Working out in the early morning

Well, hello Wednesday. Here you are, letting us know it’s already the middle of the week.

Early AM wake-up 

When my alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. today I quickly reached for it and knocked over my glass of water off my bedside table. It hit the wall, and all the water poured on the floor, onto the throw pillows next to the bed and across the bedside table.

That, in turn, had me jump right up out of bed, also waking Dave up in the process.

Just a little bit of chaos in the wee hours of the morning.

From there, I moved through the darkness to pick up the pile of clothes sitting on my dresser, scooted through our tiny bedroom and made it to the bathroom to get suited up for my work-out.

Although I woke up Dave and made more of a ruckus than normal, I was still ready to jet out the door in less than 15 minutes so I could walk to the Financial District to teach a 6:30 a.m. BODYPUMP class at Bay Club.

As I power-walked through the cool city streets to get to the gym, I started thinking about how I’m able to get up and go so easily in the mornings, even when it’s still dark outside.

First of all, admittedly, I’m a morning person, and I’m an early riser. I usually wake up before 7 a.m. on the weekends for no reason. Also, I often wake up before my alarm.

Dave, on the other hand, would prefer to sleep in a bit. He does wake up most weekdays at 6 a.m. to fit in his work-out as well, but it’s more of a struggle for him to get his body up and moving.

These days, my work-outs happen at different times each day. My schedule is now dictated by the classes I teach, which are at 5 p.m., 6:30 a.m., noon, 5:30 p.m. and 10 a.m., allover the board on different days.

However, back in Orlando, I stuck to a very regular early morning work-out routine for almost two years straight. I would wake up at 5:15 a.m., and either go down to the gym at my condo building to do cardio on the treadmill, or get into my car to teach an early morning BODYPUMP class at the gym. I had it down to a science, and I loved that it gave me free evenings. I made the change to early morning work-outs back then because my job often required me to work late. I couldn’t always be sure my projects would be done in enough time to leave to make it to the gym in the afternoon, so the schedule change was needed.

Now, I only have one early morning class a week requiring before dawn rising, and it’s very easy for me to do.

Here’s how …

How to wake up early to work out

Preparation is key.

  • Set out your work-out outfit the night before in one easily accessible place and include all the elements, down to the undergarments, sneakers, socks, hair elastic and the sweatshirt that goes on top.
  • Set out your gym bag with everything in it you will need, including headphones, a charged iPod, a towel, your wallet and keys, etc.
  • Plan what you are going to eat before you go and after you are done. Although I’ve experimented with many early morning bites, my current pre-AM class snack is a Greek yogurt. Post work-out is a protein shake, then after I shower and get ready, I have a normal breakfast. Now, this is enough of a discussion item for a future post, but you don’t have to eat before an early AM work-out if you don’t want to. Oftentimes, you will be okay doing cardio on an empty stomach, which sometimes increases fat burn. However, if you are doing an extended work-out, resistance training or anything high-intensity, you want some fuel in your belly to burn.
  • Plan what you are going to wear to work that day or after your exercise is done. The worst part of a morning work-out is the rush to get ready for the rest of your day. If you have that step whittled down a bit, life is much easier. If you are bringing clothes with you to get ready at the gym, the process for setting everything out in one place should also be done the night before.

Here’s a set-up that allows for no excuses …

Morning work-out set-up

Working out in the morning is not for everyone, but everyone should give it a try for at least a few weeks. Even if you think it is crazy, you may come to love it.

If you go to a gym, you’ll probably find it easier to use the equipment you want in the wee morning hours. And, you often walk out of the gym feeling incredibly accomplished, maybe even giving you motivation to be more productive throughout your day.

Now on to whether it’s better for you …

Is it better to work out in the morning or evening?

I did some research on whether it is more effective to work out in the morning or the evening. Studies are fairly inconclusive.

What I found is that whatever work-out time makes you be consistent, is the best one for you.

According to a study cited on the Dr. Oz site: If you work out in the early morning, you will generally have a better night’s sleep. However, if you work out in the evening, you are sometimes able to go harder, as your body temperature is already warmed up and you hit peak levels faster. Yet, evening work-outs are easily pushed aside for last-minute plans, as well as extra tasks at work that pop up unexpectedly, making you more likely to skip. Not to mention, if you work out too close to bed-time (within two hours of it), you can disrupt your sleep by not coming down off your physical high before laying down.

There you have it, no final answer on which is best.

So the time of day that you choose to work out doesn’t really matter, as long as you do it.

But if you want to try early mornings, might I suggest you do a little preparation, and also, be sure you don’t knock anything off your bedside table when the alarm rouses you from your slumber.

All you fitness buffs out there, what’s your ideal time to sweat?

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  1. I MUCH prefer working out earlier in the morning. Ideally, I love working out in the 8-9 AM hour, but there’s definitely something nice about working out in the 5-6 AM hour, eating breakfast, and showered all before my son wakes up. If I workout in the evening, I find that it’s more difficult for me to fall asleep. All those endorphins wake me right up!

    Also, question: What does your husband do for workouts? Does he go to a gym or do something at home? My husband is fairly active (i.e. works outside, plays basketball in rec leagues, etc.), but he doesn’t love the gym scene. I’d love to see him do some more strength training since there’s so many benefits of it. I’m trying to convince him to let me come up with a home workout program. 😉

    1. Hi Ash! I agree on morning workouts, I prefer to have it done, but I have to train clients so early now that isn’t possible for me. Funny you should ask about my hubby. He does work out, but doesn’t have a gym membership. He runs outside or uses the gym at our apartment. Even though I love it, he isn’t a fan of group fitness or weight training. He played soccer in college, so stays in good shape but doesn’t love fitness like me. He works out as a necessity, not as a passion. We don’t work out together, but I wish we did. He does okay on his own, but I think I’m going to teach him a few new things soon. Heheh 🙂 That would be awesome if you two worked out at home. Has he ever been to your BP class? My husband has come a couple times, but he just doesn’t like it!

  2. Oh man I could probably write a novel about what I like best about different workout times. I’d have to say it definitely depends on what kind of workout I’m doing though! If I know I’m going to be super busy for the rest of the day a morning workout is the best way to go, because then I don’t have to worry about it. If I’ve got all the time in the world, I like doing workouts around 11 am -2 pm, because it gives me time to wake up, eat, and digest. And finally, if I’m at school, I like afternoon workouts (4:30 pm ish), because it gives me time to not only do something completely different and get off my butt for a while, but to give my mind a break too! Not to mention, eating dinner after a good workout is the BEST!
    The only time I don’t want to workout? Late at night. I don’t get how those people do it!

    1. Hi Nicole! Thanks for stopping by. I’m with you on the late-night workouts. The latest I ever exercise is during the 5:30 pm classes I teach. Morning is probably the best time for me to get it done, but now that I work as a trainer I have to train people way too early to fit in my own workout. I always get it done though!

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