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Early Morning Cardio – Yes or No?

Are you a fan of early morning cardio, or are you one of those who thinks early morning cardio is the spawn of Satan?

UP trainer doing lunges with a bench

At UP we never try to throw the baby out with the bathwater and think that for some early morning cardio is a good (even great) thing, and for others a really bad idea. As always it is about your goals, your recovery ability, your health, your nutritional status, and your current training regime (and your past and future training too as nothing can be taken in isolation).

We also think, and this is a point that many many personal trainers seem to miss, that it should be about what you enjoy. Some of you will simply love that feeling of getting up early in the morning, getting a head start on the day, and doing some exercise (especially outdoors). Others of you will absolutely hate it.

Listening to your body is usually, if not always, a very smart thing to do. If you’re shattered in the morning and dread getting out of bed then there’s no way that you should be doing some form of early morning cardio. The extra cortisol (a stress hormone that can be both friend and foe – I prefer to think of it as “the energetic hormone”) will no doubt be catabolic to your muscle tissue, mess up your insulin balance, and just leave you more wired and tired than before.

On the flip side, if you bounce out of bed, feel great doing your cardio (by the way if you feel tired even once you’re 10 minutes in then just stop and take a few days to rest – the cortisol that kicks in when exercising should lift you up, if it doesn’t then you’ve been digging too deep) and buzz off that for the rest of the day then who the hell am I to tell you it’s wrong?!

Too many people in the fitness industry get wrapped up in polarised viewpoints. If you are a professional athlete then we can take a dogmatically strict approach to everything that you do, but if you’re a so-called regular person then doing the exercise that you love, in the manner that you enjoy, is going to be infinitely better for both your mind and your body. Better for the latter because you will be so much more likely to stick to your regime, and let me be the first to tell you that 12 months of a consistent early morning cardio programme is more likely to produce a leaner and healthier body than 4 months on, 8 months off of weight training. Sacrilege for me to say that in public I know.

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