Let’s face it- waking up in the morning is brutal enough for most of us as is. The last thing you probably want to do is wake up earlier, but if you can master the morning workout, it can be life changing.
The key is to learn how to make working out part of your normal morning routine. I know from experience it’s a lot harder than it sounds, but trust me when I say- if I can do it, you can too.
I hope you find the following motivational tips and anecdotes helpful. But before we get to the good stuff, I think we should start with a healthy rant to get us all in the right mindset.
Waking Up Is The Worst Part Of The Day
Let’s face it, getting out of bed in the morning is the hardest thing you have to do all day.
It’s dark- you’re all warm and comfortable, resting peacefully in your bed and then a fire siren of an alarm goes off, abruptly reminding you that it’s Wednesday and you have to get up, deal with kids, go to work, come home, deal with kids some more, and (let’s be honest) count the hours until you get to go back to bed and sleep again.
I’m not addicted to sleep or anything, I just can’t seem to get enough of it.
Plus, there’s the fact that no matter what time you go to bed, it’s never early enough. Personally, I’m ALWAYS tired in the morning, regardless of what time I go to sleep. I can’t be alone in this.
I blame it on my kids. No, I’m serious. I think the emotional and physical stress they put me through on a daily basis just completely drains my life force. I don’t think they do it on purpose exactly (my daughter might), but I don’t think they’d lose any sleep over it either if they knew the effect they had on me.
I’m pretty sure I’d have to hibernate like a bear for at least 3 winters to fully recover. And even then it’s not guaranteed.
I usually make things worse for myself too- by acknowledging this fact and staying up even later because why not- if I go to bed early I’ll still be tired in the morning, so I might as well stay up and enjoy myself, right?
Well, I may be making things worse for myself by creating a never-ending , self-fulling cycle of fatigue, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Instead, before you guys start referring me to therapy for psychological intervention, I want you all to know that I’ve found a better way to start my day- exercise.
Before kids, I always worked out in the evenings after work. It was great- I’d get off work around 5 or so, go to the gym and workout for an hour or so, and be home in time for dinner.
All my readers with children will understand what I mean when I say things changed “a little” when we had kids.
I no longer had the time to workout after work. Kids had to be picked up and taken care of- turns out kids have to eat dinner “every day”…craziness.
Anyway, when kids came into the picture, my exercise schedule changed drastically. For awhile, I have to admit exercising was put on the back burner. It was happening less and less and I was noticing a difference with how I felt.
But I’ve always been an active person and not exercising wasn’t an option. I had to find a solution and the only thing I could come up with was working out in the morning before everyone else woke up.
So that’s what I started doing. It was hard and took a lot of getting used to. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s still hard, but with time it got a little easier.
If you are also having a hard time fitting exercise into your daily routine, you should consider working out in the morning. I hope the following tips motivate you to stop making excuses and start getting your morning exercise on.
How To Workout In The Morning
#1 You Don’t Have To Wake Up That Much Earlier
The first thing to know is that you probably don’t have to wake up that much earlier than you are now. There are a lot factors in play here, but it might not be as bad as you think.
For me, I workout at home, so there’s no commute to the gym or having to wait in line for any equipment. Our day gets started around 7 at my house, so I wake up at 6 to exercise in the attic. By the time I get out of bed, get dressed, and get up there I normally have around 45 minutes to work with.
Which is enough for me to get a decent workout in. If you are working out at home, I would say worst case you have to wake up an hour earlier than you normally do. But depending on what type of workout you are doing, you may only need to wake up 30 min earlier. Ever done a HIIT workout? Trust me, 30 min is plenty of time.
If you workout at a commercial gym, then you will have to account for the commute time. Depending on how far away you are and your family dynamics, you may be better off packing your work clothes and going straight to work from the gym.
#2 Feel Energized For The Rest Of The Day
I know, this sounds like BS, but it’s real. Working out in the morning wakes you up and energizes you. I don’t drink coffee, but I know people who need like 3 cups of it to get going in the morning. A morning workout will wake you up without the caffeine dependency.
Besides getting your body heated up and your heart rate elevated, exercise causes a bunch of other physiological effects on your body that wake you up and get you feeling good. Endorphins and other neurotransmitters are released that can significantly improve your overall mood as well.
So if you’re looking to break that coffee habit, try getting up and working out before work instead. It’s a natural, healthier alternative.
#3 No Matter What, At Least You Exercised
This is one of the most motivating factors for me. When I’m lying in bed after my alarm goes off, contemplating whether I should really get up or not, this thought goes through my head: “if I do this now, no matter how sh***y the rest of my day is, at least I got a workout in”.
It’s a powerful thing when you think about it. There’s a lot of stuff that happens to us in the span of a day, most of which we have zero control over. But getting up and exercising is something we have total control over. We can choose to get up and do something beneficial for our bodies and minds, and no matter what happens for the rest of the day, at least you did this one good thing for yourself.
#4 Have A Plan
Having a game plan is one of the best things you can do to ensure your morning success. By this, I mean you should know exactly what workout you’re going to do before you wake up. Think about it the night before and have a plan when you wake up.
If you don’t, your workout is going to suffer for it.
This is something I’ve been guilty of many times. I do the right thing, I wake up and go upstairs, but then I waste all kinds of time playing around with the weights or trying to figure out what I want to do. The end result is better than nothing of course, but it’s not always what I would consider a good workout.
Know whether you’re doing cardio or weights or both. Are you doing an interval workout or is it purely a strength training day? Either way, know ahead of time and your workout will be more efficient.
#5 Have A Backup Plan
Let’s say you did your homework and you had the best intentions of doing your prepared workout this morning. Good work! But in the real world, stuff happens. This morning you hit the snooze button 6 times and now you have 12 minutes to workout. When this happens (and it will happen) it’s a good idea to have a backup workout.
I suggest having a bodyweight circuit prepared, something you can do anywhere and within 10 minutes or so.
For example: 20 bodyweight squats, 20 pushups, 20 sit ups. Rest as little as possible between exercises and repeat as many times as your time allows. Boom, done! Hey, it may not be the workout you had planned, but it’s still a lot better than nothing.
#6 You Will Need Music
This is especially true if you are not a morning person. If you’ve successfully rolled out of bed, gotten dressed, and made it to your gym, you’re 90% there. Now you just need the motivation to get through your workout. This is where music comes in handy.
Regardless of your taste in music, it will help make your workouts more enjoyable. Maybe you like chill alt rock while you run. Or maybe you’re using rap or heavy metal to help get you pumped while you hit the weights. It’s all good and it will definitely help keep you awake and motivated.
#7 Keep The Alarm Away From The Bed
This is an old trick I learned in college. If you have the best intentions and really want to get up to exercise in the morning, but just can’t seem to make it out of bed (I’ve been known to wake up so fast and turn the alarm off that I’m back asleep in bed before I consciously realize it), keeping your alarm clock away from the bed can do the trick.
When the alarm goes off, you are forced to get out of bed to turn it off. By then, you’re already out of bed, which is the hardest part to begin with.
This little tricked made sure I woke up for my morning Spanish classes freshman year.
Nowadays, I keep the alarm beside my bed, but the noise it makes is so abrupt and harsh it jolts me awake, turning my fight of flight response on full alert. Nothing says good morning like an adrenaline rush.
#8 Earn Your Breakfast
I don’t know about you, but I love breakfast. It’s definitely one of the main motivators to get me out of bed on the weekends. When you’re looking for some extra motivation to get up and exercise in the morning, think about how much better that breakfast is going to taste after a great workout.
I would also say it’s fair to allow yourself some extra breakfast if you got a good workout in. If you’re trying to lose weight, you probably shouldn’t add any extra servings, but if you’re just maintaining or trying to add some muscle mass, I say go for it, you’ve earned it!
There have been times when I’ve made a deal with myself: if I workout, I get to eat breakfast. If I don’t, then no breakfast. It usually helps me, because I’m too hungry in the mornings to try and skip a meal. Unless I’m in one of my fasting modes (which doesn’t happen very often).
#9 Sorry, I’m Exercising
This one doesn’t come up very often, but when it does, it’s pretty handy. If you have small children, occasionally they have a hard time sleeping or they just get up earlier than normal. When this happens, someone usually has to get up and interact with them- try to keep them quiet, or attend to them if they are sick.
Well, if you are already at the gym or in your attic exercising, that person can’t be you. You are officially off the hook because you are already busy taking care of your health needs.
-“Can someone help me clean up this mess?”
-“Sorry, can’t, I’m exercising”.
#10 Enjoy Your Evenings
Last, but not least, working out in the morning adds an extra hour to your day. Well, assuming you wake up an hour earlier to exercise. Anyway, if you get your workout out of the way in the morning before work, you should have some extra “you” time in the evening.
Enjoy this extra time because you earned it- you got up early and did what you had to. Now, you should enjoy the relaxation time. Watch a movie, go out for a drink, or simply stay home and binge watch Game Of Thrones.
Whatever you choose, you won’t have to stress out about trying to fit a workout in. This is especially true on the really hectic days when you get stuck late at work or when the kids have 4 different activities going on in the evening.
If you wait until the end of the day to exercise, there’s no guarantee you’ll have the time (or energy) to do it.