Some people are just born for the mornings. They wake up fresh and ready to go, bursting with energy. For these individuals, morning workouts are just a natural part of life. For the rest of humanity, it might be more of a struggle. The unfortunate fact, however, is that morning people may just have stumbled on something great. While there is no wrong time of the day to workout, research suggests that people who regularly exercise in the morning are statistically more like to stick to their routine than those who fit it in later in the day. The prevailing theory is that exercising first thing in the morning allows you to get it out of the way before all of your time and attention gets snatched away by issues that pop up during the day.
So, then, assuming that you are not a natural-born morning person, how can you increase your chances of success by starting a morning workout routine?
The first thing that needs to be clarified is that you should absolutely, under no circumstances, lose sleep in order to workout. You may be tempted to go to bed at your normal late hour and still try to drag yourself to the gym at 6am but this will probably do more harm than good.
Of course, your immediate workout performance will suffer simply because you did not give your body enough rest. In the long-term, however, your lack of sleep could actually make your morning workouts counterproductive. Studies have found that people who do not get an adequate amount of sleep have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone decreases your immune function, slows your metabolism and can cause your body to store excess fat – especially around your abdomen. These negative effects would be bad enough for anyone but could be even worse for exercises since a solid workout can spike your cortisol levels as well.
So, before you start trying to exercise bright and early, make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Everyone’s Favorite Stimulant
Coffee is very likely part of your morning routine. Somehow, though, the classic drink has gotten a bad reputation in health and fitness circles. The truth is that, handled properly, the caffeine contained in coffee can actually improve your athletic performance. So there’s no reason to skip it.
You should be careful, though, when it comes to timing. Drinking anything – especially coffee – too soon before your workouts can cause some serious digestive stress during the activity. Plus, the stimulant takes time to actually work. To avoid this, give yourself at least 30 minutes for your morning cup to settle in your stomach before heading out.
Find Something You Love
Getting up early and throwing yourself into a physically (and mentally) demanding activity is hard enough. Things just get worse if that activity is not something that you enjoy. Instead, find something that you genuinely love to do so that you will look forward to these morning workouts.
Along the same lines, do what you can to keep things interesting. Keep track of your progress and set solid, challenging goals. You may also consider cross training to switch things up from time to time. Not only will this help you be more excited to workout, it will help you avoid overuse injuries.
Keep your options open by reading more about fitness to learn some other things you can try.