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How I Developed An Early Morning Workout Habit


Woke up at 6am today, went for a run, and was rewarded with this gorgeous view.

 

Over a year ago, I very rarely had moments like this since working out at that time on a Sunday seemed insane.  I always wanted to be that person who bangs out 5am or 6am training sessions, energized to tackle the day, but I could not figure out how to do it. My entire life I have never been a “morning person.”  In high school I would grumpily roll out of bed about 15 minutes before I had to run out the door to subway it to school on time.   As a professional working long hours, when forced to choose between waking up early to get that sweat sesh in or obtaining a much needed extra hour or two of sleep. I usually chose the latter.

 

Why I Decided to Start Doing Early Morning Workouts

So what changed? It wasn’t any trick or gadget. I tried everything under the sun. Setting five alarms, having a workout buddy, purchasing a special wake-up light, and even using an app that forced me to play 3 rounds of some Tetris-like game. What changed was I started noticing that the people at my gym and in the New York City fitness community who were making the most progress in their performance, were the ones who logged those runs and hit the weight room at 6 am or earlier.   Because they got their training sessions in before the day got ahead of them, they could ensure consistent progress. It wasn’t just a matter of the obvious advantage over evening workouts of not having to worry about a last minute work-related cancellation. It was that these athletes could totally focus on the task at hand before the rest of the world was awake and work towards their goals at full strength having just come off a full night’s sleep.

 

My Challenge To Myself

After I realized this, I decided to challenge myself—I committed to one month of at least four early morning workouts a week, no excuses. If I did not see any differences in my fitness level or health generally, the experiment was over. The first week was rough, but, about two weeks in, I started to naturally wake up before my alarm went off.   Also, I got hooked on the camaraderie among the early morning regulars at my gym. I looked forward to seeing my 6am lifting crew and partnering with the same people, becoming familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we knew when and how much to push each other outside our comfort zones. I made more progress in one month than I had in a long time. I required significantly less resistance band assistance to complete a pull-up. I could deadlift over 20lbs more weight. Not only did I build up physical strength, but the emotional strength, the sense of empowerment I felt when I hit new personal records, carried into the rest of my day. I approached tasks more clear-minded and confident.

 

Why the Early Morning Workout Habit Stuck

So, as you may have guessed, the challenge succeeded in getting me on track. This is not to say that there are not days where I have a tough time getting out of bed because I did not sleep well the night before, but I usually can find the willpower to fight through the grogginess and get out the door. And, yes, once in a while, life happens and I end up late cancelling because I was up late due to a work deadline or because I did not feel well, but those instances are far fewer now. Between not wanting to impede my progress and knowing I will not be as productive the rest of the day if I don’t get that workout in, I have ample motivation to maintain my schedule.

 

Do Your Own Challenge

So if you are a fellow non-morning person who is curious whether you would benefit from doing more early morning workouts, I recommend doing a similar challenge. A month gives your body time to adjust to the new schedule and to see results and, as the saying goes, results are addictive. If you decide to do the challenge, let me know how it goes in the comments section below!