15 Steps to Becoming a Morning Exerciser

6 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Exercising every morning is a resolution many people have on their list year after year. And yet, this goal often goes unrealized for many different reasons. Start a search today to learn a few tips that translate to success with morning workouts.

Many people don’t enjoy waking up early, and there are some who think that waking up at 5 or 6 AM every morning to exercise would be a literal nightmare. But here are a few tips that might help you transition to a morning exerciser!

Be realistic in your expectations

First of all, it’s not realistic to expect that you’ll wake up every morning ready to go. Even if you’re already used to getting up early, your body still needs time to rest after strenuous activity. Only you know what your body needs, and it’s important to listen when your body is telling you that it’s under strain because of your workout regime.

Although some researchers suggest 2-3 times a week for some workouts, it really depends on your level of intensity. Give yourself a break every now and then.

Pick an activity you love

It’s difficult to get up in the morning if you don’t love what you’re doing. The key is to recognize what your body needs, and what you enjoy doing, and try to find what activities live in that intersection.

Need to work on your stamina but hate running? Try swimming! Next time your morning routine is in a rut, check out some local places who do something a little different, like a boxing gym, a swimming club, or an axe-throwing arena! Don’t force yourself to do something that you hate.

Choose the right time of morning

Some people thrive on smaller amounts of sleep, and are able to wake up at 5 AM, go for a run, then sit down to a leisurely breakfast and morning of reading the paper before they head to work. Other people spend the 20 minutes before they have to clock in running laps at the local high school. Both of these are equally valid, so figure out what schedule works best for you, and stick to it.

Eat first

It’s really difficult to exercise on an empty stomach, and you’ll get much more out of your workout if you eat first. It doesn’t need to be heavy — many people swear by a small amount of oatmeal topped with milk, or plain old cereal before they exercise in the morning. If your body has fuel to keep it going while you work out, you won’t experience the mid-morning collapse that inevitably comes when you don’t eat enough calories to keep you going.

Drink a big glass of water

Many people drink a big glass of water (sometimes with a slice of lemon) to get their body going first thing in the morning. Many celebrity trainers like Harley Pasternak swear by this, and drink up to two liters of water when they first wake up before doing anything else. The lemon is a natural detox, and acts as a diuretic to flush out the system.

Use the buddy system

It’s easy to convince yourself that you can just sleep for five more minutes if you’re working out on your own. If you’re meeting someone else to exercise together, you’re forced to get up and get out the door — no excuses!

Having a partner to keep you accountable can be both fun and a great way to keep yourself on the ball. Plus, some friendly competition never hurt anyone!

Lay out all your equipment the night before

Especially in the dead of winter, getting up before the sun and stumbling around in the dark looking for your missing sock or sneaker just isn’t fun. Lay out all of your workout gear the night before, and you’ll be out the door in no time the next morning. A lot of people even do this with their lunches, so they can exercise on the way to work.

Be mindful of the weather

It’s all well and good to enjoy running every morning, but what about those mornings that you wake up and it’s pouring rain outside? Having a backup plan, like an indoor exercise routine or a gym membership will help you stick to your exercise plan, whatever the weather.

Make a butt-kicking playlist

Having a rockin’ playlist already cued up for your first waking minutes can really help kick start your day. The upbeat music will help lift your mood, and will instantly wake you up so that you’re ready to hit the gym.

Picking the right song for your alarm (if you have a smartphone) can also help this — if the first sound you hear in the morning is something powerful like Beyoncé or TSwift, imagine how great your day will be compared to if you’d started it with an angry buzzing alarm clock.

Don’t stay up too late

Even the most dedicated person can’t wake up in the morning for a workout after getting home at 3 AM from the club. Set yourself up for success by figuring out how much sleep you really need (some people are OK with 6 hours or less, while others need a full 8 hours), and work backwards from your workout time to determine when you should try to fall asleep.

It can take some getting used to, but if you’re serious about trying to work out in the mornings, this is a step that is absolutely crucial. Without it, you might be able to struggle through a few workouts, but it will definitely not become a habit that sticks.

Warm up for longer

In the morning, your body is still getting used to being active after sleeping for hours. It’s important to treat it gently until you’ve warmed up, which sometimes takes longer than if you’re working out in the middle of the day.

Warming up allows your heart to adjust to the increased activity, and also loosens your joints and muscles, making them more elastic and resistant to injury. Your warm up gradually gets your body used to the exertion of exercise, so that you can work out longer and more effectively once you start.

Start small

While some people can jump right into an hour-long cardio workout after not having done any exercise for a while, for others this sounds like a nightmare.

If you haven’t worked out for a while, or if you’re just starting to build up your morning workout habit, start small. Do a quick online yoga video, or go for a run around the block. Then, gradually build up your workout in length and intensity until you’re at a level you like.

Invest in good gear

It’s difficult to wake up every morning and work out if you know you’re going to have to struggle with an ancient treadmill, or threadbare running clothes. If you really want to see success in your exercise regime, you have to plan for it by investing in the right gear.

It’s hard to get excited about going out for a run if you know that your clothes make you look like a hot, sweaty mess. There are so many pieces on the market now that incorporate sweat-wicking technology into chic and flattering designs — make sure you do your research first to see what suits your lifestyle.

Track your progress

Sometimes it can be hard to see your success if you don’t keep track right from the beginning. Progress can be incremental, and while many people look for 6-pack abs right away, the truth is that it’s sometimes easier to see progress in terms of increasing stamina and strength rather than your physical shape.

Keep a journal, or use an app to track your workouts, and celebrate every little milestone!

Reward yourself

After you’ve been doing it for a while, it gets easier to motivate yourself to get up every morning, but at the beginning, it can be really difficult to convince yourself to get up and get moving.

Reward yourself for every successful workout with a small treat, like chocolate covered coffee beans, fruit, or a square of good-quality dark chocolate. It also doesn’t have to be a food item — if you really enjoy watching Netflix but never have time, take 20 minutes after your workout to watch your favorite show as a reward.

Jordana Weiss