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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 21 September, 2017
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Rise and shine! Healthy habits for the early morning

Personal trainer David Last on how to start the day right.

EARLY MORNINGS GENERALLY start at 5am for me.

To be honest I wasn’t always a morning person but you really do get used to it with time working in the fitness industry.

clock Source: Shutterstock/fasphotographic

Over the past few weeks it’s nice to see the brighter mornings creep in and the sun starting to peak its head through around the 6am mark. The roads are becoming a little more active at that time of the day and the dark wintry mornings seem a thing of the past for the time being.

For most gyms and personal trainers the morning sessions generally can be the busiest time of the day, and I feel that if you can squeeze some form of exercise into your morning routine then you’re off to a great start to the day.

The toughest part is of course getting out of bed but once you’re out and moving it’s really not that bad at all.

Last Monday I decided to change the gym routine up a little and went for an early morning swim with two of my clients who are preparing for their triathlon season ahead.

We decided to head to Greystones and went in for a dip at the famous ‘Cove’ beach. We ended up coming across The Happy Pear brothers/staff and was great to get a dip in with those guys. It made it that bit more enjoyable jumping into a freezing Irish sea.

Having a early morning routine to me is key.

Below are some things I have brought into my daily routine along with encouraging some of my own clients into as well over the past year, and they have really paid off towards our health and fitness goals.

Sure, we all don’t have lots of time first thing in the morning. However if it means something to you then you will make time for what’s important to you. I generally won’t get through everything here first thing in the morning but if I can get at least 2 in every morning, you are doing well.

10 mins of yoga, meditation, or gratitude

To me, Yoga is a fantastic thing we should really all at least try.

shutterstock_126464135 Source: Shutterstock/De Visu

A couple of years ago, I would have been one of the first people to brush it to the side but since bringing some basic yoga moves into my session it really has helped my lower back pain, my mindset and generally always feels good to start the day with some basic yoga poses and really is good to slow down and listen to the body every now and then.

Meditation is something that I practice every now and then once I can get into the right frame of mind. It does work for certain people but you do need to find that time and place for it to work. I use the quote “slow down to speed up” a lot and this is really an area you might be able to bring that focus to.

Fitness to me isn’t just about lifting weights, going to the gym, eating your broccoli or going out for a run; your mental fitness is just as important as your physical well-being.

There are many different ways you can improve your mindset and mental fitness, such as meditation or simply getting outside into the fresh air. The Headspace app is a digital service that provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training. Its content can be accessed online, or via their mobile app.

Practicing gratitude is another thing I would do as often as possible. I find that working on gratitude and appreciation is another protocol I would also encourage.

Start your day with listing three things that you are grateful to have in your life. Being grateful for your health, your fitness, your previous sporting accomplishments, the people around you motivating and encouraging you to the food on your plate, is something I believe is also great for your body and mind

15 mins of body maintenance

stretch Source: Shutterstock/ESB Professional

Feeling tight, stiff and sore is part of training but at the same time you shouldn’t really rate how well your training session or program is on how sore you are the next day.

To keep on top of your training plan I recommend people do at least 15 minutes of daily body maintenance. This is going to help you recover better, help you train without tightness a bit more, decrease the chance of picking up an injury and overall just be a good benefit to your day.

A basic 15-minute flow of drills or yoga will really help you out. Doing light active recovery like an easy walk or even having an Epsom salts hot bath can help.

Source: David Last/YouTube

Plan your week/day ahead/Journaling

I have used this five-minute journal in the past and it has really helped me focus more and keep me on track. Keeping a journal like this is great as it will hold you accountable to your goals, keep you motivated and will be a good checklist on what went right and wrong for you on the day so you can keep getting better. I now have a very basic journal and I fill it up with daily quotes like above to keep me motivated and inspired.

Read, watch or listen to something motivating for 5 minutes

Most mornings I will try and start my day as positive as possible and another angle I have found useful is by listening, watching or even reading something positive and motivating to get me going. I use anything and everything from Youtube, bloggers/writers even down to one or two of my favorite quotes from certain books to get the head in the right frame of mind.

Movement/Exercise

Most mornings I am working with my first client from 5.30am so getting some of my own exercise (45-60 mins) in won’t happen until a later part of the day. I generally will get the body maintenance/mobility work in at least. I feel starting your day with exercise is extremely beneficial in many ways and can only set you up right for the day ahead.

shutterstock_238825903 Source: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

Some benefits of an early morning session

  • Increase fat burn
  • Brain boosting/increased daily energy
  • Rev up metabolism
  • Can lead to better work quality and focus for remainder of day
  • Improves body clock and daily function pattern

If you are struggling to stomach some food prior to a early morning session this is what i recommend:

  • At least eight hours sleep prior to session — if not don’t waste your time heading for a workout. Sleep deprivation can lead to many negatives and is something that is only going to halt your progress. I rate sleep/stress levels/mental health/sex drive/hormonal balance the foundation of lifestyle and exercise.
  • Aim to drink a glass of water/eat a handful of nuts or berries upon waking, then hit the early morning gym session. Following that, have a good breakfast after training. Post workout, a good amount of carbs and protein for breakfast is ideal. Performance and body composition can be greatly improved with proper pre and post-workout nutrition.
  • Generally I would stay away from pre-workout supplements which typically contain a cocktail of artificial stimulants. A very simple coffee works well for me. I am a big coffee fan and generally will have 1-2 a day. Anything over that, I generally go a little wonky and doesn’t really agree with me.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a message from the links below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

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