If there’s anything crazier than fitness fanatics, it’s early morning fitness fanatics. You know the type: These are the deranged souls who wake up at ungodly hours to squeeze in a full workout before the rest of the world has even sipped their morning cup of coffee. They post statuses on Facebook humble-bragging about how hard their 6 a.m. bootcamp was; they regularly Instagram photos of sunrises with hashtags like #earlymorningrun #noexcuses; they show up to morning office meetings strangely chipper, sporting a post-workout glow.
Are morning workout fanatics crazy? Maybe. But they’re on to something: When you exercise first thing in the a.m., you get those awesome endorphins fired up; you jump-start your metabolism; you feel empowered to conquer your day. Not to mention, it’s an undeniably satisfying feeling to check “exercise” off your daily to-do list before you’ve even eaten breakfast, freeing up your schedule for other activities (aherm, happy hour) after work hours. If you’re the type who complains that you don’t “have time” to work out, doing it first thing in the morning might be the solution for you.
One little problem: You hate mornings. Maybe you’re the kind of person who needs a Starbucks double-espresso Venti first thing in order to transform you into a functional human being. Maybe the thought of leaving your warm sheets at 5:30 a.m. to hop on a treadmill fills you with dread. Maybe you’re a night owl and can’t fall asleep until past midnight. So how can you join the ranks of the early morning workout crew, you wonder? Well, fear not. These seven simple tricks are guaranteed to convert you into an early bird exerciser in no time.
Wear workout clothes to bed. You might get strange looks from your roommate/significant other, but wear your workout clothes to bed the night before an early workout. Yep—sports bra, leggings, tank top, the whole shebang. That way, the minute your alarm goes off, you can spring out of bed, ready to go. Plus, you’ll save yourself the hassle of shifting through your drawer for a clean pair of Lululemon’s.
Put your alarm on the other side of the room. It forces you to get out of butt to turn it off. That way, when your dreaded iPhone ringtone starts blaring in the wee hours of the morning, you won’t be able to reach over and hit the snooze button multiple times.
Go to bed earlier. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it won’t be easy to wake up if you stayed up until 3 a.m. the night before binge-watching “House of Cards.” Make it a priority to squeeze in at least six hours of sleep the night before a workout, even if it means that you have to hit the hay earlier than you usually would.
Induce sleepiness. Don’t get sleepy before midnight? If you’re a night owl, try inducing sleepiness by taking a bath, dimming the lights, avoiding TV and computers, meditating, reading a book, etc. Also, try to limit your caffeine use throughout the day.
Go with a friend. Enlist a buddy to sign up for a morning workout class with you—it holds you accountable. You wouldn’t stand up your friend at 6:00 in the morning, right?
Snack for success. You don’t want to sprint on the treadmill with a full breakfast rolling around in your stomach, but you don’t want to run on empty, either. To power you through your workout, I would recommend consuming a small snack—such as a banana and a smear of almond butter or a small energy bar—20 minutes before your workout. Afterwards, refuel with a healthy, balanced breakfast containing carbs, protein, and fiber.
Sign up for class the night before. That way, when your alarm goes off, you have no choice but to go….or else you risk losing your money.
The more you get into the habit of waking up early to exercise, the easier it will become. In time, who knows…you might even transform into one of those crazy, cult-like 6 am bootcampers yourself. And trust us—your body will thank you for it!