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Hate Morning Workouts? Try These 6 Tips to Motivate Yourself

Hate Morning Workouts? Try These 6 Tips to Motivate Yourself

Despite the fact that I’ve been running for about three years now, I still hate getting up in the morning to do my daily workout.

Now, you might find that to be a bit surprising. Indeed, you might be asking yourself, “How the heck has this guy managed to wake up and run for three years if he hates doing it?” This is a good question, as it’s definitely a conundrum. The truth is, while I really dislike waking up early, I love the feeling I get after a run (runner’s high?). This rush, along with the physical benefits, keeps me going.

Additionally, I used to live in an area that was cooler in temperature, so I could run in the afternoon if I wanted to. That changed about a year ago though. Ever since, I’ve had to wake up very early because nowadays it’s far too hot to run outside anytime after 10 AM.

In lieu of that, I’ve discovered several simple tricks that have made it easier for me to abandon my warm comfy bed in favor of the brisk morning air. With these modifications, I can take all the health advantages my morning workout gives me.

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Read on and I’ll share them with you!

1. Plan ahead.

This is crucial. The hardest thing about getting up early for a workout is handling the logistics. Nobody wants to hear their alarm and think to themselves, “Ugh, now I have to find my running shorts, fumble around with my drawers in search of socks, and tumble downstairs to look for my water bottle.”

The key is to do all of those little things the night before. Have your workout clothes folded neatly on your nightstand, ready to go. Have your water bottle, phone, and shoes nearby as well. Everything you need should be within arms reach of your bed. It also helps to set multiple alarms, so that if you happen to sleep through one of them another manages to shake you from your slumber.

The fact is that, while we all have grand plans in the evening, the morning coats us in a glaze of laziness that takes a while to shake off. You need to give yourself every advantage you can get!

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2. Find a workout buddy.

I had one of these for a while, and boy was it awesome. Not only does it make it easier to convince yourself to get out there and do your business, it also means you’ll have pleasant company whilst working out, making it all go by much faster.

My running buddy and I had a good thing going for a while. Let me tell you, runs with a friend felt like they went by much quicker compared to when I went on a solo jaunt. Thirty minute runs felt like they lasted ten minutes or less, especially if we spent the time talking about a juicy subject.

3. Signup for a class.

If you go to college or live near a decent gym, chances are that they’ll have classes you can sign up for. These classes can range from yoga and cross country, to weight lifting and core strengthening. By signing up for an early class, you’ll feel more obligated to wake up in the morning, as you won’t want to disappoint your instructor and/or fellow classmates who might be depending on your presence.

It’s a lot like how you found it easy to read several books for a class, but found it difficult to get through even one during the summer. Different expectations lead to different results. You’ll want to hold yourself to high expectations. Signing up for a class can get you on the right track.

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4. Reward yourself.

No, I’m not saying you should plan on buying a cake and eating it after you go on a run. That’s not realistic if you want to reach your physical goals. What I’m saying is that you should be strategic. If you usually have a latte or caffeine-based drink in the morning, wait until after you’ve completed your workout. It will feel like more of an accomplishment if you can sit and enjoy something delicious after putting yourself through an early morning ordeal.

If you’re a big breakfast eater, maybe you can splurge and go to Dunkin’ Donuts for a tasty pastry after a run. You don’t want to overdo it, but treating yourself in this way from time to time does indeed make it easier to pull yourself out of bed in the morning.

5. Stay consistent.

The more days you wake up early to start your workout, the easier it gets. I don’t know what the scientific term is for this, but I’ll call it the “compounding effect.” The more you do something, the more you’ll feel obligated to keep on doing it, especially if you’re benefiting from it (which you definitely will be).

Once I had been running for about a month, there was a little switch in my brain that went off. It basically forced me to get out there and workout even when I was feeling lazy and tired. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never felt it before, so I’ll put it this way: the more you workout, the harder it becomes to stop. It almost become more painful to do nothing, than it is to get your muscles moving.

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6. Give yourself a bedtime.

I know, sleeping before 11 PM must sound ludicrous to most of you. However, it’s absolutely crucial if you want to be able to do your workout around 6 AM. It’s nearly impossible to find the motivation to workout if you’re running on six hours of sleep or less, which is why you need to force yourself to try and get around eight hours.

So, if your goal is to be out the door at 6 AM, be in bed by 10 PM. 7AM? Be in bed by 11PM. And so on and so forth. It is theoretically possible to get out there and seize the day on less than eight hours of sleep, but it’s hard to keep that up, especially if you happen to be a night owl (like me).

With these tips and tricks in mind, you should now feel confident about your ability to tackle the early morning hours. Try a few of these out for yourself, and discuss your results in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: American Girl/Nathan Rupert via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

12 Stretching Exercises to Increase Your Flexibility

12 Stretching Exercises to Increase Your Flexibility

When thinking about stretching and learning how to become flexible, consider you are doing more than just elongating and strengthening your muscles. You are, in fact, improving circulation of the blood (lymphatic system), and optimizing the depth of your breath, which further enhances circulation[1].

Stretching and yoga aren’t just trends; they are practices that have been utilized by humans arguably for hundreds of thousands of years or more. In many cases, modern humans have simply forgotten much of their ancestry, and stretching/yoga is certainly an integral part.

The following stretching routines, if practiced consistently (every day, or a few times a week), will improve your physical and mental well-being, so let’s get into them!

Here’s a breakdown of all the exercises I’ve covered in the video:

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1. Standing Hamstring Stretch

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    • Stand straight and tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees just slightly bent, and arms by your sides.
    • Exhale as you bend forward (think of a door hinge movement at the hips), lowering your head toward the floor (imagine the top of your head being parallel with the floor), while keeping your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed (do not tense up).
    • Wrap your arms around the backs of your legs, or simply grab and hold the back of your legs; holding anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes.
    • Bend your knees and slowly “roll up” back to the standing position when you’re done.

    2. Downward Dog

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      • Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
      • While exhaling, hinge at the hips and lower your head toward the floor.
      • Place your hands/palms on the ground.
      • Step back with your feet while keeping a neutral back/spine and with your head/neck in-line with your shoulders and arms.

      3. Deep Lunge and Twist

      See the source image
        • Start standing with your feet together hip width apart.
        • Take a large step forward with your right foot.
        • Bend your right knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your left leg as straight as you can behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your left thigh.
        • Place your right hand on the floor or in a pray position, and twist your upper body to the right as you extend your right arm toward the ceiling (for a deeper stretch).
        • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes while taking slow and steady breaths.
        • Repeat on the other side.

        4. Piriformis Stretch

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        See the source image

           

          • Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you to start.
          • Cross your left leg over your right, and place your left foot flat on the floor.
          • Place your left hand on the floor behind your body.
          • Place your right hand on your left quad or your right elbow on your left knee (as shown), and press your left leg to the right as you twist your torso to the left.
          • If the spinal rotation causes back discomfort, remove the twist and simply use your right hand to pull your left quad in and to the right.

          5. Figure Four Stretch

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            • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
            • Cross your left foot over your right quad.
            • Lift your right leg off the floor. Grab onto the back of your right leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
            • When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold there.
            • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
            • Switch sides and repeat.

            6. 90/90 Stretch

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              • Sit with your right knee bent at 90-degrees in front of you, calf perpendicular to your body and the sole of your foot facing to the left. Keep your left foot flexed.
              • Let your leg rest flat on the floor.
              • Place your left knee to the left of your body, and bend the knee so that your foot faces behind you. Keep your left foot flexed.
              • Keep your right butt cheek on the floor. Try to move the left cheek as close to the floor as possible. It may not be possible if your hips are tight.
              • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
              • Repeat on the other side.

              7. Frog Stretch

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              See the source image

                 

                • Start on all fours.
                • Slide your knees wider than shoulder-width apart.
                • Turn your toes out and rest the inner edges of your feet flat on the floor.
                • Ensure your legs are maintaining approximately a 90-degree angle (squared off).
                • Shift your hips back toward your heels.
                • Move from your hands down to your forearms to get a deeper stretch, if possible.
                • Hold for for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                8. Butterfly Stretch

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                  • Sit tall on the floor with the soles of your feet together, knees bent out to the sides.
                  • Hold onto your feet (or ankles), engage your abs slightly to keep an upright posture with steady breathing, and slowly lower your body toward your feet as far as you can while pressing your knees toward the floor. Keep a neutral spine during this stretch.
                  • If you cannot lower your torso, then simply hold the stretch and aim to lower your knees closer to the ground gradually.
                  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                  9. Tricep Stretch

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                    • Kneel, sit, or stand tall with feet hip-width apart, arms extended overhead.
                    • Bend your right elbow and reach your right hand to touch the top middle of your back.
                    • Reach your left hand overhead and grasp just below your right elbow.
                    • Gently pull your right elbow down and toward your head.
                    • Switch arms and repeat.

                    10. Extended Puppy Pose

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                    See the source image
                      • Start on all fours.
                      • Move your arms forward a few inches.
                      • Push your hips up and back halfway toward your heels, or until you feel a deep stretch.
                      • Push through the palms of your hands to keep your arms straight and engaged.
                      • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                      11. Neck Stretch and Release

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                        • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, or sit down with your back straight and chest lifted.
                        • Drop your right ear to your right shoulder.
                        • To deepen the stretch, gently press down on your head with your right hand.
                        • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                        12. Standing Quad Stretch

                        See the source image
                          • Stand with your feet together.
                          • Bend your left knee and use your left hand to pull your left foot toward your butt. Keep your knees together.
                          • If you need to, put one hand on a wall for balance.
                          • Squeeze your glutes to increase the stretch in the front of your legs.
                          • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
                          • Repeat on the other leg.

                          Conclusion

                          The key take away here is that consistency with your stretching routine, followed by good quality sleep and lots of hydration, will instantly begin to improve your quality of life. Find which stretches feel the best in your body and add them to a daily routine you can enjoy.

                          More on How to Become Flexible

                          Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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