I have never been a morning person. I love sleeping in late, hitting snooze, and setting my alarm for the last possible minute (I often set alarms for 7:18 – somehow that extra 3 minutes is really going to do something for me!). But if you read much about working out, time and time again you hear about how people who work out in the morning are more likely to workout consistently.
And it makes sense! How many times have you been planning to workout after work and something comes up? Friends want to meet for dinner, you forgot you have to go to the post office, or a million other different things. It’s so easy for other commitments to pop up throughout the day, so working out first thing ensures you always have time for it. Also, willpower gets weaker throughout the day – after a long (sometimes hard) day at work, sitting on the couch binge-watching Friends reruns may seem a lot more appealing than a workout.
But we know all this. We know we should switch to working out in the morning (especially if you’re in a busy time of life – and who isn’t?). But it doesn’t happen for a lot of us. I’ve wanted to become a morning exerciser for years, but I’ve never been able to really make it a habit. I’ve read countless articles and blog posts, and still never found a method that worked for me. However, I have finally become a morning workout person using my own method.
Step 1: Start your bedtime routine earlier
Actually going to bed earlier can be really hard if you’re still sleeping in until the same time. You may not be tired yet, but you can at least start your bedtime routine earlier. Every night, about an hour before I want to go to sleep, I stop watching TV, tidy up a bit, wash my face, brush my teeth, get into bed, and read. When I first started this process, I simply started that routine an hour before when I would need to go to sleep to get up in time to workout. Then I could either read more if I wasn’t tired yet (which was great), or sometimes I would naturally get tired and go to bed earlier.
Step 2: Get up early and do something fun!
Now that you’re hopefully going to bed earlier (or are at least conditioned to start going to bed earlier), getting up earlier won’t be quite as bad. The next step then, is to just do it. Start getting up at your ideal time – and no hitting snooze! But here’s the catch – wake up and do something you enjoy. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy working out; I usually do enjoy it. But at the beginning of this process, getting up and going straight to a tough workout just didn’t seem like how I wanted to start my morning. Waking up is already hard; doing a hard workout after that can seem impossible. So instead, I did something I enjoyed. I worked on the blog, I read, I enjoyed a cup of coffee, I had time to talk to my husband before I left for work. It was great. And I did this every day. Soon I didn’t have to make a decision when my alarm went off (“Do I have time to hit snooze?” “I didn’t sleep that well.. I might deserve to get a little more sleep…”). When my alarm goes off, I just get up. Without hitting snooze even once.
Step 3: Add the workout
After a few weeks of getting up early every weekday morning, I was ready to add in the workout. A key component of this for me was following a program (I started with p90x3). Following a program meant that I didn’t have to make any decisions when I woke up. I would just put on my workout clothes and hit the living room. If you workout at a gym, I would recommend having a routine for the week set up by Sunday night as well as having your bag packed for the gym before you go to bed. Reducing steps and decisions in the morning will keep your willpower intact for the workout itself.
A note that I would add here is that I strive to get up at the same time every day, even if I don’t end up working out. Even if I hurt a wrist and want to take a few days off or have a workout class in the afternoon planned with a friend, it has been crucial to my success to still get up at the same time. It keeps the alarm as a signal to wake up, get up, and get moving. This holds true even if I get to bed a little late or don’t sleep well – I can just go to bed a little earlier the next night if I’m tired. Deciding to hit snooze or to go back to bed will often make it harder for me to fall asleep at the proper time the next night, and this causes a cycle that can take all week to break! (My inspiration for getting up at the same time every day.)
For this system to work, or any plan to become a morning exerciser, going to bed earlier is vital. Getting enough sleep is what will enable you to get up earlier every single day. So don’t skip step 1! Not only will this step increase your likelihood of success, I also think that consistently getting enough sleep is actually more important than working out for our health. It gives us more energy, more focus, and I’m always less hungry when I’m well-rested!
There have been many failed attempts at waking up earlier and committing to morning workouts, and this has been life changing for me. It starts my mornings off on such a great foot and helps me carry that good energy throughout my day. I hope that this inspires you and helps you become a morning workout person too!
Any other morning workout people? What other strategies do you use to commit to your workouts? Or what other strategies have you heard of? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Like this post? Here are some others you might enjoy: