There's no workout quite like an early-morning workout.
Sure, the sound of an alarm clock at six-something in the morning can be one of the most disheartening sounds known to our species, and those first few steps out of bed can seem like mammoth efforts – but when it comes to starting the day off in style, and kickstarting our bodies into action, you just can't beat it.
However, training so early does present some problems of its own – namely that it's difficult to get food on board without having to wake up at ridiculous o'clock if we want to give our bodies time to digest, and not feel like we're dragging an unwelcome load around in our stomach.
The trick is to consume things that are easy for our bodies to take in, and pack an energetic punch without being too volumous – so here, to help you kickstart this post-Easter week, are seven simple hacks to make the most of those early-morning sessions without needing to be cooking up a storm in the kitchen before the sun has even come up.
Blitzed oats in water
This is perhaps a little bit grim, but it's very simple – and effective if you’re going to be doing anything that requires a quick release of energy. Blitz some oats in a blender (with a milling blade if possible) and keep beside your bedside alongside some water. Set an alarm for an hour before your workout begins, then mix the oats with the water and knock it back.
At that point, you can either head back to sleep – or get up and do an hour of stretching before you get down to business.
Yeah, I’m heading back to sleep…
Take this as a given – it takes seconds to put together, and it provides your body with everything it needs to ensure effective muscular function and prevent against breakdown. If you need an extra blood sugar boost, have it alongside some coconut water – or indeed mixed with the blitzed oats, as mentioned above.
Chia Seed Pudding
This takes less than ten minutes to prepare, can be whipped up the night before and can be eaten fairly quickly to boot – better still, it's bursting with protein and won't sit heavily in your stomach while you mill your way through a set of plate hops.
The recipe is available here.
Many bodybuilders and gym bunnies swear by their pre-workout coffee – and if you're going to be doing any work that involves a lot of reps (as opposed to, for instance, a lot of weight over a smaller number of reps) then the science would suggest that it will work for you. Speaking from personal experience, a coffee is often all I need before hitting an early-morning met con – however finding somewhere to serve something high-quality at 6.20am can be somewhat tricky.
For a more in-depth look at how coffee can affect different types of workout, read this piece that Rory McInerney wrote for us in February.
Peanut butter and honey on Ryvita
This is like a slightly more fancy version of protein shake with coconut water – a combination of quick-release carbohydrates and protein that also tastes really great and won't make your stomach feel heavy. Ryvita can tend to be quite salty, though, so be sure to hydrate on the way to the gym... and no matter how good they taste, resist the urge to have a third.
Yoghurt and berries
This involves about 30 seconds' work, tastes incredible, and provides you with everything you'll need ahead of a workout – just a small amount should do it, particularly ahead of any activities where you'll be moving around a lot, but give yourself 30 minutes to digest and you'll be fine.
If you're really determined not to get up a minute before you have to, or even to leave your blitzed oats on the side of your bed because that would involve actual preparation, just be sure you've had a good feed the night before.
It's not as effective as having something in the morning – and eating too much may hamper your sleep, which is equally crucial – but it's much better than hitting the gym hungry and wasting an hour of your life on a zero-effectiveness workout.