In a world where we as a species have put a man on the moon (several, actually), split an atom, and eradicated polio, it’s amazing to think that not a single person has come up with an alarm sound that doesn’t make us want to curl back under the covers and wish for a bomb scare at the office.
Getting out of bed and ready for the day can be a struggle for most of us and making that 8:30 breakfast meeting might be a crap time on any day of the week. The idea of getting up 40 or so minutes earlier to lift heavy inanimate objects can really be too much to muster.
That said, the benefits of early-morning exercise (as anybody already familiar with the habit will know) are plentiful, and once you’ve got a healthy routine going, it becomes easier to haul your sorry arse from under the covers and into the gym each day (until it becomes normal).
Here are five very good reasons to get out of bed and into the gym before you embark on the rest of your day, and a few tips to get you started on your happy new life as a morning person.
Your metabolism will be better
Okay, so there’s no great revelation that your body burns calories when you work out, but did you know that it keeps burning them far more efficiently for a whole 14 hours AFTER working out?
This study from 2011 shows that people who exercised in the morning burned nearly 200 calories more than their afternoon exercise counterparts throughout the rest of their waking hours.
This is because of EPOC, or: “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” (a term beloved by folks in the fitness industry).
Basically, it means that your body will continue to burn calories even when you’re doing very little, like sitting at a desk, because of the fact that you’ve started the process before you started absorbing nutriment (read: shoving food into your face). This means that the food you do consume throughout the day will go towards replenishing your energy levels, and not your belly.
You will sleep better
It’s probably no wild revelation that exercising wears out the body, allowing for greater sleep at the end of the day, but by exercising in the morning, you allow your body to recover from your workout throughout the day.
Almost all exercise causes some form of stress to the body to trigger long-term improvement (otherwise we wouldn’t bother doing it).
Bodies, however, react to stress in many ways, and one of these is to release endorphins and hormones to counteract the immediate effects. Many of these, including adrenaline, do a great job of keeping you going during an intense gym sesh, but are about as useful as tits on a bull if you’re trying to get a ticket to the land of nod shortly thereafter.
By exercising first thing you’re both giving yourself an energy boost for the day by triggering this reaction and allowing your body the time it needs to recover before bed. By the time you do hit the hay, you’ll only be feeling the exhausted part of hitting the gym.
You’ll become more on top of your shit
Exercising after work might seem like an appropriate use of time. You’re already up, there’s a boring gap in between work and sleep that would only be filled with Uber Eats and Netflix anyway, and you have more time.
Thing is, for the absolute majority of us, this is bullshit.
Whether a late deadline keeps you at your desk, a pressing social engagement makes you skip out on your appointment with the steel, or just a hard day at work means that by 6pm you really CBF lifting weights, there’s always an excuse to avoid the gym after work.
Even if this only happens one or two days a week that’s still one or two days fewer than if you’d just bitten the bullet and made it there before your day started properly.
This also means that you can fill your evenings with things you’ll actually look forward to, be it wining and dining on the town, a few guilt-free beers at the local with mates, or staying in with the missus and a shitty romcom, without the dread of knowing you committed the cardinal sin of skipping leg day.
You’ll also be far more inclined to opt for a more efficient workout plan if it’s in the morning, as every minute spent in the gym is another minute you could have spent in bed.
Your energy reserves will increase
This is a truism for both body and mind.
Some claim that exercise is even more effective than coffee at giving your brain and body a decent boost of energy, and there’s little denying that a good session to get the heart pumping is energising.
What’s great about exercising in the morning is that you give yourself this boost when you need it most, rather than causing a jolt of energy right before bed (or half-way through the day, when you could be eating and resting while your body goes to town on those calories).
You’ll have a better time
Better sleep, better energy levels, better mood, better routine, more time on your hands and a general improvement in your wellbeing – what more proof do you want?
We’re the first to admit that getting out of bed at sparrow’s fart is a hard ask a lot of the time.
Sleeping in is a cruelly short-lived bliss that can be seldom matched. But the myriad benefits of a morning workout are self-evident, and given how busy everybody is these days, the idea of getting anything done more efficiently should be applauded (and applied).
Some other benefits (that are probably pretty bloody obvious) are:
- You’ll turn up to work alert and ready for action.
- Your energy levels won’t crash post 3pm.
- You’ll turn up to a gym full of other motivated exercisers (meaning less fucking around, which also means less wait time for equipment).
- The gym will have fewer folks at daybreak (also meaning less wait time for equipment).
- You’ll come home clean and in nice work clothes, not sweating and gross, meaning you can head straight back out (if you’re so inclined).
Tips for a morning routine (that’ll actually work)
Okay, we hear you. You’re convinced by the concept, but think the execution may be a little trickier than simply reading this article (it will be). We’ve assembled a few quality ideas below to help you get your butt off the mattress and onto the bench press. Enjoy you new life as a morning person.
- Put your alarm AWAY from the bedside table. Chances are you’ll hit snooze if it’s within reach. If you can, place it somewhere that’ll force you out of bed to turn it off, that way you’re already up, and there’s no excuse not to stay that way.
- Eat a little (but not a lot). A small piece of fruit, a cup of yoghurt, maybe a handful of nuts; it’s important to give your body something to work with, but you won’t need a lot to get you going. Save a proper meal for after your workout.
- Set the same start time every day. This is especially easy if you start work every day at, say, 9am, but if you don’t, try to at least make you wake-up time consistent. This will help you develop a good circadian rhythm, which will make waking up at X o’clock more bearable as time goes by.
- Don’t kill yourself with a two-hour sesh. 30-40 minutes should be ample, whether you’re doing weights or cardio, and you can always factor in high-intensity training if you’re looking for better (or faster) results. Going hard will set you up for the day, but going too hard will wear you out and leave little left for what’s ahead.