You're well-aware of the benefits of morning exercise—it gives your metabolism a boost, helps you stay in a consistent routine and gets your day off to a healthy start. But despite your best efforts, this morning workout thing just isn't happening. You're not the type whose feet hit the floor bursting with energy and ready to get the day going. Mornings are not now, nor have they ever been your most productive time of day, and past attempts to convert to a morning exerciser have been met with frustration and exhaustion.
Does this mean that if you have any chance of creating a regular routine, you'll have to find space in your day sometime after the clock strikes noon? Not necessarily. Lots of people who never thought it was possible have found a way to make exercise a regular part of their morning routine. For some, the secret has been to prep the night before so the morning routine is as smooth and easy as possible. For others, weaning themselves off of the snooze button and getting to bed earlier has made getting up less difficult. Here's something to keep in mind: Most morning exercisers don't do it because they are bursting with energy as soon as the alarm goes off. They do it because they remember what it feels like to finish a morning workout and feel that sense of accomplishment. Feeling good about yourself will always drive you to come back for more.
Maybe part of your problem has been that the activities you pick aren't ideal for someone who doesn't hit their stride until later in the day. Some exercises are better suited to ease you into the day, so consider trying a few of these to convert you into the morning exerciser you've always dreamed of becoming.
The calming atmosphere that goes hand-in-hand with most types of yoga is the ideal environment for anyone just rolling out of bed. An early morning session can provide focus and mental clarity, while reducing stress and giving you a burst of energy to start your day. Many yoga studios offer early morning classes, or check out the wide variety of options on YouTube if the idea of leaving your home so early is a deal-breaker. Yoga improves flexibility, strength and can even help with pain management—also known as the perfect way to start the day.
If a floor routine is what it takes to trick your mind into thinking you're still in bed, then maybe a core workout is what you need. Planks, crunches, Supermans and pendulums can all be done with little movement and in a (mostly) relaxed position. Not only does a strong core help improve posture and balance, but it also makes it easier to perform everyday activities like bending down to tie your shoes or sitting down in a chair. Gain strength in a low-key way first thing in the morning by picking three to four abdominal-focused moves to create your own circuit.
For many, the biggest hurdle of a morning workout is the idea of getting ready to go out and face the world, driving to the gym and waiting for a class to begin. The bleary eyes on top of having to set the alarm even earlier to account for transportation time is all a non-morning person needs to talk themselves out of attempting an early sweat. Eliminate every excuse with a home workout. These days, you can find thousands of varied at-home options, whether it's videos online, a subscription-based workout app or a routine you develop all on your own using tools such as a resistance band and jump rope. Resist the urge to hit the snooze, roll out of bed, spend five minutes changing your clothes and brushing your teeth, and you're ready to begin.
Although it's a gentle form of exercise to help ease into your morning, don't be fooled into thinking that Pilates is an easy workout. Pilates is a challenging form of exercise that engages your core to improve posture, body awareness and muscular endurance. It focuses on proper breathing and spinal alignment, making it an ideal way to get your mind and body prepared for the day's activities. Who wouldn't benefit from taking time for a few calming breaths and a progressive stretch as the day begins? If you're looking for an alternative to jumping out of bed and heading out for a joint-pounding run, Pilates might be the burn that works for you.
If you can't muster the energy for a heart-pounding cardio workout first thing in the morning, strength training is a good alternative. A traditional strength training routine (i.e. one that doesn't involve a lot of jumping or other explosive movements) can slowly wake up the body, one muscle group at a time. Try compound movements like a squat with overhead press or lunge with dumbbell curls to work various muscle groups at once, thereby saving precious morning time while effectively getting the blood flowing to both the upper and lower body quickly.
When the only thing you want to do is hit the snooze button or curl up with a cup of coffee, the idea of a 45-minute workout is likely more than your brain can process. A better strategy might be to start with something small, even if the goal is to eventually progress into longer morning workouts. Can you commit to just 10 to 15 minutes? Most people can get up 10 minutes earlier without a huge amount of protesting from the brain or body. A short workout is just what you need to get a boost of energy and slowly ease into a morning workout routine.
While it's true that a home workout is better for some people because it's easily accessible, it can also be easier to skip it because no one is watching. If you're great at talking yourself out of early mornings, Laura Arndt, CEO of Matriarc suggests trying a live class at the gym with other people. "If you can find an exercise class that is early in the morning and you enjoy, having a set time you need to arrive and a workout mapped out for you is a good idea. You know exactly when you have to be there and [you know] that you’re also going to get a full workout in," she explains. "People don’t usually quit during an exercise class, so you’re more likely to push yourself a bit harder if there are other people around and an instructor there to guide you." For anyone who really struggles with accountability, sometimes finding a class that charges a no-show fee can be just the impetus needed to get up and get there. After all, who wants to waste their hard-earned money?
When you find activities you enjoy, you're more likely to stick with them long-term. If you love to run, though, why is it so difficult to get motivated to wake up and head out sometimes? One reason could be a lack of proper warmup—going right from sleeping to sprinting doesn't sound appealing to even the most seasoned morning exerciser. Steven Mack, owner of Simple Solutions Fitness stresses the need for a good warmup to ramp up the pace of your workout, especially if you're on a mission to become an early exerciser. "If you roll out of bed first thing in the morning, you might feel a little stiff and groggy," he explains. "If you're about to exercise in the morning, the warmup is key because it will elevate your body temperature and help keep you from injuring any stiff areas. You can likely do just about anything if you spend enough time warming up." A good warmup can be done in five to 10 minutes with just a few dynamic stretches focused on the muscles you’re planning to work. A runner, for example, would follow this recommended routine from Mack: "Try bodyweight lunges for eight to 12 reps on each leg, a dynamic ankle or calf stretch on the ground or using the wall as a support, and a few ground-based or standing glute exercises."If packing your bag the night before, sleeping in your workout clothes, calling a buddy to meet you or posting your plans on social media haven't provided enough motivation to get out of bed for a morning workout, perhaps it's the type of workout that's holding you back. Don't be afraid to experiment with different kinds of activities to find something your body will tolerate at the crack of dawn. Although you might never love it, you'll find that, over time, your body gets used to exercising first thing and it comes to expect the burst of energy a morning workout provides.