For the past year or so, my InstaStories have been littered with snapshots of me at the gym, on a yoga mat, or heading to a fitness class. More often than not, these behind-the-scenes peeks into my day—featuring a sweaty, crazy-haired, make-up free me—are snapped between 5 and 6:30 am. I’m officially an early morning fitness geek!
Believe it or not, I haven’t always been an early riser…and waking up with grace is still an area of growth for me! But starting my day early has paid off in more ways than I can count. I mean, at the very minimum, it feels like I have more “me time” each day, which has proven invaluable.
And while committing to pre-sunrise workouts can be really intimidating, they are absolutely attainable with a bit of preparation! So whether you’re completely sold on the benefits of being a morning person (like me) or just want to switch things up for a while, here’s my advice on becoming an early morning fitness star!
1) Set your alarms (and get up)!
First things first, figure out what it’s going to take to get you up each day. Are you the single-alarm-and-I’m-up type, or do you need a bit more nudging? Are peaceful chimes enough to rouse you, or do you need a southern rap anthem to get it moving?
Before rolling out your new fitness schedule, test the waters for a few days to determine what works best for you. Play around with different times, combinations, and strategies and figure out what you respond to best. Once you know what wakes you up, practice STANDING UP out of bed before turning your alarm off.
Pro Tip: Think about your goal wake-up time and scaffold that into your morning routine in 10-15 minute increments.
Want to push your normal 6:15am wake-up back to 5:00am?
Start by moving your alarm up to 6:00am for a day or two. Then move to 5:45am, etc.
2) Respect your exhaustion!
I’ll admit that I struggle in this area…but here goes. If you want to wake up early, go to bed on time! It may seem obvious but waking up is easiest when you’re rested—and you’ll have your best workouts when you’re energized.
Getting enough sleep the night before an early gym date makes all the difference when you’re halfway through your workday. Set yourself up for success and head to bed at a reasonable hour!
Pro Tip: Don’t save important tasks (like laundry or cooking dinner) for the late evening—they can be a time suck. And when possible, avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks after 12pm each day!
3) Know your “Why”s
When you’re waking up before sunrise to hit the gym, it’s important to be rooted in your “Why”s. Why is working out a priority for you? Why are you choosing to do it so early? Why is being consistent so crucial?
Having answers to the foundational questions driving you to hit the gym will make it much easier to drag yourself out of bed and into the gym each morning.
Pro Tip: Write your “Why”s down on a few Post-It notes and slap them on your mirror, your computer, your nightstand—anywhere you can look when you need a reminder. These notes can act like promises to yourself and an easy way to hold yourself accountable to your goals when you’d rather sleep in.
4) Have a plan
When it comes to working out, it’s true what they say—failing to plan is planning to fail (or can make disappointing yourself really easy, at least). There’s nothing worse than dragging yourself to the gym, only to realize you have no clue what to do once you get there! And the feelings of uncertainty and insecurity that can come from those moments can be the same feelings that lead to impostor syndrome and keep you out of the gym all together!
Just like you’d organize yourself when studying for a test or planning a trip, decide what you want to work on / tackle before you set out for your workout! Designate Tuesdays as “Arm Day”, Wednesdays as “Cardio Madness”, etc. Assign a specific workout group to your days of the week to bring more clarity to your efforts.
Pro Tip: Are unstructured, free-gym style workouts not your thing? Sign up for classes (and create a schedule)! I use ClassPass each month, which gives me the option to attend structured, community classes and the flexibility to switch it up with the studios I visit.
5) Find an Accountability Crew
There are days, and even entire seasons, when my desire to work out is incredibly low, despite my Whys and my overall love of being active.
Sometimes it’s work-related stress. Sometimes intense menstrual cramps are to blame (another, much needed, post for another day). Some days I find myself in an mental/emotional slump. Other times it’s simply laziness and lack of motivation.
The beauty of having an accountability partner in these moments is that they provide motivation—as opposed to pressure—for me to keep moving! And also provide encouragement when I fall off.
Pro Tip: Your accountability crew doesn’t have to be large! Finding one or two people who will give you honest/genuine motivation to get going is a lot more effective than expecting your entire social network to hold you accountable. Know someone who will hold you to healthy standards, encourage you to be your best, and support you when you fail? Chose them!
Need ideas of workouts that you can incorporate into your routines? I love the content that Jeanette Jenkings and Massy Arias feature on their pages. I’ve also been doing a Beachbody Fitness program for a few months and I love it!
Are you looking to incorporate early morning workouts into your fitness routine? Leave a comment with your ideal workout time and consider it your first step in the right direction!