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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 July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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