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Are Your Early Morning Workouts Even Effective?

It’s been a few years since I got up early (like 5:00 am early) to go train. I’m not foreign to it by any means, but it’s been a while to say the least.

With changing schedules and other reasons I decided to get up at 5:00 and be warmed up and ready to go at the gym by 5:30. At 45 years young I was as curious as any to see if I could still get in a decent workout with less sleep, less food in my stomach, and less blood in my extremities.

I can’t help to hearken back to my twenties when I was on some military job barely sleeping, eating like crap, and still killing it at the base gym. No matter what, I now not only have age to deal with, but, more importantly, I have mileage — 30 plus years of training to be frank. So my tires are a bit worn.

What I didn’t do

The one overall thing I didn’t want to do was to overthink anything. Early doesn’t mean that I must eat my usual breakfast, wait for it to properly digest, take supplements, and then go through my normal warm up routine as if it was 2:00 in the afternoon. If I attempted that I would be seeing 3:00 am.

Now, I wake up early anyways, and when I do I am instantly hungry. If I don’t eat within a few minutes of waking I get weak, lightheaded, and a bit cranky.

But things needed to change.

Time was a factor. I had to get home at a certain time to start the day so I couldn’t think about those details. I not only avoided overthinking, I also refused to lament on the fact that I was doing anything out of the ordinary. More on that next.

What I did

I took my usual mindset. I would get up, drink around 12 ounces of water, eat a small breakfast fig bar for some instant energy, drink 1/2 scoop of protein powder, and get after it.

As I mentioned earlier I also didn’t think too much into anything. I practiced what I like to call “sneaking in a workout.” That is, I showed up, trained like I always do without harping on the thought that I haven’t eaten or that I didn’t sleep enough. I “sneaked” my training in without really worrying too much about my circumstances.

And to top it off, I trained legs. So, there’s that…

Was it effective?

In a word, yes. The weights I used were roughly the same (basically I did what I did from my last workout without hitting my head against the wall trying to lift more weight or get more reps).

It’s a ton off your back when you don’t focus on the lack of sleep or prep and just do the dang thing. I do think that mindset had a lot to do with the workout being a success.

I also noticed two important things. One, training early was just another thing to get used to. Over time I could adapt to the new schedule and each day would prove to be more and more effective just like an afternoon workout would be.

Two, it was nice to experience training this early again. I forget how getting training under your belt early gets you into an action mindset. After a shower and my regular breakfast I liked the feeling of getting the workout out of the way and it put me into a productive mood for the rest of the day.

***

I’m writing this before lunch so I ‘m sure I’ll take a 5 minute power nap soon and hit the bed early later, but for now let me know your thoughts about this in the comments below. Are you an early trainer?

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Blog Training Workouts

My Current Complete Workout (Full Program)

I’ve received several messages from those who wanted to see my current workout in full. Thanks for the messages and here you go.

First a couple of points to be made:

  • I train around five or six days per week. I usually go with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
  • Each workout is an hour or less. Any longer and I’m not keeping track of rest periods enough.
  • I’m 45 so my reps are higher these days. This has actually proven to be better for muscle mass, for me at least.
  • Rest periods are kept between 30 (for smaller groups) and 60 seconds (for larger groups). Pay very close attention to this. It’s the special sauce in how all this works.
  • I operate my training on an A and B routine. I have two workouts for each day that I rotate on a regular basis. This keeps it interesting.
  • I’m more interested in putting on muscle and reshaping my body instead of building pure strength. These workouts will still get you stronger, but that’s not the main focus.
  • Abs are trained each day except leg day. 3 or 4 sets of crunches and 3 or 4 sets of leg raises.

Group A

Day 1:

Incline bench barbell press 4 x 10-20
Flat bench dumbbell press 4 x 10-20
Feet inclined push up 3-4 x as many as possible

Cross bench dumbbell pullover 3 x 10-15

Wide-grip pull up 4 x as many as possible
T-bar row 4 x 10-20
Medium-grip pulldown 3-4 x 10-20

Day 2:

Standing dumbbell side lateral raise 4 x 10-20
Bent-over rear lateral raise 4 x 10-20
Front plate raise 3-4 x 10-20
Barbell shrug 3 x 10-15

Single arm cable pressdown 4 x 10-20
Lying triceps extension 4 x 10-20
Incline bench dumbbell curl 4 x 10-20
Barbell curl 4 x 10-20

Day 3:

Standing calf raise 4 x 10-20
Seated calf raise 4 x 10-20

Leg extension 3 x 20
Leg press 3 x 20
Walking lunge 3 lengths
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 10-15
Leg curl 3 x 10-20

Group B

Day 1:

Incline bench dumbbell press 4 x 10-20
Incline Hammer Strength press 4 x 10-20
Floor push up 3 x as many as possible

Cross bench pullover 3 x 10-15

Close-grip pull up 4 x as many as possible
Bent-over barbell row 4 x 10-20
Wide-grip pulldown 3-4 x 10-20

Day 2:

Seated side dumbbell side lateral raise 4 x 10-20
Seated dumbbell shoulder press 4 x 10-20
Cable rear lateral raise 3-4 x 10-20
Dumbbell shrug 3 x 10-20

Overhead rope triceps extension 4 x 10-20
Dumbbell lying extension 4 x 10-20
Standing dumbbell curl 4 x 10-20
Straight bar cable curl 4 x 10-20

Day 3:

Seated calf raise 4 x 10-20
Standing calf raise 4 x 10-20

Leg curl 3 x 10-20
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 10-15
Leg extension 3 x 20
Rear foot elevated Bulgarian split squat 3 x 10-20 each leg
Leg press 3 x 20

***

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Blog Training Workouts

My Current Training Split

I’ve experimented with a lot of splits over the, ahem, decades. I’ve always gone back to just about three that have given me the greatest results. Plus, as a forty-something I have to pay a little more attention to recovery.

Currently, I’m back on an old, reliable standby. I call it my golden era split since many bodybuilders from the 70’s used it. It’s not a “bro split” or anything, but it does split things up just enough for recovery and engagement.

Okay, enough talk. Here you go.

Day 1: Chest, back

Day 2: Shoulders, triceps, biceps

Day 3: Calves, quads, hams

That’s it. Pretty simple. I’m able to train everything over three days and when life gets in the way and I miss a few days it’s easy to make up the time.

I’ll do either three days in a row and then take a day off or train five days per week and just rotate the workouts whichever days they may fall.

***

What’s your favorite split?

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Over 40 Leg Training for More Mass

Check out this knee-friendly, over 40 leg training routine I did the other day. I will warn you, it’s tough and you will be sore, but your knees and back will thank you.

This is solely for building muscle. You will get stronger, but it’s not the main goal. For rest periods go with 30 seconds for everything except for leg press which will require around one minute. Wear a watch to track rest, don’t bring your phone, it’ll only distract you, and stay focused the entire time.

Good luck, Here we go!

Seated calf raise 4 x 10-20
Standing calf raise 4 x 10-20

Seated leg curl 3 x 10-16
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 12

Leg extension 3 x 20
Bulgarian split squat (no weight) 3 x 20 each leg
Leg press 3 x 20

***

This should only take you about 45 minutes, max. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Simple and Quick Dumbbell Arm Workout

Someone recently wrote to me about different training techniques and touched on one I’ve known for a while now and recently revisited. If you’re at all familiar with Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson from the old Ironman Magazine days you’ll know they popularized the POF system. That is the Positions of Flexion training technique.

I remember using POF for many years during my competitive days. I liked the fact that I could organize my training pretty easily around it and I didn’t need a ton of volume to get great results. Let’s break down this oldie but goody technique and then plan out a quick, but very effective arm workout around it.

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Blog Training Workouts

At Home All Dumbbell Workout

At-home full body dumbbell workouts are everywhere, but many are structured for those who just want a quick “get-in-shape” program. I’ve always been a student of muscle. If I’m going to spend time training I want any routine I follow to build muscle, strength, and give me a great pump so I can walk away with a smile on my face and the sense that I really moved the needle.

Following is an all dumbbell workout that addresses everything: all body parts, compound movements, and practices efficiency of effort. That is, it doesn’t waste time and energy on useless exercises, gets straight to the point of training, and will yield the fastest and best results possible.

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Blog Training Workouts

What’s the Best Body Part Split if You’re Over 40?

If you’re like me you love training. Not “get in shape with step class” kind of training, but bodybuilding style training that puts muscle on your frame. (Nothing wrong with step class, just not my cup of tea). I love the pump from blood, I love pushing myself, and I love the discipline. But this love can, and has gotten me into trouble in the past.

Coming back before recovering, doing too much, and training too frequently are just a few of the traps that my love of training has thrown me into. I sometimes get too overzealous and end up over trained and risk injury. I’ve learned from my mistakes (which I’ll never take back) so you don’t have to.

I want to break down body part split training for us dudes over 40. Is it any different? Should some things remain the same? Are you getting all you can out of your split?

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Blog Training Workouts

Intense Home Leg Training for Muscle (No Equipment)

I, like so many others out there, have been experimenting with at-home bodyweight training. And, like so many, I have little-to-nothing to use regarding real training equipment. I have a pack of bands, but that’s about it. I’ve relied on common household stuff to piecemeal my training.

Now I’m a bit of a meathead. I like getting in a good ole fashioned intense workout at the local gym so shifting to at-home training was and is a bit of a change in mindset. I started out experimenting. A lot. I didn’t want to relegate to a “fitness circuit.” I want to build or at least maintain muscle mass.

Instead I see this as a challenge. How do I put together a lower body workout that can, at the very least, maintain my current physique or maybe even improve it?

So I’ve gone into this with an open mind and new possibilities and I think I’m on to something.

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Blog Training Workouts

At-Home Minimal Leg Workout

Let’s wrap up this at-home series with a challenging lower body workout. If you’re like me (40-plus) you’ve taken to a few machines for an effective leg workout. Over the years of heavy squats and leg presses taking their toll, however, I’ve resorted to smarter training. I do think a little at-home training can expose us to interesting and inventive ways to effectively train with what we have.

At-home leg training is particularly tricky without so many machines available in the gym. So let’s get creative. Like the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

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Blog Training Workouts

At-Home Minimal Shoulder and Arm Workout

We continue our at-home minimal workouts with a shoulder and arm day. The chest and back workout was simple and to the point. The trick is to not overthink any of this. If you’re training at home temporarily with the thought of getting back to the gym in a few weeks then these workouts will get you through. They may even shock your body a bit into new strength and growth. You never know really.

Here we’ll be tackling shoulders and arms with very minimal equipment. Mainly stuff you can find around the house and possibly some bands. So let’s get to it!