At 11:44am as I write this, I’m just eating breakfast. Across the country, millions of college students, exhausted from the final push, are eating at the same time. It’s likely that they rolled out of bed, opened some pop tarts, and wished they slept later. What’s the reason that I’m eating so late? Well, I forgot to make breakfast.
I love breakfast, and I love eating. How the hell did I forget?! Well, quite simply, I was busy. See, after waking up just after 8am, I wanted to get my learn on. I decided to check my YouTube subscriptions page, and see if any of the channels I follow added new content in the dark of night. I saw a few new clips, and thanks to the ‘Watch Later’ feature, I spent the past 3 hours watching clips from the Titleist Performance Institute, Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, Paul Chek, Doug Balzarini, Ben Bruno, and Joe Hashey. They have great videos that include exercise ideas, coaching tips, and exercise physiology knowledge bombs.
It wasn’t until my mom came upstairs and asked me if I was feeling alright that I thought, “Hey, maybe I should go eat something!” On the way downstairs, I had a storm cloud of ideas run through my head, and quickly jotted them down on a pad. One of my thoughts was about a Morning Routine, which is slightly ironic because I blew my morning today. That’s alright, because I’ll share with you what I’m thinking. But first, Good Morning Vietnam!
Now, everyone has a morning routine, but they tend to be pretty crappy, right? The blaring alarm wakes you up, you didn’t get enough sleep, you stumble around as you make your way to the bathroom, and stub your toe on the way. Not the best way to start every day. A number of different blogs mention the idea of a ‘Neural Wake Up’ and credit John Romaniello with the idea. (Google search results HERE.) It sounded interesting, so I headed over to Roman’s website to check out what exactly he meant. This is from one of his more recent posts, called “Perfect Day“:
8:00AM – I perform my “neural wake up call.”
This is a series of very light body weight exercises. I do this in order to raise my metabolism, wake my body up, and stretch out some of the kinks. I’ll do push-ups, Bulgarian split squats, overhead reaches, spider-man lunges. I’ll hold these exercises in the stretched position for about 1-2 seconds, allowing for a deep stretch. Just 1-2 sets of 10 reps or so. Takes 15 minutes, gets the blood flowing, and gets me burning extra calories early in the day.This is something I program for roughly 90% of my online clients, by the way. Of course, which exercises they do (and how much) varies greatly, but in general there is no drawback to this and lots of benefit. I think everyone should do it.
Makes sense, huh? I’ve considered the idea, and have thoughts on how I can incorporate it into my own little morning routine. If I count this morning, I have a 5 day summer break, at least until August. Monday morning starts my first summer session, of 10 credits; 4 for Anatomy & Physiology II, 3 for Dynamics of Substance Abuse, and 3 for Health Promotion for Children and Adolescents. That makes taking 3 credits of Exercise Physiology during summer 2 look easy! While I’m anticipating a rough month due to the workload I’ll have, I’m actually more concerned with the schedule I’ll be facing: A&P is from 8am-12pm Monday to Thursday, and the other two classes alternate 4:15pm-7pm. That awkward timing will make it hard to plan my normal workouts, and I’ll end up lifting at school, at least when I’m not studying. I’m anticipating having to cut down on things while I’m focusing on my work, and balancing teaching drum lessons and training clients at the same time. So how am I going to keep exercising?!
Well, after reading about Roman’s idea of a Neural Wake Up, I think it’s something that can certainly help me along with my goals while balancing out all of my work. Even if I have to cut my strength training workouts short, it will give me enough dedicated movement to prevent me from sucking after a month of summer classes. If I plan things along the way that Roman has, what am I going to do? Let’s take a look:
6:00am – Wake Up
I usually plan to wake up two hours before class starts during regular semesters, and I’m going to treat this summer the same way. Comfortably traveling from my door to a desk is going to take about 40 minutes, so I’ll have an hour and twenty to get ready. A reader sent me information on a cool smartphone app that wakes you up within a given time frame, based on your lightest period of sleep. It helps minimize the stress of a blaring alarm clock. The one mentioned in THIS article is for the iPhone, but I’ve already checked the Android market and they are available there as well.
I’m going to follow in Roman’s footsteps and down a glass of water right after I wake up. He, along with a host of other writers, recommend it, and it’s pretty logical. Water is good for you? Drink it.
6:05am – Neural Wake Up
I’ve considered a few possibilities for this, including exercising right in my room, and using my TRX. I love my TRX, but I’m a little nervous that the door anchor is stronger than the door frame, so I’ll probably head down to my basement to use it. While I’m going to experiment wit a slightly different format each day, it’s going to include some multiplanar exercises for the upper and lower body, to stretch out my muscles and fascia and make sure my brain is in the ‘On’ position.
Below I’ve included two examples of lower body exercises that can be used as part of a neural wake up OR as a warm up in the gym. One of the examples uses the TRX, and the other one requires only body weight.
I’m going to experiment with different exercises so I can see which combinations give me the best
kick in the ass boost in the morning. For the sake of time efficiency, let’s say I perform 3 sets of a 10 exercise circuit, and that lasts me 15 minutes.
6:20am – Breakfast Shake
Real food is great, but a shake would work perfectly in the morning. A few minutes is all it takes to fill your body with protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fat, and I can drink it on my way upstairs to hop in the shower. I’ll probably use my favorite walnut/spinach/blueberry/greek yogurt combination, but there are infinite options that you can come up with if you’re creative.
6:25am – Shower, insert male grooming habits here.
I don’t think I need to explain anything about the shower, except I’ll either be beatboxing or humming along to Frank Sinatra tunes I’ve recently heard on Pandora.
I haven’t really considered what would take place during this time frame, but it would probably involve me putting in my contacts, putting on deodorant, doing my hair, and getting dressed. Then I’ll brush my teeth. I just realized how awesome it is do not have to worry about blowdrying, or straightening, or curling my hair. Yes!
6:50am – Food Prep
I’ll spend some time preparing food for the day, and since it looks like I’m going to be out of the house for 12 hours each day, this is going to involve lots of food. I’ll snag some Greek Yogurts, microwave some chicken and broccoli, take some of my mom’s left over chili, and pack them all in to a cooler. On the way to school I’ll eat Greek Yogurt and have my V8, and I like eating every 2-3 hours so I’m assuming I’ll need to bring 4-5 meals to keep me fueled while I’m out of the house.
Now, to speed through some portions of the day, I’ll leave for school at 7:20am, and sit in class from 8:00am – 12:oopm. After class, I’ll either do homework, workout, or do homework, and then class resumes from 4:15pm-7:00pm. I deliberately left out any information on how I’m going to plan my workouts, because I have no idea. The next two weeks are going to be time for some experimentation, and then I’ll be heading to Rhode Island for the Perform Better Functional Training Summit. I’ll wait for any ideas I may pick up while I’m there before I go ahead and decide on anything that I should definitely be doing.
After class finishes at 7:00pm, I’ll either have drum lessons to teach or clients to train. It will certainly make for busy days, and I’ll be exhausted by the time I’m back at home, but I’m glad that I’m doing so many things that I love. Even with a busy schedule, I can still fit everything in. This schedule represents my Monday through Thursday, and I’ll definitely have more time to kill on the weekends. The first weekend I’ll spend in Rhode Island, and the second one I’ll head to central Pennsylvania for my second Warrior Dash. Planning my training around the next few weeks is going to be difficult, but between strength training sessions spaced 4 times through out the week and these Neural Wake Ups that I’m planning for, I’m going to thrive.
If you’re pressed for time to complete a ‘full length’ workout, or you’d like an extra boost to kickstart your metabolism and and your day, try creating your own morning routine. If you wake up and perform a quick 10-15 minute workout using full body compound exercises, you should feel better and look better as it becomes part of your regular habit. If anyone has been trying this, or is interested in adding it to their own routine, let me know!
Until then, I’m going to take care of the rest of the things on my to-do list; I have lots of projects to take care of!