Health / Expert Advice

7 Health Experts on Switching to Morning Workouts

It takes a little bit more than simply laying your clothes out the night before.

There’s something amazing about making the switch to morning workouts—particularly if it means skipping them less in the evenings. Many studies have shown that working up a sweat before the sun’s out will make you more productive at work, award you with higher levels of day-long energy, and help you maintain your workout regimen with more confidence and dedication. But accomplishing this feat requires much more than resisting the urge to hit snooze. We know because we asked a handful of health and wellness professionals how they finally made the switch to morning workouts. Here, they share their secrets.

“I found my window.”

For board-certified nutritional consultant, holistic health coach, and co-founder of Project Juice, Marra St. Clair, sleeping in her gym clothes didn’t get her to work out in the morning. For her, it required finding the ideal sleeping period that would make it more likely that she’d actually plant her two feet on the ground in the a.m. She calls this time frame her ‘window’ and she does her best to stick to it—no matter what happy hour invitations or TV shows come her way. “Getting up [at 4 a.m.] and still feeling fresh requires me to make sure I get my butt to bed early. If I stay up past 10 p.m., I’ve missed my window and often can’t fall asleep until midnight,” she explains.

To find your window, St. Clair suggests setting a goal for what time you’d like to be at the gym. Then, play with bedtimes to see what hour makes the biggest impact and leaves you feeling most rested.

“I only focus on exercise in the morning.”

Think about the very first action you take each and every morning. If you’re like most people (us included!), your smartphone receives a good morning embrace way before anything else. While reaching for the phone in the morning is second-nature, removing this distraction and others allowed productivity and health speaker, author, and coach, Marcey Rader to become an a.m. enthusiast. After her alarm goes off, she only does three things before starting her workout. She uses the restroom, meditates, and checks her heart rate. She allows herself to check texts, emails, and any other digital correspondence only after she’s completed a workout. This frees her to focus 100 percent of her energy on her physical fitness.

“I use a sleep cycle app.”

If you’re having a hard time waking up early, you might be waking up at the wrong time. Personal trainer and nutrition coach Kyra Williams suggests using an app that ensures you wake up rested. Specifically, she uses an app that monitors her sleep cycle and wakes her up when she’s in a state of light sleep. “If I wake up from a deep sleep, I stay groggy all day,” she says. She explains that you set your alarm for your usual wake up time and then set a range—15 minutes or more—in the app that your alarm can go off before or by your set wake up time. The app will gauge your sleeping patterns and determine when you’re sleeping lightest within your range. At that time, it will trigger your alarm. It works with your circadian rhythm to make sure you’re ready to wake up.

“I use music to get up and going.”

If you’ve used a traditional-sounding alarm for some years, you’re likely accustomed to it by now. This can actually cause you problems when it comes to waking up. Your body and mind can get so used to a certain sound that it no longer triggers the original response—like waking up for example. That’s why fitness pro Nikol Kovalchuk credits solid jams with her ability to sweat it out in the a.m. “Never understand the power of good music to get you pumped,” she says. “Instead of setting your alarm to its default, set it to a song that will get your heart racing and put you in a great mood.”

Plus, Aaptiv classes are all perfectly synced to upbeat and motivating playlists to help you get up and get moving.

“I plan my routine before bed.”

There’s nothing worse than getting up, getting to the gym, and not having any plan of action. Logging a low and slow few miles on a cardio machine isn’t exactly going to motivate you to keep getting up early. That’s why it can help to make a workout plan the night before. For physiologist Jerry Snider knowing what he had in store for himself made it easier to jump right into his workouts. Before you head to sleep, figure out your game plan so you’ll know exactly what you need to accomplish—even with a groggy, I-need-coffee-now mind.

Plus, with Aaptiv, you can schedule your workouts beforehand, so you’ll know exactly what to do when you get started.

“I enlisted a friend.”

It’s no secret a workout buddy will help motivate you to make your workouts. That same logic, of course, applies to morning workouts. For New York City-based personal trainer, James Shapiro, MS, CES, PES, having a friend along for workouts made all the difference. “I developed a program for me and a friend to utilize for eight weeks,” he says. “Knowing that I had someone else to bear the early morning with and feed off with their energy did make things easier. We could help each other push just a little bit more with every workout.”

“I found a source of inspiration.”

For working mother and NASM-certified personal trainer and health coach, Robyn Lanci, carving out time for well, anything, proved difficult. But she was honest with herself about her time and admits that if workouts didn’t happen in the morning, they weren’t going to happen at all. So she put an emotional component behind her motivation. Lanci keeps a photo of her son by her bed that serves as a reminder to stay healthy for him. “Figure out what motivates you most—it can be anything—and then focus on it on the days you want to call it quits or sleep in,” she says.

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