You Snooze, You Lose: 7 Tips for Working Out in the AM
It’s not an easy task to wake up in the morning for exercise before work. Staying under the warm covers in your dark room is much more appealing, especially now that many Americans are hiding from the frigid winter air thanks to our friendly neighbor, Mr. Polar Vortex. Though it is hard to peel yourself out of bed in the morning to make it to the gym, the yoga mat, or your own studio, there are many health benefits to morning workouts, and according to Health 24, 90 percent of regular exercisers happen to exercise in the morning.
Working out in the morning not only jump-starts your metabolism and keeps it elevated, it also regulates your appetite for the day and provides some much-needed pre-work energy thanks to adrenaline and endorphins. In addition, just in case you’re under the impression that your body would simply never get used to getting up at the crack of dawn, studies show that the human body is actually wired to eventually pick up on new routines. Health 24 says that if you exercise at about the same time every morning and generally wake up at about the same time on a regular basis, your body’s endocrine system and circadian rhythms adjust to that. A couple of hours before you awaken, your body begins to prepare for waking and exercise because it knows it’s about to happen. You’ll also be able to sleep better at night.
Still, even if you promise yourself at night that you will not snooze the alarm and will head to the gym before work, we all know that your mind may have different opinions in the morning. It’s easy to talk your way out of a workout when it’s pitch black and you’re huddled under the covers, but here are seven easy tricks to help you kick back that comforter and lace up your shoes. No one said that it was going to be easy, but these tips make waking up to exercise at least a little easier.
1. Set Out Your Gym Clothes The Night Before
One of the easiest things you can do that ensures you get your workout is set out your workout clothes out the night before, fill up your water bottle, and put your gym shoes right by your bedside. That ensures that your morning is seamless and quick, and all you have to do when you throw back the covers in the morning is blindly thrown on the clothes and lace up your sneakers. In addition, if you lay out your clothes the night before, not only do you eliminate the excuse that you have no clean gym clothes to wear, you also set yourself up for a guilt trip later if you should happen to snooze your way through your alarm, and then have to face the aforementioned gym clothes prepared the night before.
Of course, said guilt-trip is not completely necessary as you can always workout later, but still, if you see those clothes and feel guilty, the next time you want to skip a morning workout you might happen to remember the previous day’s regret and push yourself to get out of bed — because no one ever regrets a workout.
2. Don’t Shower the Night Before
Here’s another helpful tip for motivating yourself to get out of bed in the morning: make sure you don’t shower the night before. If at night you know you are going to need to get yourself out of bed in the morning to shower, regardless of whether or not you workout, it’s easier to convince yourself to get sweaty in the morning before you bathe, because you will have to do it either way.
3. Schedule a Gym Date
A third thing that you can do that ensures you get yourself to the gym in the morning is schedule a workout with a friend, or simply have a gym friend who promises to keep you accountable. You are much less likely to snooze your way through your workout if you know someone is at the gym waiting for you, because no one likes to admit that he or she skipped a workout simply because he couldn’t wake up. If your friend can do it, so can you.
Having a companion at the gym thus provides good motivation to keep you focused on your goals. Gym buddies not only provide friendly competition, they also service as spotting partners and friends you can talk to on the elliptical. Waking up in the morning to make it to the gym is hard, but a friend and good conversation can make it worth your while.
4. Have a Set Goal
Next, whether you do have weekly gym dates with a friend or just your treadmill, make sure you set specific time sensitive goals so you constantly feel like you’re working toward something when you wake up in the morning. Whether it is a 5K, a triathlon, or just a new weight you’re trying to lift, recognizing those goals and making a set schedule that ensures you meet them makes it easier to stick to your gym time in the morning.
For example, if you’re running a 5K in a month, map out your training runs on a calendar and make a mileage target for every day. That way, you understand that if you skip a day, your training will be thrown off, and that inconsistency isn’t worth the extra hour of sleep.
5. Take a Class
Next up: take a class. Group exercise has grown in popularity significantly as of late, and now more and more people are flooding to the gym everyday to take classes from certified instructors who know what they are doing and will instruct you what to do. It’s not always easy to push yourself to work hard in the morning, but energetic class teachers have no problem doing it, and their enthusiasm is usually contagious.
Luckily for typical 9-5ers, many gyms and studios offer classes that cater specifically to the working crew, and therefore schedule them bright and early, allowing time for post-workout showers and commutes. You can easily find yoga, spinning, cardio, and strength training classes that start at 5 a.m. and are filled to the brim, and these avid gym goers likely follow the mantra, “Work out early before your body knows what it’s doing.”
6. Ease into Morning Exercise
Speaking of training before your body understands what it is doing, if you are just beginning to exercise in the morning, make sure you ease yourself into the routine and map out workouts that don’t require 100 percent intensity at the beginning. Even if your first few morning are spent walking on the treadmill or slowly riding the bike, consider it an accomplishment that you got yourself to the gym in the morning, vow to remember that post-exercise high, and then slowly increase the intensity of your workouts.
Even once you are adjusted and you are ready to map out long runs for the morning or schedule intense lifting sessions, make sure you start out slow in the morning and allow your body to wake up. It’s hard for anyone to not snooze the alarm when they know they have their 8-mile run ahead of them; however, taking it step by step and only concentrating on the 5-minute walking warm up you have in front of you will make any task sound less daunting.
7. Reward Yourself
The last thing you can implement that will hopefully pull you out of bed in the morning is a rewards system. Of course, you can’t reward every morning workout with a breakfast treat or extra coffee because those things will eventually add up, not to mention will undo all your hard work. However, if you are just easing in to a morning workout routine, give yourself some slack and dull the initial pain of the first few alarms by bribing yourself with a good (protein-packed) breakfast following the gym, or a 20-minute guilt-free nap after work.
Once you’ve adjusted to the routine, dial back on the rewards and make it an ongoing, albeit more contained system. If you completed all of your morning workouts as of Friday, make it a weekly tradition to treat yourself a specialty morning beverage on your way to work. Or, if by Saturday you are happy with your previous week’s workouts, have breakfast in bed. Don’t reward yourself if you slept through them.
Simple things like weekly rewards can provide easy motivation to meet your goals and wake up in the morning, and reaping the benefits will make success taste that much more sweet.