The last thing you want to do before bed is set your alarm an hour earlier so you have time to go to the gym, right? I get it. I'd rather hit snooze 100 times before hitting the treadmill pre-7 a.m. But those early bird gym-goers are onto something — working out in the morning helps you burn more calories and stay more alert throughout the day (plus, it frees up your evenings so you can actually have a social life instead of slaving away on the stationary bike).
If you're not exactly a morning person (guilty!), it might take some time to get used to breaking a sweat before the sun rises. Don't worry, we've all been there. So, to help you get your butt in gear, here are 10 crucial things to know about morning workouts. Follow this advice, and, I promise, even when you'd rather be burrowing under the covers (I know, it's cold out there!), at least you won't be totally miserable.
1. Do Not Skip Breakfast
Even if you think it's easier to just roll out of bed and head straight to the gym, make sure you grab a snack to go. According to a study published in the journal Strength and Conditioning, skipping breakfast means you're burning calories from muscle, not fat. Plus, without the fuel breakfast provides, you won't have the energy for a real workout.
2. Have a Cup of Coffee
Sure, you might look insane if you stash your Starbucks cup in the elliptical cup holder, but you should definitely down some java before you get to the gym. It improves circulation and reduces pain, enhances memory, and fuels and preserves muscle. Even better: New research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that two cups of coffee before the gym could make your sweat sesh feel more enjoyable.
3. Lay Out (Or Sleep in) Your Gear
Going back to that whole rolling out of bed idea...setting out (or sleeping in, which I have been known to do) your gym clothes can eliminate most thought processes that need to occur to get you out of the door before you're actually awake.
4. Put Your Phone (and Alarm) Across the Room
It's an old trick, but a good one. You already have to get up to turn off that obnoxious alarm; might as well keep going...all the way to the gym.
5. Set Up Time With a Trainer
If you're making someone else get out of bed for you at the crack of dawn — and paying them! — you're way less likely to slack off. Make yourself accountable, people.
6. Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
Duh, right? The more tired you are, the more sluggish you'll be at the gym. Do yourself a favor and hit the sheets a half hour or so earlier than normal if you're planning to get up and sweat.
7. Remind Yourself That Exercise Will Help You Sleep Better
Seriously. A new study from Appalachian State University found that when people lifted weights at 7 a.m., they fell asleep about 45 minutes faster (and slept better) than when they didn’t work out. Aerobic exercise might even be more effective than strength training, according to ASU.
8. Take Extra Time to Warm Up
After spending the night laying down, expending zero energy, your body temperature is way lower than it is at any other time of day. As a result, you need to spend more time warming up in the morning than you would if you were hitting the gym after work. Give yourself a good stretch — it'll help you feel better throughout your workout and the rest of the day.
9. Queue Up Some Music Videos
If you're planning on a long run or ride so you don't have to think about reps or circuits before your brain is fully functioning, turn the cardio machine's TV to a music video channel (or load up your tablet with some vids). A recent study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that people who listened to music and watched videos enjoyed their workout the most.
10. No Excuses
It takes 66 days to form a habit, so even if there comes a morning where getting out of bed for the gym seems worse than someone kidnapping your cat, do it. The more you keep at it, the better your body will adjust to the change.
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