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In Praise of Front Loading

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

The most fundamental and persistent problems often have very simple solutions. That is not to say that the solution is easy to apply, but it is rarely complexity that wins the day. What I want to talk about here is another of example of this principle at work.

The biggest obstacle to progress in physical work aren’t whether you do a low volume or high volume approach, perfecting the programming, using the right supplements or wearing the right gear. It is speaking quite frankly to show up and do the required work. No approach to physical work is going to be any good unless it is adhered for a long period of time. Even a subpar program done consistently will beat a good program done in a haphazard manner.

The same obviously true for most other important aspects in our lives. Significant achievements take time, hard work, dedication and a lot of repetition. We readily accept that and get to work in some areas, education is an obvious example, yet not in others. Otherwise there would be no consumers of 8 week ab programs.

In reality what tends to happen is that we have an intention to change something, say do more physical training, yet invariably life gets in the way. By the time that you realize that you haven’t trained it is late in the day. At this point the reserve ‘willpower points’ have been depleted, and the workout is postponed to tomorrow [and tomorrow it will likely be more of the same]. Now, if the above applies to you, I will suggest that there is one particularly useful way to get around it.

Front loading. The general principle is to do the most important thing first.

In physical work front loading is the term used to describe doing the most important exercise first. It is well known that the exercises in a program done first are the ones that the body will adapt to the most strongly. This is why physical weaknesses or the exercise that is primary emphasis should be done first.

In life do the most important task of the day first, and feel lighter and more accomplished rather than letting it sit until the last possible moment.

Physiologically speaking the best time to train is somewhere from mid afternoon to early evening. The exact timing depends slightly on whether the training is endurance or it is strength oriented. For all but elite athletes that is a tertiary concern. In fact, this forms some sort of litmus test, if you know about this particular piece of physiology trivia but still cannot get workouts to happen consistently is terribly wrong.

Instead enact the power of front loading – do the workout as early as practically feasible. Possibly even in a fasted state, or with nothing but a “shake” in the system.

Yes, yes, that may not be the most optimal from an anabolic point of view – but whatever. This may mean training before the break of dawn or it may be at 9am depending on your daily schedule. It will mean different things for different people, and that is not the main thing. The crux of the matter is to go get some workouts under the belt, and thusly beginning to form a habit of doing the workouts, at which point things becomes easier.

Once it has become a habit has been formed, it is perfectly possible to move the workouts to a different time of day, if you so desire. Though you may have grown fond of your morning ritual. I have trained early in the day for years on end with good results.

[This blog was first posted on]

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