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Why You Should Be Working Out First Thing in the Morning

Why You Should Be Working Out First Thing in the Morning

During high school and college I grew to despise my alarm clock. As a swimmer my alarm clock went 5-alarm crazy at 4:45am four days a week, at which point I would shuffle to the pool (all too often through a bleak Canadian winter) with my teammates where we would swim up and down the black line for a couple of hours before heading off to school.

One of the best feelings of my life was the first Monday morning after I left the sport where my alarm went off, and as the confusion passed, I realized that I could guilt-free go right back to sleep.

A funny thing has happened since then.

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With no one to tell me what time to get up I soon learned to respect the early morning workout, and to be honest, while I don’t miss the awful sound the alarm made (and I don’t get up at the ungodly hour of 4ish AM), I have grown to appreciate the early morning workouts a lot more.

After all…The key to a successful workout program is finding a time and schedule for your workouts that allow for the highest percentage of completed sessions.

While it’s easy to fixate on finding the best supplements, or the coolest-looking workout gear, the real game changer when it comes to results in the gym isn’t something you pick up at GNC or will find in the forum of a bodybuilding website. It’s picking and sticking to a time where you are most likely to be consistent with attending the gym. Depending on your schedule this might mean not being able to go to the gym until late at night, or mid-afternoon, or during peak hours during the after-work rush. Whatever your schedule, here are 8 reasons you should choose to workout first thing in the morning:

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1. Early morning workouts tend to encourage better eating habits later in the day.

Exercise is one of those keystone habits that seeps into other areas of your life. After a good workout you tend to lean on better food choices to compliment the healthy physical decision you have already made.

2. Early morning workouts remove the sense of “Ugh, I still have to…”

This is a thought that plagues many of us late in the day when we are bushed and the last thing we want to do is go to the gym. Get it out of the way early, and you can focus the rest of the day without the nagging sense you still have something to do later.

3. Early morning workouts give you a better chance at having a killer workout.

Think about it, at the end of the day you are mentally and physically worn down and your willpower is bordering on depleted. In the AM you are fresh, mostly awake, and mentally you are more energetic than at the end of a long workday.

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4. Early morning workouts tend to come with more gym space.

If you are one of the brave souls who go to the gym right after work for the 5-6:30pm frenzy you are well acquainted with the line-ups and craziness that the gym assumes during this time. In the mornings it’s a much different pace. Less waits, less people, and a quicker and more efficient workout.

5. Early morning workouts get your day off to a great start.

The sensation of having accomplished something early in the day is a fantastic way to get your day going. (Want another easier one? Make your bed each day. Seriously. The little hit of dopamine that comes with completing what seems like such a benign task can help propel your day.) When your workout is done and over with, you can’t help but feel a little more stoked to take on the rest of the day.

6. Early morning workouts means that you are less likely to bail on the gym.

When you make going to the gym part of your daily morning routine your workout program becomes habit. And when it becomes habit, well, the gains and improvements start to happen on auto-pilot. And the easiest way to get the habitual gym sessions going is to attach it to something you are already doing. By piggy-backing the gym to something you are already doing—“When I do this, I do that” it makes the exercise habit easier to install.

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7. Early morning workouts make getting up easier.

Your body is a hilariously smart piece of machinery. Once you get into the swing of getting up and working out at a specific time your body begins to anticipate waking up at a specific time. This makes it much easier to wake up, as your body is already priming for what is to come by adjusting the circadian rhythm and endocrine system in anticipation of waking up. (Additionally, morning exercise typically helps you get to bed earlier at night.)

8. Early morning workouts make you mentally sharper.

If you’ve ever struggled with a creative task, and then gone for a run and had the answer hit you while on mile 4 you know what I am talking about. Exercise has been shown to boost brain function both short term (up to 4-10 hours) and long term (adding moderate exercise pushes back cognitive decline by 10-15 years in even middle aged people). Getting that early morning sesh in means that you are not only helping out your brain big time in the long run, but your decision making and mental output will greatly benefit for the rest of the day as well.

In Summary

At the end of the day it doesn’t really make that much of a difference what time you hit the gym. What matters most is that you are going.

If that means hitting the gym at 1am, than so be it. But if you’ve got the consistency and routine part down, consider hitting the gym in the mornings so that you can propel yourself physically and mentally through the rest of your day.

This post was originally published over at YourWorkoutBook.com.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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