What's better, to work out in the morning or the evening? The answer is the best time to work out is when you will be most consistent.
If you have the kind of day that always goes off the rails after lunch, an unpredictable schedule, or evening obligations, then morning workouts may be a better choice.
However, if you’re more like a confused pigeon than an early bird, and can barely get yourself to work on time as it is, then evening workouts are probably the right choice for you. Play to your strengths.
You see, there is no magic fat-burning or muscle-building benefit to morning workouts. The first most important factor is that you can do it consistently. What time of day is that for you?
I've been working out in the evenings; after work, after dinner, after training clients, after my daily one mile run streak, and frankly, I'm mentally and physically exhausted by that time. After an exceptionally energizing workout in the morning hours on a Saturday, I realized that it might be time for me to revisit morning workouts, but I’ve tried this before and failed. It got me thinking about what I can do differently this time for better success.
Benefits of Morning Workouts (The good stuff)
Stay consistent by getting it done first thing in the morning, surprises that pop up in the day won't derail your workout.
Start the day feeling energized and accomplished.
Start the day with a clearer head as your workout will already be checked off your do-do list..
Not as mentally exhausted during the workout after a long day.
Cons of Morning Workouts (The bad stuff)
Sleep is important. Must go to bed an hour earlier if getting up an hour earlier.
If you don't get enough quality sleep, it may sacrifice results. See #1
It can be challenging to get out of bed in the morning.
You can feel too tired to workout hard.
The first step is to set a goal, then to make a plan for success, think ahead about any obstacles, get support, then take action. Let's go through these steps together.
SET A GOAL: PROJECT MORNING WORKOUTS
Let's start by setting a specific goal, laying out the exact plans for the week. Avoid using words like, "I'll try" to get up tomorrow. Commit to it. As Yoda says:
Do or do not, There is no try.
My goal this week is to set the alarm for 5:45 am on Monday through Thursday, I’ll make a giant pot of coffee and do my workout between six and seven before work.
MAKE A PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Set the alarm for an earlier bedtime and stick to it. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. Losing an hour of sleep for a workout is not an effective strategy because lack of adequate sleep can lead to health issues and can be a factor in poor recovery and stalled fat loss.
Set out workout clothes, shoes, and accessories so that you’re not wrestling dust bunnies under the bed looking for a lost shoe in the dark while your spouse sleeps.
Have your exact workout planned out, know in advance precisely what exercises you will do, how many reps, and sets. I program my workouts in the Strong app in advance. When the morning comes, I only have to open the app to get started.
Prep any equipment you will use. I will load the barbell with the weights for my first exercise the night before.
Cue up your favorite playlist that gets you pumped and energized, or download a podcast that you’re excited to hear.
THINK AHEAD TO ANY OBSTACLES (WHAT COULD GO WRONG?)
I've tried this enough times that I know what could go wrong. I'll set my alarm, and when it goes off, I'll decide I'm too tired and go back to bed. End of project morning workouts.
If you’ve tried to get up early to workout and failed (like me, countless times) you have an arsenal of information to use for future success. Think about what went wrong. Why didn’t you get up when you said you would? How can you handle the situation differently next time? We didn’t fail, we got another opportunity to try and learn from our mistakes.
The main reason I fail at morning workouts is that I am foggy-brained in the morning, and I make bad decisions without thinking them through. I forget in those early minutes why it is important to me.
I'll combat this by keeping my phone in another room so that I must get out of bed to turn it off.
Then I'll leave a note for myself next to my phone reminding my sleepy self why we want to do this in the first place.
I’ll remember that I wanted to get up early. No one is forcing me.
I'll ban the snooze button. No one ever felt more refreshed with eight extra minutes of sleep. It only makes it worse (ask your spouse).
I'll make sure I get to bed early enough that I'll still get adequate sleep with my earlier wake-up time.
I’ll turn on the lights, drink water, brew a pot of coffee, and brush my teeth to build a ritual around morning workouts.
Think through what could go wrong, and what has gone wrong in the past, and make a plan to overcome.
I’m writing this blog post to give you helpful tips for morning workouts, but more importantly, to build accountability. Feel free to Tweet at me, “Hey Lea, Didya get up?” Just the thought that someone might ask me will help me make the right choice. Use peer pressure to your advantage.
Meet a friend in the early hours.
Find a friend with the same goal and text or call each other in the morning for accountability.
Join an early class or run group.
Make a bet with someone that you’ll do it (if you don’t do what you say, you have to pay out).
Write a blog post, post your goal on Instagram or Facebook. Create accountability.
Make it a game. Print out a calendar and place it on your fridge. Every day you get up early mark the date with an X. See how many days in a row you can “win.”
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New on the strength and running blog —coming Monday morning (link in profile) I’m posting this early for accountability. If I tell everyone I’m getting up early to workout I may feel more obligated to do it. Tip: get support! Tomorrow morning read my tips for when you tried to build a morning exercise routine and failed #fortworthtrainer #fortworthblogger #healthylifestyle #morningworkouts #trainertips #mondaymorning #morningcomesearly #motivationmonday
TAKE ACTION (AKA JUST DO IT)
There’s nothing left, but to do it. You stated your goal, you made a plan, you thought through your obstacles, and you got support. Now it’s time to take action—the most important piece.
Who’s with me?
Did you like this post? Do you know someone who might benefit? It helps me when you share with your friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Questions? I’d love to help.