It’s often said the best time of day to workout is the time you’ll stick to. If that’s after a long day in the office, great! If that’s midway through the day, no problem, but often things outside our control can derail our efforts and sometimes force us to miss our workouts (think family commitments or that piece of work that takes a lot longer than expected).
If you’re prone to getting held up and having to skip that all important workout, then maybe training in the morning is the way forward for you, especially because studies have noted additional benefits to pre-breakfast exercise, such as greater fat loss. That being said, it’s can be difficult to set your alarm early to kick off the day with a workout, so that’s why I’ve put together these
- Prep everything the night before
For those who aren’t morning people, the thought of having to get up early and go for a training session can be a bit much. You’re tired, sleepy and just want to stay in bed. This means prepping everything the night before can make a real difference. If it’s all laid out for you, you don’t have to spend time or energy figuring out what to wear and can instead focus on getting the job done. Better yet, why not get your work clothes sorted too? Or that pre-workout snack? The point is to have as little delay as possible and fewer decisions.
- Get a good night sleep
While prepping everything the night before might make you think staying up a little longer is okay, opt for more sleep instead, says Dr. Nate Watson, an advisory board member at SleepScore Labs. People need between 7–9 hours of sleep per night, and focusing on enough sleep helps you wake up more refreshed and ready to exercise in the morning. As part of sleeping better, skip the night snacks, Dr. Watson says. You don’t need to have a grumbling stomach, but you should stop eating and drinking within two hours of bed, to minimize the possibility of sleep disruption, he notes.
- Have a clearly defined goal
When someone mentions ‘goal setting’ some people can switch off, but having a clearly defined goal that identifies exactly what it is you to achieve is essential to making progress says Dr. David Greuner, head physician at NYC Surgical Associates. He notes that habits are easier to set, and discipline is more quickly generated, by knowing what your morning will bring.
“Your brain likes to know what’s ahead, it actually craves routine,” he says. “As you get into a habit, your brain can anticipate what’s ahead, and that makes it easier to stay on track.” That means you should write down your goal in the evening for the next day, so you wake up ready to reach that daily win.
- Have a plan B (just in case)
‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray’. I have no idea who said that, but you can have everything laid out and then something happens. Maybe the class you are attending is cancelled, or the weather turns for the very worse. Either way, having an idea of what you will do instead will help you stay on track, even life throws it’s best at you.
- Take a moment to relax
Take at least a few minutes to sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine the best morning workout possible, suggests performance coach Barbara Cox, PhD. She notes that this technique helps you “feel” a sense of accomplishment and can be a huge motivational push. “Many of my clients have improved their sports performance considerably through guided visualization,” says Cox. “If you can get into a relaxed brainwave state, called an alpha state, and create a vision of what you want to accomplish, you can ‘feel’ what it’s like to have it occur.”
- Spice up your alarm
Getting ready to work out can happen from the second you wake up, suggests Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, an ER physician and director of clinical strategy at digital health company Sharecare.
“Set your alarm to play music you love,” she advises. “Wake up to tunes that are energizing and continue that with a great playlist to listen to while you work out. Research has shown that playing upbeat music not only increases your performance during the workout, but makes it seem more enjoyable.”
- Be your number one fan
Words like “habit” and “discipline” can make morning workouts feel like one more chore you need to push through in order to feel happy about them being done. But take some time to change your perspective and your self-talk, suggests Taylor Jacobson, founder and CEO of Focusmate, a developer of productivity and anti-procrastination software.
“When you say, ‘I’m a procrastinator,’ you strengthen that neural pathway, and make it easier at relating to yourself in that way,” he says. “Instead, tell yourself a different story, and embrace the benefits of routine. That mindset will serve you well, not just with exercising in the morning, but throughout the rest of your day.”