Some say they like to exercise in the morning to get it out of the way, but even those who love afternoon trips to the gym can reap major benefits by pushing their workouts ahead a few hours. The early risers enjoy a revved up metabolism, mental sharpness and a feeling of accomplishment—all of which can last for the rest of the day.
If you’re ready to switch your nightly workouts to morning sweat sessions, then take a look at some of these tricks to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Stating your intention is the first step to following through on a plan. When you lay out your clothes the night before, of course you are relieving yourself of morning outfit decisions, but you are also telling yourself that you will go to the gym. Preparing your mind and body for a morning workout several hours in advance increases the likelihood you’ll actually go work out.
The go-to solution for sleepy mornings can also pep you up for an early workout. Many studies have shown that black coffee is not only safe to consume before working out, but that it also comes with a few benefits like helping to accelerate weight loss, allowing you to train longer and even decreasing muscle pain.
Record your workouts as appointments in your calendar and stick to them as you would with any important meeting. Should you need to miss a day for some reason, write down why—if it becomes a trend you can look back on what has caused you to miss your morning workouts and then change the pattern.
It’s easy to fall victim to the snooze button when it’s within arm’s reach. Placing your alarm clock across the room will ensure you get out of bed and walk over to it—once you’re up it’s much easier to stay that way.
Natural light tells your body it’s time to wake up and just a few minutes of sunlight can go a long way. Simple tricks like opening your shades and turning your bed to face the rising sun or standing by the window for a bit will help your body know that it’s time to get moving. If you’re getting up before the sun, experts suggest investing in a light box.
Those of us who aren’t morning people (yet) will shudder at the thought of getting up even earlier than we already do. If you have trouble waking up now, an earlier time might seem impossible, but by gradually waking up a few minutes earlier each day, you’ll slowly train your body instead of shocking it suddenly with a early wake up time.
This one is a no-brainer but it’s something that so many people struggle with—some of us just can’t “turn it off” at night and it’s affecting our ability to get up in the morning. Make a conscious effort to turn off all electronics and adapt a calming bedtime routine at a reasonable hour and the morning will be much more pleasant.
Setting a time and sticking to it can be hard when you’re the only one who suffers the consequences of a missed workout. If you have a friend counting on you to be at the gym by 6 a.m., you’re much more likely to show up. No one wants to be the one sleeping in and possibly derailing their friend’s fitness plans, set a time and you’ll look forward to seeing your buddy bright and early.
Ed Gober, Vice President of Fitness at New York Health and Racquet Club says there’s a great sense of community among members who work out in the morning.
“We see that the people who train in the morning are always the most consistent people in the facility. They have the most frequency of check-ins because those are the people who are really keyed in on wellness,” he said. “There’s a great sense of community especially with our group exercises classes...You know the person next to you because they’re there at 7 a.m. with you every day. It’s that ‘we’re all in this together' mindset—and it’s motivating.”
A morning meal sets the tone for the day and it can make or break your early workout. You might want a small healthy snack before the gym, but afterward make time for a healthy breakfast. Choose something you enjoy eating as a reward for getting up early and working hard, but make sure that food will help with your fitness goals. Think complex carbs and lots of protein—yogurt, oatmeal, nuts, fruit and egg whites are all great choices.
It’s hard to look forward to anything besides your warm bed early in the morning, don’t make it harder by planning a grueling workout of sprints and burpees—pick something you love. Whether you have a favorite fitness class or just really love running outside, be sure to make that the focus, at least until you get the hang of waking up for early workouts.