FULL DISCLAIMER: I’m not claiming to be an expert or consistent practitioner here. If you made a bar graph comparing the number of times I’ve worked out in the morning with the number of times I’ve worked out in the evening, the morning bar would be so tiny, it would negate the purpose of creating the graph entirely.
That being said — I have had times (last summer, for example) when I worked out every morning and loved it. I’m drawing from those experiences as well as the experiences of friends I’ve polled on the subject.
I don’t want to complain about being busy — my life is very full of life right now, and that’s a very exciting thing.
The only problem with having a life full of life is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to carve out time to work out. Exercise, I’ve learned, is very important for more than my physical health — it’s important for my sanity. After a full workday of sitting at a desk, staring at a screen, I need to move and sweat or I go a little cuckoo. Like a dog who’s been inside all day. I figuratively start chewing on leather shoes.
As the weather is becoming more and more beautiful each day, outdoor activities are filling my schedule each night. Mondays, for example, are now kickball nights. Wednesdays are softball nights. Although both of these activities are fun, they aren’t huge calorie-burners — but they do take up most of the night, and often get in the way of eating a clean dinner at home. Which means no workout, and a not-so-healthy dinner. Ruh-roh raggy.
Luckily, there is this window of time that almost all of us have available, that has been scientifically proven to be the most effective way to squeeze in a workout: The morning.
I know, eye roll. Hear me out.
Any article you read about productivity will tell you that starting your day with a workout gives you energy, forces you to sleep better, and helps you focus at work/school/life.
Squeezing in a morning workout requires some effort — which we’ll discuss later — but it frees you up to make better use of your day. Without sounding like an elementary school principal, it sets you up for success.
So, morning workouts: Come at me bro.
I decided to give it a try this week, trying old and new tactics to make sure I was movin’ and shakin’ by 7AM.
So far, I’m a huge fan. I’ve started the day with a bang, and don’t feel the need to drink as much coffee to wake myself up before work. I’ve fallen asleep naturally around 11-11:30 (passed out, really), and have been ready to go again the next morning.
Because I know I only have 30-40 minutes, I’ve been efficient with my time in the gym, and looking up new workouts that are meant to work you hard in a concentrated amount of time.
By the way, shoutout to HIIT workouts; I love these guys. If you’re just getting into workout, search for “15 minute HIIT workout” on Pinterest and do one at your own pace; learn how to do each move properly and add weight, reps, or sets. There is a science to it – let other people do that work for you.
(I pinned my favorite short HIIT workouts for you here.)
Whether you’re new to working out or a nighttime gym goer looking to change up your routine, here are some helpful tips to make yourself a twinkle-toed morning workout person:
Prepare everything the night before like you would for a drunk toddler.
Get your clothes together. Put them in a pile, starting with the thing you put on first (I’m not kidding). Put your shoes, headphones, and keys right next to your workout clothes. Put this whole pile right next to your bed. Don’t leave any decisions for the morning. Don’t make yourself think — waking up is hard enough. Fill your water bottle with mostly ice (and a little water) and place it in the fridge, so you can grab it on your way out.
Pack your lunch. If you bring your lunch to work, you may or may not already prepare it the night before. (You should.) This is especially important if you’re trying to fit your workout into your morning. Remember — the point is to eliminate the need for decisions, so you can focus on your workout.
Follow up with protein.
You’re going to be shredding, hard. If you don’t hit those muscles with some protein, and STAT – you’re going to be eating like Robert Baratheon all day (hopefully minus the #gobletsongoblets of wine). Have a plan for your protein
I’ve been loving hard-boiled eggs lately (learn how to hard-boil eggs here), because they’re easy to make ahead for the week and are full of protein. Here are some quick, energizing post-workout breakfast ideas:
- 2 hard-boiled eggs; sprouted grain toast with peanut butter and sliced strawberries or bananas
- 2 hard-boiled eggs; my nacho ordinary avocado toast
- protein shake with grass-fed whey protein, frozen banana, almond milk, chia seeds, and a spoon of almond/peanut butter
- oatmeal (or my favorite, love grown superoats) with almond/peanut butter, banana slices
- 5-minute veggie omelet
Lay all your supplies out so you’ll be ready to go after your workout.
Go the “heck” to sleep.
Of course, the most obvious way to become a morning workout person is to go to bed earlier. This is easier said than done (especially if, like me, you’re spending your nights catching up on Game of Thrones before the season 6 premiere THIS SUNDAY). By the old gods and the new, I swore to myself that I would find a way to accomplish both goals: Start Thrones earlier, limit to one episode. Got it.
I get to work between 9-9:30am each morning, with a 30 minute commute and about 45 minutes of breakfast/prep time. This means that I have to be in the gym by 7 in order to get a full workout and still have time to do my normal routine. Thank God, there’s a gym in my building — so if I have everything prepared the night before, I can roll out of bed and into the gym within a few minutes. I wake up at 6:50, put on my pre-determined outfit, swig some water, and get out the door (without looking back). Speaking of water…
Drink a tall glass of water before bed, and another right when you wake up, before you go to the gym. This will wake you up, and also give you the energy you need to start your workout.
Plan your moves.
Have some idea of what you want your workout to look like before you walk in the gym or step out to run. Set a goal: I’m going to run 2 miles in 20 minutes, or I’m going to do this 15-minute HIIT workout with more weight and go really slowly so I tone my MAH-sools (that’s Arnold or “muscles”). Don’t dilly dally. Set small goals, one day at a time, or you’ll get bored and quit. This might be what keeps you healthy for a long time! Commit.
I know, that’s kinda the point — but just like sleeping in on the weekends screws up your weekday sleep cycle, alternating between morning and night workouts can confuse your body (in a bad way). For one thing, it messes with your recovery time. Say you’re trying to work out every day: If you workout Tuesday morning, but sleep in Wednesday and work out at night, then what do you do on Thursday? Do you workout again in the morning, with less than 12 hours of recovery time? Or do you wait until Thursday night, and screw up your Friday morning workout too?
You see my point. If you want to commit to working out in the morning, try to establish a daily routine by sticking to it for a week. Remember, it takes 21 days to form a habit — and as my friend Kreya said, “It gets harder before it gets easier.” (She would know — she says she would never go back to PM workouts. She runs or does yoga every morning. Skinny biznatch.) ❤
Make the most of all your free time!
Wow! Look at all the time you have now!
What are you going to do with it? Kreya says she motivates herself to stick to her morning routine by planning fun activities at night (like taking her dog to the park or trying a hole-in-the-wall international restaurant with her favorite co-worker). This way, she can’t skip the workout, or she’ll force herself to miss the activity to make up for it (lame!). Besides my *very intense* intramural sports, I’m spending my nights watching Thrones, cooking fun dinners, and taking a little me-time.
If you are binge-watching Game of Thrones right now, check out this workout that you can do as you watch.