When he is prepping for a bodybuilding competition, every morning looks the exact same for Michael Smith. During his off-season, it may look a little different, but Smith knows that sticking to a routine is essential to keeping up his training.
“When you’re on prep, it’s all the same, but it’s not bad,” says Smith. “It makes it easy, there is no guesswork and you just do what you gotta do.”
For Smith, every part of his morning routine is essential and he says nothing can be overlooked or skipped if he wants to have a successful and productive day.
“Every measurement of the food you’re eating, every minute of cardio, the first minute on the bike is just as important as the last, the stretching is also important... it is the consistency every day, checking all the boxes,” Smith says.
You can find Smith’s “Bulking Training Split” program and “Cutting Training Split” program in his fitness app, as well as a Nutrition Philosophy program in which he shares how he eats during his training.
Smith took some time one Friday morning to chat with me and share his morning routine, along with tips to help others stay consistent with their own habits.
Here is what mornings look like for Smith:
Smith’s day begins between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., depending on when he finished eating his sixth meal the day before. When he’s prepping for competition, his routine involves a lot of eating — and therefore cleaning up — so his wake-up time is dependent on when he gets to sleep the night before.
Once Smith is up, he “drinks a cup or two of water, if I’m really dragging in the morning, I’ll do half a cup of black coffee just to keep me moving,” Smith says. “Then I brush my teeth and from there I’ll mix in some BCAAs and EAAs and glutamine, just something to sip on during the fasted cardio.”
Next, it’s time for fasted cardio, which is about 30 to 45 minutes long. Fasted cardio means you are performing your cardio workout on an empty stomach while your body is not digesting any food.
“I’ll jump on the bike. I have a stationary bike in my apartment gym which is nice, and then once I’m finished with that I’ll go through a stretching routine,” Smith says.
His stretching routine is normally 10 to 15 minutes long.
After the fasted cardio, “I’m usually pretty hungry, so I’ll get breakfast cooking,” Smith says.
Breakfast consists of two servings of Cream of Wheat, which comes out to about 70 grams of carbs.
“I’ll throw in a little bit of protein powder and egg whites to add some flavor, Cream of Wheat really has no flavor,” Smith says.
Once breakfast has been made and Smith has eaten his first meal, it is around 10 a.m. and he is ready to tackle the rest of his day. After that, he likes to get some work done before he trains for a second time later in the day.
“Getting a good breakfast in, some carbs to replenish and get my body ready to train later, and on slow mornings coffee is important,” Smith says about the final steps in his morning routine.
Sticking to a morning routine that works for you may be difficult in the beginning, but Smith says it is all about figuring out what your goals are and doing what works for you. Everyone is different, with individual goals, and therefore our morning routines will vary.
“Find something that works for you,” Smith says. “Experiment with different things.”
If you are like Smith and are training for a competition, he says you need to “understand it is going to take a lot of sacrifices, but enjoy that process because it all pays off.”
However, if you are just looking to live a more healthy lifestyle, then start with “a good breakfast, it sets the tone for the day, especially if you are someone who trains,” Smith says.
“Experiment with things and find something you can stick to consistently, that way you are happy with [the routine],” Smith says. “No matter what you do or what your goals are, do your dishes before bed.”
Even if you are “tired and just wanna get to bed, staying up that 10 to 15 minutes just to scrub the pans and put everything in the dishwasher, when you wake up and walk into your kitchen, it’s small but helps to set the tone for the [next] day,” Smith says.
Smith’s fitness app includes a “Push/Pull Split” program, which is a great place to start if you are looking to begin your training and need more information on weight training and nutrition. The 4-week program is great for building a strong foundation, and can be the first step in creating a successful routine.
About the author
Jessica is a recent graduate from the Ohio State University, now based in New York. Jessica loves to read, is passionate about fitness and nutrition, and is always looking for new restaurants with the best pasta dishes. On the weekends, you can find her playing with her dog Wilson, at the beach with a good book, or doing pilates.