I’m full aware that this is the most generic advice on fitness you ever got: Work out first thing in the morning. Eat that frog.

You might respond with “Thanks Captain Obvious!” or “I’m not a morning person”.

Listen: I’m also not really a morning person. I just don’t let my natural tendency for sleeping in dictate my life.

Who feels better during their day? The person who hits snooze for 90 minutes until they drag their ass out of bed, hurrying out of the door? Or the one who get’s up as soon as the alarm goes off, takes care of themselves and get’s out the door with a feeling of accomplishment?

The former starts the day in reactive mode, the latter is proactive and grabs life by the balls.

What helped me become proactive and working out in the morning?

  • I already like training. It’s important to me. I’m looking forward to training sessions.
  • I train at home and have all the equipment I need for quality workouts.
  • I immediately had an idea about how I would structure my workouts. If you don’t, this is yet another stumbling block.
  • I was deeply frustrated that my training sessions became less and less frequent.

Here are the specifics about my morning workouts:

7.00: Wake up. Morning pee and make coffee. Have a glass of water. Put on workout clothes and something warm overneath. This is key because most people’s body temperature is lower in the morning. Warming up helps me getting into the groove.
7.15: Start warm-up. Lot’s of easy stuff first like joint circles and easy mobility drills. A few air squats to get the blood pumping. I need about 10-15 minutes. This is quite long for me. I need more time to get going in the morning.
7.30: The actual workout takes me 20-30 minutes. Read below for specifics. I sip my coffee during the workout.
8.00: Shower and get ready for work.
9.00: Arrive at work.

Workout Structure and Routine

Because I carve out about 40 minutes every morning to work out, I have a few opportunities on the table

  • Training 5 times a week means I can keep the workouts shorter
  • I can also work all movement patters and muscle groups more often without frying them to a point of unbearable soreness
  • I can cover all my bases in the mornings and do “fun stuff” like kettlebell complexes or outdoor stuff on the weekends

I categorize movements like this:

  • Upper push: dips, push-up variation, kettlebell press variation
  • Upper pull: pull-up variation, row variation
  • Hinge: deadlift variation, hamstring curls, swings
  • Squat: split squats, squat variation or other quad dominant movements
  • Loaded carries: suitcase, rack, overhead, bottom-up, farmer, etc.
  • Pump work: Isolation exercises like biceps curls, triceps extensions or lateral raises

After trying this for a few weeks, this split seems to work well:

Upper push
Loaded carries or pump work

Upper pull
Loaded carries or pump work

Biceps pump work
Triceps pump work
Shoulders pump work
Loaded Carries

Same as Monday (same movement categories, but maybe different exercises)

Same as Tuesday (same movement categories, but maybe different exercises)

Saturday (not necessarily in the morning)
Kettlebell Complex (15 minutes)

I always pair upper push and hinge or upper pull and squat as a super set. I usually do 3 sets of 6-12 reps. On the last set, I utilize set-extensions methods like rest/pause or drop sets.

The loaded carries give me more time under load and are my main tool for training abs.

For the push/pull/squat/hinge I mostly use compound / multi-joint exercises like dips, pull-ups, hover lunges, and deadlifts. Wednesday is the easiest and shortest day when I only do arms, shoulders and abs. It’s like an active rest day from the “harder” compound days.

On the weekend, I do a full-body, metabolic conditioning workout. This is what last week looked like:

Ring dips
Nordic ham curls
Farmer walks

Overhand pull-ups
Hover lunges
Ring scarecrows

3-way pump work: 1st set with bands, 2nd with rope, 3rd with rings
Biceps curls
Triceps Extensions
Rack walks paired with band lateral raises

Decline push-ups
Kickstand deadlifts
Suitcase carries

Neutral grip scapula pull-up
Bulgarian split squats
Band circle shrugs


Gorilla Complex

10 Gorilla Rows each side
1 Clean
1 Seesaw Press
1 Front Squat
rest 1 minute

8 Gorilla Rows each side
2 Clean
2 Seesaw Press
2 Front Squat
rest 1 minute

6 Gorilla Rows each side
3 Clean
3 Seesaw Press
3 Front Squat
rest 1 minute

and do 3 more rounds now starting at
6-3-3-3 to
8-2-2-2 and
10-1-1-1 in the last round.

This might look complex because of the many different exercise names. But I adhered to the simple priciples above. If you don’t have that many exerices in your training toolbox, super simple can also work:

Glute bridges

Pull-ups / rows
Air squats

Extended mobility session
+ some crawling variations

Repeat Monday

Repeat Tuesday

This should result in even shorter sessions (20-30 minutes including warm-up).

Give this a try!