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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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Published on March 8, 2019

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

Think about your current workouts:

If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

    A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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    Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

    Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

    Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

    Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

    This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

    Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

    Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

    The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

    Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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    Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

    Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

    The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

    The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

    Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

    Meet Strong Stan

    Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

    While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

    While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

    Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

    Meet Flexible Fiona

    Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

    Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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    To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

    Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

    It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

    Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

    Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

    What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

    In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

    In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

    So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

    You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

    If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

    If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

    Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

      Final Thoughts

      If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

      Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

      Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

      With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

      More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

      Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

      Reference

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