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Seven Secrets For Early Morning Workouts

I’ve been there before. Work is insane and you’re schedule is spiraling out of control. No longer is your 6 p.m. workout feasible, there’s too much too going on. Heck, even when you leave for the gym your phone rings.

And rings. And rings.

You grab your bag, slide your shoes on, and head back for another meeting and another “emergency” that’s taking precedent over your health and wellness.

There’s no choice—you need to train in the morning.

Training before sunrise is never ideal. You’re tired, stiff, and trying to comprehend the hieroglyphic numbers on your digital clock.


early morning
Rise and Grind!

But we don’t live in a perfect world—if you don’t train first thing in the morning you’ll never get it done. As an early riser these seven tips have helped me make the transition to morning workouts.

1.)  Get Up ASAP

If you hit snooze you’re as good as done. Get up and get on your feet immediately. The longer you delay getting up the more difficult the workout will be.

Bonus: If you get up before you alarm and it’s within 30 minutes suck it up and get going. You’ll be drowsy if you wait.

2.)  Warm Water+ Black Coffee

One the fastest ways to wake up your body is hydration.The other? Caffeine!

Sleep leaves us six to eight hours without water consumption, putting the body into a mild state of dehydration. Dehydration is detrimental to training with high quality workouts, so it’s it’s imperative to rehydrate rapidly. I opt for warm water because it’s easier to drink and will boosts your internal temperature. After 20-40 ounces of water it’s time to ramp things up with coffee– hold the creamer. You’ll never need  to drop $40 on a fancy pre-workout drink, coffee is the go-to.


Coffee is key for early morning workouts
Coffee: The only pre-workout you need

3.)  Stand-Up

Getting up and moving is vital to working out in the A.M.  During sleep the spine decompresses, allowing the intervertebral disks to collect water, increasing stiffness in the spine.

And it’s not a good thing.

Standing up and moving will disperse the over-hydration and stiffness of the spine, allowing the spine to move more effectively and safely during training. Be up for an hour before spinal loading and warm-up thoroughly.

Bonus: If you’re workout includes squats and/or deadlifts consider performing a few exercises before at low intensity. Stability ball hamstring curls are a good option.

4.) Wear Layers

Maybe it’s the result of  living in Wisconsin and Colorado for last 20 years, but wearing layers ais essential to your warm-up.  After sleeping you’re muscles and joints are stiff and tight—not ideal for a workout. Added layers before your workout will increase core and ligament temperature to speed up your warm-up and improve workout quality.

Bonus: If you’re driving to the gym crank on the heat. I do this all times of the year for early morning workouts.

5.) Feast at night

If you’re able to feast at 4am more power to you, but most don’t do well with a full-belly during an intense workout. Instead, eat a big meal at night. Your carbohydrate stores won’t disappear while you sleep, they’ll be waiting for you in the morning.

A morning shake is doable for most, but keep it light.

Here’s my latest Creation:

6.) Go to Sleep Earlier

No brainer—right?

If you’re getting up an hour or two early you need to adjust your sleep patterns. You might get away with less than six hours/night for a few days, but doing so consistently will yield bad training sessions and poor recovery. Get at least six hours and adjust your schedule as needed.

Bonus: Struggling with sleep? Hack your Sleep here.

7.) Extended Warm-Up

Later in the day I dedicate 10-12 minutes to a solid dynamic warm-up, but morning requires a bit more time. Opt for 12-15 minutes of dynamic drills and movement prep early in the day. An extra 2-5 minutes isn’t much too ask for and it’s better than six weeks of bird-dogs, manual therapy, and a rickety low-back.

Wrap Up

Pre-dawn workouts are tough, but implementing these tips will get you training consistently regardless of your schedule. Get up early and take control by “doing you” first; you’ll set positive tone and seize the day.

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Dirty 30: Boulders for Shoulders

A pair of broad, dense  shoulders pop-out even in the most innocuous shirts: Which is pretty freakin’ cool.

Boulder shoulders
Photocredit: Realjock.com

That’s why “shoulder’s make the man“ remains such a popular saying.

In men, a good set of shoulders amplifies the V-Taper and X-Power look. For women, a set of toned, wide shoulders make the waist appear smaller, enhancing feminine curves.

A set of boulders for shoulders screams a body of pure-steel and sex-appeal.

Thirty minutes is all you need with this routine. Explosive push presses and controlled isolation exercises will put the shoulders to the test, creating tons of muscle-building tension.


Superset 1:

1 Arm Dumbbell Push Press: Use the legs to give your overhead press some extra power. Accelerate the bar with as much force as you can and hold the lockout position on each rep. This exercise will smoke the shoulders while building stability and challenging the obliques. Perform four sets of six to eight reps to tap into those fast-twitch muscle fibers, resting 30 seconds between arms before moving onto lateral raises.

DB Lateral Raise: From a standing position abduct the arm—bringing the arms from your sides until the elbows are at shoulder height. This bad-boy is the ultimate isolation exercise, targeting the medial head to add width to the shoulder. Rest 30 seconds and continue with the superset.

Superset 2:

Double Kneeling Arnold Press: With both knees down sit tall, squeezing your glutes. Hold the dumbbells in front, palms towards your face. Rotate the palms and press the dumbbells overhead. These were named after…. Yea you guessed it, Arnold Schwarzenneger. Arnold presses combine compound-overhead press with a slight twist to further emphasize the medial head of your shoulders.

Bent-Over Lateral Raise: This beast of an exercise focuses on the rear delts on the backside of the shoulder. With your shoulders already smokin’ the rear delt will handle the brunt of the load, blasting the shoulders from another angle.

Set 3:

Dumbbell Y Press: I must admit, I swiped this exercise from John Romaniello of Roman Fitness Systems.

This exercise is a dumbbell overhead press, except the shoulders go out at a slight angle. This requires a shit-ton of shoulder stability and hammers the traps. Go light and squeeze each rep for 20 reps. Perform two sets.

Roman demonstrates here >>Roman Demo’s DB Y-Press<<

Shoulder Quad Set:
This is icing on the cake and  0% optional. Select a weight you can perform 12 lateral raises with. Say, 20lbs or so.

Perform six DB lateral raises, six DB bent-over lateral raises, six DB front raises, and finish with six dumbbell overhead presses…without setting the dumbbells down. This is one set. If you’re feelin’ spunky try another one, but this bad-boy is a killer.


1a.1 Arm Dumbbell Push Press 4×6-8, Rest 30 seconds between arms

1b. DB Lateral Raise 4×15 Rest 30 seconds

2a. Double Kneeling Arnold Press 3×12 Rest 0

2b. Bent Over Lateral Raise 3×12-15 Rest 60 seconds

3. Dumbell Y Press 2×20 Rest 60 seconds

4. Shoulder Quad-Set 1-2 x6

Boom! You probably won’t even be able to pick up your iPhone to tweet about this workout, but in case you give it a shot hit me up here. Try this routine out when you’re short on time OR you’re feelin’ a little crazy, I’d love to hear what you think.


www.realjock.com, “www.realjock.com.” Accessed November 14, 2013. http://i2.listal.com/image/1053237/300full.jpg.

Romaniello, John. “Roman Fitness Systems.” Roman Fitness Systems Recorded 5 11 2011. Roman Fitness Systems 5 11 2011. Web, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKZjf7lCrdQ.

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15 Minute Fix: Morning productivity

Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.  ~Richard Whately

So why not maximize your morning from the beginning?

Start with a crummy morning, you’ll have a dreadful day. Brew a few dreadful days together and you’re messing with a recipe for a shitty life.

Screw that.

With simple steps and daily practice you can make mornings productive and even enjoyable.



What’s the recipe for a crummy, shit-tastic morning?

It starts with the piercing noise spewing from your alarm clock.

Slowly rolling over, you blindly throw your hand at the snooze button, only to miss and smash your numb hand on the nightstand.


Clenching the covers in your aching fists, you roll back over and attempt 15 minutes of shut-eye.



Stumbling your way to the kitchen you struggle to find your balance, and shock your eye-balls with bright light.

You make a shitty pot of coffee and slop down a shitty bowl of sugary multi-colored cereal (heart healthy by the way). Glancing up from your bitter coffee and sugar-bomb cereal you squint at the florescent-lighted microwave clock. “Shit”, you rush to your closet throwing on clothes that fit the “casual” criteria, and sprint out the door.

Time for day of doing un-rewarding things you don’t want to do. Awesome.


“But Eric, I don’t have time for anything in the morning.”

I hear you, but that’s bullshit.

Take 15 minutes in the morning (yes, you have 15 minutes) you can prime your muscles and mind, build a healthy muscle building breakfast, and set the table for an awesome day.

The First Few Minutes

-Get up right away, even if you wake up before your alarm. Your sleep cycle has ended and smacking the “snooze” will prolong your sleepiness. Pick a relaxing alarm, such as rain or crashing waves.

– Drink a large glass of cold water. You just spent 6-8 hours (hopefully) sleeping. 6-8 hours without fluids leaves you groggy and dried out like a raisin. Slugging down a large class of water re-hydrates your body, jacks up your metabolism, and gets your body rejuvenated for the day ahead.

– Turn the lights on immediately. Light turns off melatonin production, helping you wake faster. Start your coffee, tea, or warm beverage of choice.

Wake up your Body

-While your beverage is brewing use this time to get the blood flowing with a short workout.

Try This

1a. Push-Up x12 reps

1b. Plank x30 seconds

1c. Push-Up x10 Reps

1d. Body Weight Squat x12

1e.Bodyweight Reverse Lunge x6/leg

Feed The Machine

While sipping your coffee, whip together a healthy, muscle building super-shake.


Eat This

-In a blender mix the following

-1 scoop vanilla protein

-1 cup blueberries

-1 cup cottage cheese

-1 cup spinach

Optional: Water or a few ice cubes.

Enjoy your coffee. Then, get dressed, grab your supershake, and head out the door.

 What To Avoid

–      Avoid your email/social media. Waking up right away to check your email, creep on Facebook, or tweet #’s wastes time.


Ready to Maximize your morning?

We all have the same amount of time, how enjoyable that time is remains up to you. Take control of it and maximize your morning productivity. Setting your morning off right takes a little bit of knowledge and willpower. Will you take advantage?

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. -Marcus Aurelius



photo credit: cvogle via photopin cc

photo credit: ad454 via photopin cc

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