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5 Tips For Great Early Morning Workouts

If we didn’t prioritize our lives, we would never get anything done; work, family, and financial stability often trump our personal health and leisure.

Don’t let a late workday or long meeting interfere with your workout: consider exercise in the morning to take care of your health & well-being first thing, while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Here are 5 tips to improve your early morning workouts, along with the benefits of early morning workouts, and a quick 30 minute workout you can do with no equipment.

Why Early Morning Workouts Are Great

Exercise in the morning provides a wide range of benefits that offer physical and mental gratification:
Strength training exercise can boost metabolism for up to 48 hours so doing your workout in the AM is a great way to jumpstart your metabolism. 1 This elevated metabolism will ensure you are burning calories throughout the day.

Exercise also promotes endorphins in the brain, which can elevate your mood and start your day off on a positive note. 2 More so, your sense of accomplishment from knowing you have your workout done before you even start your workday will elevate your mood and keep you from stressing over it later if something unexpected arises. According to research, exercise significantly increases mental capacity and exercising in the A.M. can allow you to harness that increased brainpower.

5 Tips For Better Early Morning Workouts

1. Pre-Plan Your Pre-Workout Meal

If you find that you have more energy eating something before your workout, planning your pre-workout meal the night before can be helpful. Research has shown more calories tend to be burned with some fuel in your body before a workout (See: Should I Workout On An Empty Stomach?). However, each individual knows his own body best, so finding out what works best for you is essential.

Eating a small to medium sized meal may provide ample energy for your workout without the bloated feeling that comes with larger meals that can affect performance. A great way to kick start your daily meal plan is to make a shake the night before. A healthy pre-made smoothie is versatile and can provide ample fuel to power you through a workout.

Suggested ingredients:
• Plain Greek yogurt
• Berries
• Chia seeds,
• Whey protein
• Almond Milk

2. Go To Bed Earlier

Human sleep cycles follow a daily cycle called circadian rhythms. Using an alarm clock, establishing meal times, and even routine workout times are all cues that reset our rhythms. People who consistently exercise in the morning teach their body to be most ready for exercise at that time of day.

Go to bed 30-45 minutes earlier so you can stay on your normal sleep schedule. This will ensure the 30-45 minutes it will take you to get your warmup and workout done in the morning won’t come at the expense of adequate rest.

Research also suggests that morning exercise improves sleep so getting into a good routine of an earlier bed time might not be an issue. 3 Exercise in the morning can help to set the body clock for a day of activity and a night of sleep, while exercise at night can potentially push back the sleep part of the sleep-wake cycle. In one recent experiment women who exercised in the morning averaged a 70% better nights sleep versus non exercisers.

3. Set Everything Up The Night Before

Whether its pushup blocks, a jump rope, bands, or your workout attire, make sure everything is laid out before you go to bed so you won’t be scrambling the next morning. This will save you crucial moments and give yourself the peace of mind that you don’t have to rush your workout. Knowing you have made sufficient preparations will ensure a worry free sleep and stress free morning.

Another great option is to create a new playlist the night before or start your workout with a new song you really enjoy and look forward to hearing. This will help you get out of bed in the morning and get those energy levels fired up early in the morning.

4. Perform A Longer Warm-Up

Your body temperature is naturally lower in the morning and the last thing you want to do is open yourself up for injury. When you begin to exercise, your body undergoes a number of changes such as an increased blood flow, increase respiration rate, and an increased amount of oxygen delivered to muscle cells. In order to ensure these bodily changes respond properly you should gradually prepare your body by performing an adequate warm-up.

Benefits of a solid warm-up:

  • Prepares your nervous system for the impending exertion of exercise
  • Heightens your mental acuity
  • Loosens up your joints and muscles for the prevention of injury
  • Allows your heart to gradually adjust to the increased activity, thereby increasing the blood flow and sending the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients to your body’s cells.
  • Perform at least 5-10 minutes of muscle activation and dynamic flexibility movements to get your blood pumping and mentally prepared for you morning workout.

    5. Start With Exercises You Enjoy And Recruit A Partner

    You’ll be more likely to get out of bed and into your workout if you perform exercises you enjoy. Whether it’s a brisk run, yoga sessions, or a bike ride, perform a morning workout you appreciate to ensure you will stick to a routine and not come to dread that morning alarm. Recruiting a partner can also help with consistency. A pre-arranged workout time with a partner will force you out of bed and take the option of “going back to sleep” out of the equation completely.

    Sample 30-Minute Early Morning Workout

    The following workout should take you only 30 minutes and require no equipment. It’s a great option if you are on the road on a business trip, or don’t have time to run to the gym.

    Warmup (5-10 minutes)
    Warmup 1: 2 set of 15 reps Windmills

    Warmup 2: 2 set of 15 reps back bridge

    Warmup 3: 2 set of 15 reps pushup planks

    Warm up 4: 2- 3 minutes of jump rope

    Full Body Bodyweight Circuit (16-24 minutes)

    Perform 30 seconds of each exercise with no rest in between. Rest for 2-3 minutes after each round of the circuit. Complete 3-4 rounds, which should take around 16-24 minutes.
    Exercise 1: Squat Jumps

    Exercise 2: Push Up With One Leg Elevated

    Exercise 3: Mountain Climbers

    Exercise 4: Rotating Side Plank

    Exercise 5: Jumping Jacks

    I hope these tips will help you create a morning workout that helps you stay fit, lean, and stress-free. Let us know which exercises work best for you and if you have any tips to share to improve your early morning workouts!

    Show 3 References

    1. Williamson DL, Kirwan JP. A single bout of concentric resistance exercise increases basal metabolic rate 48 hours after exercise in healthy 59-77-year-old men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1997;52(6):M352-5.
    2. Ernst C, Olson AK, Pinel JP, Lam RW, Christie BR. Antidepressant effects of exercise: evidence for an adult-neurogenesis hypothesis?. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2006;31(2):84-92.
    3. Atkinson G, Fullick S, Grindey C, Maclaren D. Exercise, energy balance and the shift worker. Sports Med. 2008;38(8):671-85.


    • Mike DiCarlo says:

      Ever since booing a new gym back in July I've been getting up at 430am to get to the gym by 5, workout till 630, shower and to work at 7. I never was a morning person but now I'm hooked and I've never felt better. Its so .nice to get it out of the way early.

    • Priscilla L. Martin says:

      Hello Marc. Nice article. Thank you for sharing.

    • Kevin Deeth says:

      @carlos I think it depends on your fitness goals and your ability to digest food. If you notice you feel bloated when you are working out than that is probably a good indication to make a smaller smoothie or wait a bit longer. I think it is very individual-based so trial and error is key. As a general answer I would try to wait 20-30 minutes before exercise.

    • Kevin Deeth says:

      @mike I definitely agree with your comment. I found it hard for the first few weeks but after that your body clock readjusts and it becomes routine.

    • Carlos says:

      Thanks Kevin,
      So in that case would you think I could wake up let's say 6:30 am, have the shake go to bed for a quick snap and wake up at 7:00 am and workout?
      Thank you.

    • August says:

      Carlos, do you really need a smoothie? Beware of using food as a mental stimulus rather than a physical one. It was only after I realized the distinction between the two that I reached my "lean" goals. Half a banana is enough to get me through a 3 mile run in the morning.

    • Kevin Deeth says:

      @ Carlos-to be honest I would try and stay awake to give your body/mind a chance to wake up before jumping in to exercise and warm up. Perhaps you could use the 25 minutes post-shake to prepare your breakfast for after your workout or get your things ready for work.

    • Carlos says:

      So you say I should have a half of a fruit before my am workout and after the workout have my regular breakfast?

    • Ryan says:

      I have heard mixed responses to this question so I'm curious how you will answer this, so....

      Do you burn more calories working out first thing in the morning, compared, to say late afternoon (post work / 5:30 p.m.).

      I have heard yes and as much as 20-30% more calories, if you work out first thing. And I have heard it makes no difference. Thoughts?

    • Shatter says:

      Really enjoyed this article. Lots of great points that can help contribute to great morning workouts.

      • Kristin says:

        Really glad you enjoyed it!
        -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor