Setting and keeping with a morning workout routine can seem very difficult, but it’s the best thing to keep you working out sustainably. It’s been a habit of mine to go to the gym 3 times a week since I was in University. I may not go the same days every week, but I know I can get into the gym at least 3 times a week! Then things would come up. Maybe I would sleep in one day, or go out one night and not feel motivated in the morning. Sometimes I would tell myself I’d workout after work, but that never happened. I realized I had to change my entire routine to start my day off right.
Although it is good to have a morning routine to get you going, I found that if I didn’t start preparing myself the night before, I had trouble sticking to my morning workout the next day. These are 5 things I started doing to win back my morning workouts and feel strong doing them, too!
Organize the night before you morning workout
I know it sounds like you’re back in pre-school and your mom is getting your clothes ready, but this works! I get my clothes (outfit, socks, shoes, and even underwear) ready the night before a workout. Choosing this stuff ahead of time takes the guesswork out of having to do it the morning of, and believe it or not, this can take up a lot of mental space.
There is evidence to show that your mental battery gets depleted as your day progresses. Little things like having to pick our clothes, thinking up a grocery list, and scheduling your children’s after-school sports all add up. John Tierney describes it best: “The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing.” If you don’t want to miss your morning workout, simply laying your clothes out the night before is a simple step you can take to ensure you’re on the right track!
“Getting up for a morning workout will be a lot less miserable if you set yourself up for success the night before. That’s why this week is dedicated to optimizing your evenings for better mornings.” – Shape
Plan your workout ahead of time
Do you know what you’re working on before you start working out, or do you just want to move? There is no right or wrong because at least you are moving. However, if you want to see measurable results, a workout plan can help in the following ways: reduce the chances of hitting a plateau, it takes the guesswork out of your workouts, keeps you more accountable, and can be customized to fit your lifestyle but still challenge you.
Having a plan gives you a general guideline of how long your workout should take. It also tells you how many reps and sets (variables) you need to accomplish for your specific phase, and when you need to change your phase entirely (usually 3 months) to avoid a plateau. Changing your workout after 2-3 months is imperative to see lasting changes. When you do something different every day, it is hard to determine what is and isn’t working for you.
If you do not want to follow an exercise plan, consider whether you will have a resistance training day. When would you prefer a cardio day? For example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday can be resistance training days, and Tuesday and Saturday can be cardio days. It’s good to know what you’re going to do the next day, week, or month so that you can determine how much time you have for all your other hobbies/activities.
Write it out!
Sometimes writing your workout schedule on a calendar or in a journal helps so that you can remember what you did that day when you look back. Maybe you had a really productive day, or maybe you were feeling a bit drained before work due to your workout. It’s good to see which workouts work for you and which workouts work against you. This can also help you determine if a workout is better in the morning, afternoon, or evening. I personally like my workouts at 2 or 3 pm. This burst of adrenaline has helped to replace an afternoon coffee that I know will just keep me wired late into the night.
Other things you can write about are your sleep, food intake, and other activities that you partook in that day. This will all help you to figure out which schedule works best for you and your busy lifestyle.
Have short-term and long-term goals
Knowing what you want to achieve can help tremendously when it comes to your willingness to stick to your morning workout routine. If you can visualize what you want for the future YOU, it is more likely to work for you. An example of this could look like this:
- In a month, I want to have more energy
- After 3 months, I want to see my skin clear up
- In 6 months, I want to do 5 push-ups
- After 1 year, I want to lose 20lbs of fat and gain muscle
This list includes some short-term goals, which encourage you forward. It also includes an ambitious goal of losing 20lbs of fat! I highly recommend writing down a few short-term and long-term goals. Along with this, workout with a trainer/friend to build a program around these goals. This extra level of accountability will help you stick to your plan when your workouts start feeling too difficult. Remember: Your workouts will likely not feel easy. They should feel challenging, and this is where you will start to reap the most rewards.
Find an accountability buddy.
I know I can count on my friends for going out and partying. Working out is a different story. Do you know someone who has been wanting to go to the gym or a specific class? Going to the gym with a buddy will help to keep you accountable and change the intensity at which you workout! Make sure you find someone who has similar goals or wants to work hard. That will likely rub off on you.
Maybe going to a HIIT or Yoga class on your own is more than enough for you. You’re surrounded by other active people! For those who know they can hold themselves accountable, maybe signing up for a class on Zoom is enough.
Remember, you can always workout outside as well. I personally love meeting up with my run crew on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The people I surround myself with make a huge difference, especially since Wednesday runs are always Speed training days. Those are definitely not my favorite!
These tips aren’t guaranteed to get you out the door and working out, as some things will still come up. Other things will get in the way of your morning workout, so have a backup plan for when that happens. If you can’t workout in the morning, can you substitute for an evening workout? If you get injured, can you still find a way to work toward your goals? This could include exercising other body parts, rehabbing your injury, or increasing stretching or meditation in order to find more balance in your routine to avoid future injuries.
Let us know if you already incorporate some of these tips into your routine. Have they worked for you? What do you do that is not on this list? I’m open to suggestions on how to improve my own routine and make my workouts more exciting!