Morning exercise is a great way to feel like you’ve accomplished something before you dive into the monotony of your day.
But if you’re not a morning person, it’s a lot easier to keep hitting snooze in lieu of working up a sweat — unless you know about these life-changing morning workout hacks.
But why should you even consider exercising in the AM?
“Morning workouts let you take care of your body first, before getting distracted by the events of the day,” says ACSM-certified exercise physiologist Joan Pagano. “It’s not an indulgence; it’s the practice of self-care.”
Here’s how to plan for a morning workout you’ll never want to miss.
11 Brilliant Morning Workout Hacks
1. Get enough sleep
Sounds obvious, right? But it’s true: It’s easier to get up early if you log the recommended 7 to 9 hours. “It’s all about discipline and consistency,” says sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D., aka “The Sleep Doctor.”
Here are a few ways to optimize your sleep for morning workouts:
- Keep your bedroom cool. Optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Your body’s internal clock is naturally programmed to sleep when it’s dark, so limit the amount of light in your bedroom. Keep the lights low before bed, shut down light-emitting electronics about a half-hour before turning in, and block outside light with blackout curtains or a sleep mask.
- Toss those old scratchy sheets and invest in comfortable bedding. You might even want to reconsider your pillows and mattress to make sure you’re sleeping in optimal comfort.
- Create a wind-down bedtime routine to tell your brain that it’s time for sleep. This might be drinking a warm cup of tea, curling up with a good book, meditating, or listening to calming music.
- Gradually make your bedtime earlier by about 10 minutes each night, and soon your body will grow accustomed to going to sleep earlier, so you can wake up earlier for your morning workout.
2. Lay out your exercise clothes the night before
Set your clothes in sight of where you sleep, so when you open your eyes and spot them it will send a signal to your mind that it’s time to work out. Better yet, make that outfit one that you love, so you can’t wait to put it on.
Pro-morning workout hack: Don’t just lay your clothes out in the morning — wear them to sleep!
Most workout clothes are as comfortable as pajamas, and it will save you time when you’re getting ready.
3. Put your alarm out of reach
It’s far too easy to just keep hitting snooze until your workout window has closed. By setting a loud alarm across the room, you’ll be forced to get up out of bed to shut it off.
And if you’re not already wearing your workout clothes, put the alarm next to them so you can just grab them and go. For extra insurance that you don’t sneak back into bed, consider setting a second alarm to go off 5 minutes after the first.
4. Set your coffee maker to go off at a specific time
There’s nothing that signals “good morning” like the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee. Some coffee makers come with automatic built-in timers that you can schedule to go off at a specific time; others can be set with a smart device.
The smell wafting from your kitchen will give you just another incentive to get up and crush your workout.
And coffee doesn’t just smell and taste good; it actually can help you work harder and burn more fat.
5. Let the light in
Expose yourself to natural light as soon as you can after you wake up. “Getting blue light from the sun turns off your brain’s melatonin faucet, which in turn can erase any morning fog you feel and give you energy to get going,” says Breus.
If the sun doesn’t wake up when you do, try using a light box, which can simulate natural sunlight.
6. Sniff peppermint oil
If you’re looking for a quick jolt to wake you up out of sleepy stupor, coffee isn’t the only solution — peppermint can help make you more alert, Breus says.
Research shows that a whiff of peppermint essential oil can increase alertness, which can help you get pumped up to crush your workout routine.
Drinking peppermint oil may also help your performance — a small study found that drinking 500 ml of mineral water spiked with peppermint oil improved power and time to exhaustion.
7. Fuel up (but don’t sit down!)
You need to eat the right thing to boost your glycogen levels and fuel your morning workout, but resist the urge to sit down so you can keep your forward momentum going.
Choose a bite to eat that’s about 100 calories and easy to digest, suggests Denis Faye, M.S. and Openfit’s executive director of nutrition. His pick: a small piece of fruit, like half a banana.
Pro-morning workout hack: Set your food out the night before so you don’t have to go scrounging for it in the morning.
8. Drink up
Dehydration can have a huge effect on physical performance. “When you wake, you are dehydrated; you’ve lost about one liter of water while sleeping through sweat and breathing,” Breus says.
He suggests drinking water when you first wake up to jump-start your body — about 16 ounces should keep you hydrated for your upcoming activities.
Pro-morning workout hack: Squeeze some lemon juice into your water for an invigorating flavor.
9. Keep yourself accountable with a workout buddy or group
Telling yourself you can’t work out is easy to do; making that excuse to someone else is a whole other story. “The accountability factor is definitely a key to success,” Pagano says.
Not only does it keep you from canceling, but working out with a friend can help you push yourself harder.
10. Download a new playlist
Create a “wake-up” list of energizing songs to get you motivated to move. Research shows that music can reduce the perception of effort and increase endurance up to 15 percent.
Pick a playlist you love to get an energy surge that will take you through even the toughest workout.
11. Work out at home
Your time in the morning is valuable, so why waste it by driving to the gym? Clear out some space at home and do your workouts.
Rise and Shine
Ready to give the early bird routine a try? With these morning workout hacks in play, you may never return to being a night owl again.
Once you figure out what works best for your routine, you’ll set yourself up for success in reaching your health and fitness goals.