Youniverse Contributor Katie Rosenbrock
Very few people in this world would call waking up early to go to the gym “easy.”
For most people — even the most dedicated fitness enthusiasts — getting out of bed early when that alarm goes off presents a real internal struggle.
“But my bed is so comfy and warm.”
“It would be so much better to just sleep extra now and squeeze in a workout at some later point in the day.”
These are some of the things your brain might say when your alarm starts buzzing and pressing the snooze button feels like the best option.
The good news, though, is that once you get into the habit and learn how to make your morning workouts one of the best parts of your day, that struggle gets easier and easier to overcome.
I’m not saying those thoughts will ever go away entirely, but you’ll learn how to silence them so the snooze button loses its power. Before you know it, heading to the gym for your workout is something you actually look forward to.
So whether you’re on a mission to build a consistent habit out of morning exercise or you’ve already gotten started and want to make the process a bit more enjoyable, these five tips can help turn your morning trips to the gym from a dreaded chore into an exciting way to start your day.
- Set a goal that’s something other than weight loss.
If you find that actually getting yourself to the gym is the most difficult part of the early morning workout process, then the first and most important step will be for you to find an intrinsic goal that’s going to help keep you motivated.
An intrinsic goal might be something like reducing your stress levels, setting a good example for others or improving your mood. Those are just a few examples, though. This goal can be anything that you choose — just make sure it’s important and meaningful to you. A personal trainer that I once spoke with put it like this: Pick something that would motivate you to get out of bed for a workout on a cold, dark winter morning even when you’re already at your ideal weight.
That might sound pretty extreme, but if you can pinpoint something that important to you as your central source of motivation, every morning workout will be that much easier to start and complete.
- Don’t wait until the morning to get ready.
This is a much simpler step you can take to make your trip to the gym easy and smooth. Pack your gym bag the night before with everything you’ll need. Plan your workout outfit and lay it out so that you can roll out of bed and get dressed right away. Try not to leave anything on your to-do list for the morning. You can even plan an on-the-go breakfast like hard-boiled eggs or overnight oats to cut down on your “getting-ready time.” The less you have to do before leaving the house, the easier your morning will be and the more time you’ll have to spend at the gym.
- Do workouts that you actually enjoy.
Maybe this seems entirely obvious, but if going to the gym feels like a chore or something you dread doing (no matter what time of day you go), then it might mean you should try a new form of exercise.
There’s no reason you should be pumping away on the elliptical every day if it’s boring you to death. It might take some time for you to find your favorite type of exercise, but it’s a good idea to try new workouts and group exercise classes so that you can figure out what kind of activity really gets you excited and leaves you feeling like a million bucks afterwards.
Take a look at your gym’s group exercise class schedule, try incorporating new workouts (like interval training on the treadmill or body weight strength workouts) or consider working with a personal trainer for a period of time. There are so many different options to choose from; it’s just a matter of finding out what activity is most fun for you so that you’ll actually look forward to your workouts.
- Reward yourself.
Celebrating even the smallest victories is an important part of keeping yourself motivated. Like I mentioned earlier, getting up early to go to the gym isn’t necessarily easy, so every time you do is cause for a mini-celebration. Plan a small reward for yourself: something you can look forward to later in the day, like an hour to relax and watch your favorite TV show or curl up with a good book. Remind yourself that if you get your workout done first thing in the morning, you’ll have more time to spend on other priorities later on in the day.
- Make sure to get a good night’s sleep.
A lot of people forget that getting enough sleep (the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to eight hours every night for adults) is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially if you have fitness and weight loss goals. Our bodies recover and recharge when we sleep and healthy sleep habits also help to keep the hormones that help regulate our hunger in check. And then there’s the more obvious point: If you get a good night’s sleep, waking up in the morning will (hopefully) be easier.
If getting to bed at a reasonable time is as much of a struggle as waking up early is, try creating a bedtime routine for yourself. This might include something like drinking a cup of calming (non-caffeinated) tea, reading for a few minutes or practicing a relaxing yoga routine. Also, it’s a good idea to disconnect from your electronics at least 30 minutes before you plan on going to bed, as several studies have shown that the blue light emitted from digital screens can make it difficult to fall asleep and can disrupt our sleep patterns.