As a busy professional with a job in the federal government, a side hustle, and a social life, I’ve had to get serious about setting up a morning routine that prioritizes fitness.
Over the years, I’ve adopted a schedule of early morning workouts, as I’ve found the only consistently free time I have is in the early morning.
For many, choosing to wake up before the crack of dawn sounds crazy.
It wasn’t easy at first, but my morning workout routine has been a game changer for me. I get to start the day with energy and I have a free evening to do all the cool things on my calendar.
Studies show working out first thing in the morning leads to more energy, healthier food choices, and better sleep. What’s not to love?
But because the hardest part is getting started, here are five tips to make that morning workout a reality … and eventually a routine.
Do a sprint prep
Handle morning tasks in the last thirty minutes before going to bed. Set out the coffee mug, pack the gym bag, and iron the work suit. When the alarm sounds, get up and follow a streamlined routine that minimizes the steps between you and the gym. If you can stand it, avoid email in the morning. No need to create more distractions or delays.
Set multiple alarms
The snooze button implies a reluctant start of the day, and the quality of sleep for those few extra minutes is usually poor. Instead, set two alarms – one bedside, and one across the room.
Physically getting out of the bed, moving around, and turning on the lights (assuming your partner isn’t easily disturbed) reduces the temptation to retreat back to slumber.
Find an accountability partner
Grab a workout buddy — friend, neighbor, spouse, fellow gym-goer– who will text, call, or pound on your door to get you up and out.
Or, join a workout meet-up group or online community. I launched a D.C. based boot camp a few years ago, that provides a community for busy young professionals looking to get fit. You can learn more about it here. However, you choose to get that extra support, finding a community will give you an extra push to stay consistent and committed to your morning workouts.
Give yourself a break
Even AM workout warriors need a break. If you stayed up late finishing a slide deck or catching up on Scandal, give yourself a day to sleep in every once in a while. No big deal. Just get right back to the routine the next morning.
Do it gradually
Think gradual steps as part of a long-term lifestyle change. To start, try waking up 10 minutes earlier than normal, putting on your gym clothes, and just stretching.
A few weeks later when you’ve ingrained the new 10-minute routine into your system, set your alarm 10 additional minutes earlier to change, stretch, and walk or jog around the block. Fast forward a few months and you’ll be up with enough time to do a 45-minute cardio and strength routine.
Waking up before the crack of dawn isn’t for everyone, but carving out even a few minutes for an AM sweat session in the next few days will give you a feeling of strength, accomplishment, and sustained energy. Strong and sweaty morning workout? Done. Up next? Conquer your day.