Lately I’ve had a lot of questions about working out. That makes sense, hence my album Heavy Metal Workout! So I decided to share my morning routine of working out and guitar practice, and some more inside scoops about my current life.
It all starts around 4:30AM. My alarm goes off, and I pop out of bed. I sometimes wake up to pee a little before my alarm goes off, in which most of the time I’ll just get up. Nature calls, so I listen (otherwise I’d float out of bed and we don’t want that!).
The first thing I do throw on my gym clothes. I have those beside my bed for easy access. I brush my teeth then slam down a pre-workout drink with some branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). This system is a very quick one, as I have everything in place. I’m basically up and out the door within 5 minutes.
Morning Workout Routine
With my gym just around the corner, I’m usually there by 4:45AM. It’s time to train! I’ll break down my Monday through Friday workout routine below:
- 4:45AM – 5:40AM – Weight training
- 5:40AM – 6:10AM – Martial arts training
- 6:10AM – 6:35AM – Light cardio (walking on the treadmill)
These times are approximates. I’m in the gym for about 2 hours. This may sound like overkill (almost a pun there…Overkill, you know, the metal band??). But this is something I enjoy. There are days where I may only be in the gym for an hour or so. Like last Friday, my martial arts training was pretty intense so I skipped my cardio session.
You have to listen to your body and know when to say when (I think that line was part of an old beer commercial…yeah, it was, ‘Friends know when to say when!).
Weight Training Workout Schedule
Let’s dig a little deeper now info the actual workouts. The weight training part will look similar to a typical bodybuilding workout. I’ll usually go heavy in the beginning with compound exercises and will do more reps towards the end of the workout. It varies, and I change my workouts up about every 6 weeks.
- Back: 4-5 exercises, 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps
- Biceps: 1 exercise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Calves: 1 exercise, 6-7 sets of 15 reps
- Chest: 3-4 exercises, 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps
- Triceps: 1 exercise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Quads: 3-4 exercises, 4-10 sets of 12-20 reps
- Hamstrings: 1-2 exercises, 5-7 sets of 12-15 reps
- Calves: 1 exercise, 6-7 sets of 15 reps
- Shoulders: 3 exercises, 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps
- Traps: 1-2 exercises, 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps
- Biceps: 2-3 exercises, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Triceps: 3-4 exercises, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Calves: 1 exercise, 6-7 sets of 15 reps
- Saturday/Sunday (usually take one of those days off)
- Extra leg workout
- Martial arts with stretching
Weight Training Notes
For larger muscles like chest, back, and quads, I’ll do anywhere from 4-5 exercises, 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps. I usually work my way up to some heavy weights for the first exercise and then start adding reps for every exercises thereafter.
For smaller muscles, such as biceps and triceps, I’ll only do a couple of exercises, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
I have different rules for legs. Since there are more slow twitch muscle fibers in the quads, I go for more reps and overall volume. Much of what I do for legs is leg press, leg extensions, leg curls, and lunges. I’ll end up doing anywhere from 7-10 sets for leg press, and will sometimes go up to 20 reps. AKA…I’m not one of those dudes that loads up the leg press machine with as many plates as possible only to go down a few inches and call it a rep!
* A quick side note. On the way to the gym, I have a short prayer I say and I also tell myself positive things. This may sound strange to some, but it’s imperative to start your day with a positive attitude and absolutely do not allow any negative thoughts enter your head!
Martial Arts & Stretching
Martial arts training is something I recently picked up. I’ve been fascinated with martial arts, specifically Kung Fu, since I was a kid. Me and my cousin used to watch Kung Fu Theater on Saturdays and we’d then go out in the yard and practice!
For whatever reason I never pursued martial arts until about a month ago. Like with many things, I’m learning on YouTube. I have a routine of kicks I do and also integrate deep stretching before and after.
Here’s my kick-routine:
- Straight kicks – 10 reps
- Front snap kicks – 10 reps
- Outside smashes – 7 reps
- Inside smashes – 7 reps
- Side kicks – 7 reps
I do 3 rounds of this (the reps are for each leg). I’m starting to implement some more kicks as I master these (I’m far off from being a master!). For example, I’m just getting into jump kicks. So if I do those, I’ll drop something else.
My stretching is somewhat intense as well. I stretch before and after martial arts, as part of the routine. This has helps me become more flexible, kick higher, and I haven’t had any lower back pain since I started martial arts training. Huge plus for me!
I also incorporate some punches from time to time. Like air guitar, they’re mostly air punches! So are my kicks. I do use the heavy bag at the gym a few days a week. Dude, this is a tough workout!
It’s important to note that I’m not a fighter nor am I aggressive by nature. Heck, I don’t even like to compete. If someone says they’re better than me, I’m okay with that. I’m like ‘next!’ I just had this crazy itch to get into martial arts, so here I am. Who knows where it will go?
Cardio Time – Learn & Burn
My cardio is just walking on a slight incline, about 2-3, on the treadmill. I usually walk at 3.4 miles per hour. I use this time to study Thai language, which I’m becoming more fluent by the day.
I call this Learn & Burn! I’ve been studying Thai language for almost 2 years (Pom rian pasa Thai braat maan song bpii). Since learning a new language uses that mathematical part of your brain, I deem myself as a slow learner. But I’m getting there. I’m also learning to read and write Thai. This is a huge accomplishment for me, even at my current level of fluency, because I did not grow up learning another language; I just started getting serious about learning Thai when I turned 40.
Back to the cardio part, this is kind of a cool-down for me. Once I finish, I go home, drink a protein shake and get cleaned up.
* I didn’t cover my diet here. My rule is to eat healthy during the week and I splurge a bit on the weekends (and possibly once during the week). As you know, I enjoy craft beer. In fact, I enjoy it a lot! However, with all things, I set limits and maintain balance. I have my wife to thank for that.
Morning Guitar Practice Routine
We’re finally at my morning guitar practice routine! By the time I get home from the gym it’s about 6:45AM. I drink my shake, help my wife take care of our animals (we have dogs and cats…we love puppies and kitties!), shower and get dressed. I currently have a regular day-job, which I hope I can be self-sufficient at some point, sooner rather than later!
It’s about 7:30AM or so before I pick up my guitar. If I have body shaving to do, it’s a bit later. Yes, I know…lame. I started this when I was younger and it’s just a part of life at this point. Not to mention I’m bald so head-shaving is part of that too. Anyway…not sure why I felt the need to share that.
Regardless, I make a point to go through some riffs and leads for about 10 minutes. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s best to do a little each day rather than practice for a big block of time only to go several days without touching your guitar. Consistency is absolute key, no matter what level you’re at.
My typical guitar practice routine is similar to my workouts. It revolves around sets of repetitions. Here are a few techniques I practice:
- Sweep arpeggios
- Finger tapping
- Speed picking
I aspire to do 3 rounds of all of these guitar techniques. And I don’t do any specific riffs; I just make something up on the fly and practice it. And I’ll repeat that pattern over and over, and perhaps add some notes to it.
I may practice rhythm playing as well. As you know, playing metal rhythms and riffs is equivalent to playing guitar solos. And you don’t want to get great on solos yet suck at rhythms! Trust me, it can happen to anyone.
Now you may be thinking ‘Dude, why don’t you cut your workouts short and spend more time practicing guitar?‘ Well, this isn’t the only time I play guitar. I try to fit in some music time a couple nights a week for longer sessions. And these are the times when I’m either writing or recording new music. So that’s another form of practice.
Remember this, and you can quote me:
Doing, in whatever form it may be, will always make you better. – Jason Stallworth
Making Time vs. Finding Time
This may all sound a bit overwhelming, and by no means am I boasting. We all make excuses; even I do at times. But I always go back to what a wise-friend once told me:
You have time for what you make time for. (thanks Tom!)
You don’t have to workout like I do for 2 hours in the morning. You may only want to do an hour, or even 30 minutes. Remember, something is better than nothing. The key here is consistency.
It’s the same with practicing guitar, or another instrument, or vocals. You have to commit to these things. And you can’t just go all-out one day and then not touch it for several days. You’ll be very unsatisfied with the outcome. If you want it bad enough, you have to go for it. Make the time for it.
I say these things to encourage you! I love to see people reach that point of success, whether it’s their business, progressing with their instrument, breaking a personal record, attaining health, etc. It just makes the world a better place.
So take my morning routine and cater it to your liking. Use this as a guide to create your own if you don’t have one. And wake up early! There’s just something magical and fresh about being up at 4:30 in the morning!
Keep it Metal,