I’m a morning gym gal. Monday through Friday it’s me and the baby boomers at the gym when the doors open at 5am. I am NOT a morning person. If I had my choice, I would totally be a sleep until 10am and then start my workday at noon until 9pm. But alas, that isn’t realistic. I used to try to hit the gym after work but I found more often than not I would skip it after a long or tiring day. I would skip it if I had a headache or didn’t feel good. Or I would get there and it would be so crowded that I would be dueling for dumbbells and sprinting to grab a treadmill as soon as someone stepped off. Finally, I’d had enough and decided it was the morning or nothing. SO the morning it is.
One of the things I see all the time and get asked often is HOW to do you actually get yourself up in the morning to head to the gym? A lot of people want to get in that early morning workout. A lot of people have plans to do it, but than that alarm clock goes off, the bed is cozy warm and your brain tells you, but if you stay here you can be warm and cozy for another hour. Been there. Done that. But now I’m over it. Here’s how…
How To Actually Work Out in the Morning:
Prep the Night Before.
I prepare everything the night before. I lay out my gym clothes in a neat pile. I pack my gym bag with everything I’ll need at the gym (resistance bands, spin shoes, headphones, water bottle, towel, etc…) and put it by the door so I can just grab it and go. I even have my after-gym, work-day outfit picked out and packed in the bag. Prepping the night before takes all the guess work and mental space out of the equation when you are exhausted and just don’t have the ability to think about what to wear and what to pack.
Move the Alarm Away from Your Bed.
Put your alarm someplace that will force you to physically get out of bed to turn it off. You are more likely to make it to the gym if you had to get up to turn off that annoying sound. When all you need to do is roll over to make it stop, it’s that much harder to actually make it out of bed.
If you use your phone as an alarm, this one is even harder, but no less important. It’s tempting to have the phone right next to us while we sleep and be one it as we are falling asleep. But you aren’t getting good rest if you are on it just before trying to fall asleep, and moving it away from arm’s reach can also help cut that dependency we all have on that little device.
Go to Bed at a Reasonable Time.
If you aren’t giving your body what it needs in terms of sleep it’s going to be that much harder to convince your body it wants the gym. Set at alarm to tell you it is time to go to bed and listen to that alarm. Give your body the 7-8 hours it needs to help you recharge and refuel. Give it to your body every night, when you are able. Sure I might be a little old lady, but I fight to be in bed by 8:30pm so that when the alarm goes off at 4:30 I will have gotten nearly 8 hours of sleep. Hitting the gym consistently on a few hours of sleep is not sustainable.
Don’t Think. Just Do.
A habit is ultimately something we do automatically, it doesn’t take thought, it just happens. Hopefully you don’t think about brushing your teeth in the morning, you just do it. And you probably do it at a specific time and place in your morning routine. Hitting the gym can be the same. When that alarm goes off don’t give your head time to think about whether you want to go or not. Don’t debate the finer points of the gym. Don’t consider if maybe you could possibly fit it in at another point in your day. Just do it. (I guess Nike was right.)
As part of that nigh-before prep, the coffee pot is set and ready to brew a little before my alarm goes off. That way, as soon as I’ve changed into my workout clothing I can pour a cup of coffee and sip it as a I wake up, or even sip it on my way to the gym. A little coffee can help kick your workout into gear, but refrain from dumping a bunch of milk and sugar into the mix. Nobody wants GI track problems while getting your sweat on. I recommend a little food too, but not too much so that you are feeling weighed down. Personally, I have a couple pieces of organic lunch meat or a piece of fruit.
Plot Out Your Workout Ahead of Time.
Take the guess work out of the morning routine, especially if you are one of those people whose brain is more sluggish in the morning. I save a couple different options to my list of ‘Tomorrow’ workouts on Aaptiv. That way when I get to the gym, I just need to open the app, click the workout list and press play. Easy. Not much thought needed.
Do it For Another.
Whether this is an accountability buddy – who drags your butt out of bed just as you do for that person – or just a person you are doing the workout for, having another in mind while hitting the gym can be a great way to get it done. I read this great article in the New York Times around the New Year that said often we don’t keep New Years resolutions because the human person only has so much grit and strength of will. Those more likely to keep a resolution are people who are doing it with another. Right now, I’m killing the workouts at the gym for my sister Emily and her fight against Scleroderma. That’s a pretty powerful motivator – even more powerful than wanting to drop pounds or buy smaller clothes.
Keep It Short.
Let’s be honest, no matter the time of day, we don’t have a lot of time to spend in the gym pumping iron. Nor do we need to spend hours there. It’s amazing to me how many minutes you can actually get in and how you can see results from spending less than an hour at the gym each morning. I used to be of the opinion that if I couldn’t be at the gym for over an hour, it wasn’t worth the time. That meant I ended up not working out more often than I did because often I couldn’t find a solid hour to spend on the gym floor getting my sweat on. Finally I ditched that mentality and it’s made a huge difference!
For my schedule, I have about 45 minutes total for a weekday workout – sometimes less depending on if I have to wash my hair that morning. This means I usually plan a 30-45 minute workout Monday-Friday, and then shoot for something a little longer on the weekends, if I have the time. Last week, that plan meant I got in a total of 300 minutes of workout time. 300 MINUTES!! 300 minutes when 5 days I never worked out for longer than 45 minutes. Consistency in going every day, even if you can only get in a short workout, is worth it. Plus it builds the habit, making it easier to get up and get going.
Track Your Progress.
Maybe this is just me, but I love tracking my progress – whether it is on an app like Map My Run, which will let me see all the workouts I logged, or on a physical calendar in which I jot down what I did every day. I used to keep a dry erase calendar in my room in which I tracked my workouts that month to see what weeks were good and where I fell off the work out wagon. I also keep track of my measurements on a note in my phone, to see the small changes that are taking place in my body. I skip the scale because muscle weighs more than fat and it has always ended up frustrating me more than it excites me to see that number.
Do you have other suggestions? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment or share your thoughts on social media!