Have you been there? It’s your 5 am wake-up call, and your first thought is to throw the clock across the room and flip over. I get it; the last thing I want to do some mornings is jump out of bed and hit the ground running. But then I remember how challenging it is to wait until the afternoon because inevitably, life takes over, and as the day progresses, so too does my motivation.
If you struggle with getting up early but have pondered adding one or two-morning workouts into your routine, let’s go through the pros and cons and a few simple tips for moving you into action.
There are many variables to note when considering a morning routine. We all have different goals, constantly changing schedules, and many responsibilities to work around.
Remember that consistency is vital, so regardless of the time of day or what you choose, the best results are when exercise becomes part of your daily routine, not just something you do occasionally. List everything that could get in your way of building a solid movement habit, and be on purpose when planning your workouts.
That said, working out in the morning offers many benefits for a healthy lifestyle. Let’s explore a few.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of a Morning Workout
- Do Morning Workouts Have Any Downside?
- How to Prepare For Your Morning Workout
- The Morning Workout Routine
- Final Thoughts
Benefits of a Morning Workout
The benefits of working out in the morning include:
Encourage smarter food selection throughout the day
Who wants to ruin the hard work of getting up early and having a challenging workout? Working out in the wee hours develops a better mindset which helps you be more mindful of your food choices.
Improve your mood
“Exercise leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and an improved attention span. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as rejuvenated and recharged.” — Jasmin Theard, ACSM HFS, exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center
Boost energy, clarity, and focus
Aerobic exercise causes the body to release endorphins. These chemicals not only improve your mood but they also increase your clarity, focus, and energy.
Kickstart your metabolism
Get up and run, walk, bike, and lift weights – it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re making your muscles, heart, and lungs work. Although research has shown that you won’t be able to train as hard as in the evening, a morning workout is one of the most effective methods to increase metabolism over time, leading to weight/fat loss
Lower blood pressure
Exercise lowers blood pressure by reducing blood vessel stiffness so blood can flow more easily. The effects of exercise are most noticeable during and immediately after a workout.
Lowered blood pressure can be most significant right after you work out. Morning exercise will encourage more movement throughout the day, lowering your blood pressure over time.
Moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you get. Slow-wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body can rejuvenate, according to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General.
A less crowded gym allows more variety in your workout
Getting an early start allows for an efficient routine. If you are short on time, get to the gym before the crowd wakes up. You will move to and from the equipment without any disruptions.
Do Morning Workouts Have Any Downside?
The only potential downsides to getting up before the sun would be the following:
- It takes longer to warm up
- Muscles, joints, and ligaments are tighter in the morning
- It will require an early wake-up call, so planning an efficient amount of shut-eye is a must
But if you plan, you will see the benefits outweigh the cons.
How to Prepare For Your Morning Workout
Working out in the morning is an excellent choice, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a more experienced exercise enthusiast.
Energy levels are generally lower early on, and muscles and joints are tighter, so ensure you perform a proper warm-up if you plan a higher-intensity workout. A light-medium-impact training session is more suitable if energy is low.
If you have more time and have a decent night’s rest, adding a couple of higher-intensity workouts to your morning routine will check off all the benefits listed above.
If you are looking for your morning routine to help you in the weight/fat loss department because you are in the fasted state, don’t be fooled. Fasted state, as defined by experts, is having not eaten anything for 6-8 hours or overnight.
In a fasted state, your body’s carbohydrate stores are lower, which means the body relies more heavily on fat or, in some cases, protein as a fuel source since the body’s preferred energy source, carbohydrates, is limited.
This may sound great, but if your workout lasts less than an hour and you are not committed to the early rise for the long haul, it won’t speed up your weight/fat loss goals any faster than if you were in a fed state (your last meal or snack was less than four hours before your training session.
Consistent calorie balance as part of a long-term plan, not a couple of fasted workouts, determines whether you lose or gain weight, according to experts.
Now that we have that covered let’s look at a few tips to get you comfortable and consistent with your morning routine.
Begin with one morning a week and plan your evening prep routine. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier and lay everything out: clothes, water bottle, car keys, jacket, sneakers, etc. so you are ready to roll out of bed and hit the ground running.
If you stumble in the morning, you will lose too much time, motivation and will likely forgo the workout. Once you have a handle on one morning, add another morning until your desired workout days have been achieved.
Plan Your Week
Decide which days are non-negotiables and which you will give yourself a break and forgo the early rise. Be sure to plan accordingly to decrease the potential for injury due to a tired and hungry body.
Planning and giving yourself that choice is empowering, and you are more likely to show up for and commit to yourself knowing there is a schedule and a break somewhere in the mix.
Get an Accountability Partner
Find someone close who is on a similar schedule and plan your week together. Knowing my neighbor is waiting for me is a great motivator when I don’t feel like pulling the sheets back on a cold, wet morning. Even trainers need to be encouraged now and again.
Have a Strong Why
Remind yourself of why you want to get out of bed and work out in the first place.
I am a preventative coach. I teach my clients (and myself) not to wait until something happens before they take action. Being healthy isn’t about the quick fix, getting into a tight dress, or prepping for an event (although all great motivators to get started); there must be more to keep you going for the long hall. It is about showing up for yourself every day to build great lifelong habits.
The Morning Workout Routine
If you’re just getting started, give this mini beginner workout a whirl:
1. Perform this 7-minute warm-up:
2. Then, choose one of the followings:
- a) Go for a 10-minute walk, jog or bike; or
- b) Try the following exercises:
- 2×30 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest
- Push-Ups, Squats, and Planks are a great place to begin.
Once you are consistent, add another day, then additional time.
Practice this for a month, then add until you achieve the desired days and times.
After a month of consistency, it is time to change your exercises.
Intermediate to Advanced 20-Minute Weighted Workout
Follow along here:
Initially, there will be a short warm-up, but please extend it if you need more time.
If you want to extend the workout, repeat for 1-2 more rounds:
- Warm-Up 1×5-10
- Quad Stretch
- Knee Hugs
- Hip Rolls
Perform each group: 2×30 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest
- Jumping Jack
- Weighted Lunges (R&L)
- Jump Squats
- Renegade Row
- High to Low Plank
- Side Lunge with Curl to Press
- Floor Bridge Skull Crusher
- Alternating Chest Press
I show two variations here. Perform the abs, then the Donkey Kick, or Perform the Abs and one side of the Donkey Kick, then the abs again, and finish with Donkey Kick on the other side.
Add the Abdominal Knee Press Out with Hip Lift and Donkey Kick if you like extra core work.
Working out in the morning has many benefits, but if you are on the struggle bus when the alarm goes off, you may have to start with one day/week and then add as you get used to the early rise.
If it is still a challenge for you, review your schedule and decide to add a mix of morning workouts and other more suitable times.
Regardless of when you choose to work out, the takeaway is consistency. I encourage my clients to pick a time that fits their daily schedule and commit to it because working out when it is convenient is better than not working out at all.
Featured photo credit: Mike Bowman via unsplash.com
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