Why morning workouts are better than sleeping?

It’s dark outside and the warmth of the bed is so inviting. The alarm clock set for 4:45am goes off and with one opened eye you press the snooze button, “it’s too cold outside” you think to yourself, “was that rain?” then you cancel the alarm deferring your well thought out exercise plans to later in the day, or worse still, tomorrow.

What happens next might look like this. You wake up at 6:30am, race out the door, grab a coffee on your way to work then straight into your first meeting. Follow that with a number of meetings and client calls before you work on that never ending list of actions that landed in your inbox overnight. Before you know it the day is almost done, your energy levels depleted and your exercise plans delayed for yet another day.

“Before you know it the day is almost done, your energy levels depleted and your exercise plans delayed for yet another day”

Now let’s explore the alternative where you jump out of bed and complete your workout early. Not only will it be a more productive workout as you’re less likely you’ll get disrupted by calls from your boss, colleagues or family members, some of the benefits from exercising early in the morning include enhanced metabolism, improved physical and mental energy and alertness, better sleep and greater success in reaching your fitness goals. Many of my clients have also attested to these benefits as well as experiencing better lifestyle habits like drinking more water and choosing healthier meals throughout the day.

Let’s consider those who value efficiency, like Tim Ferris, author of The 4 hour Work Week, whose morning ritual includes getting a workout done before sunrise; Michelle Obama, who is working out at 4:30am; Apple CEO, Tim Cook who is in the gym at 5:00am; and Cisco’s former CTO Padmasree Warrior’s whose morning routine consists of waking very early at 4:30am, reading email for an hour, getting up-to-date with current news, exercising, and prepping her son for school, all before 8:30am.

I know many will argue the pro’s and con’s of morning versus afternoon exercise, so my first rule of thumb is to find the time that works for you, commit to establishing it as a habit and get it done.

For building lean muscle (a good thing since muscle mass on untrained individuals declines after the age of 25), two important hormones related to building lean muscle, testosterone and cortisol, peaks in the morning. Testosterone is considered an anabolic hormone, that promotes increases in muscular size and strength, and cortisol is a catabolic hormone that is a precursor for the breakdown of muscle which then allows for growth.

A successful morning workout begins well in advance of the workout day. So how is it done?

Set a goal

Setting an effective fitness goal needs to be specific, i.e. drop 5kgs of fat and increase lean muscle by 1kg in the next six months as I’m going to Hawaii for a holiday and would like to be able to look good in my bikini (the more detail the better always works well).

Create an evening ritual

Many who succeed with their fitness goals do so with pre-workout day rituals, like:

  • bags packed ready to go at the front door.
  • technology-free evening wind-down affording you the best possible sleep without the stimulating effects of interacting with a device.
  • the evening meal prep that allows you to grab and go early in the morning. When you prepare your own meals you have a better way of knowing the amounts you’re consuming and there’s no hidden calories.

Give it time to create the habit

A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is a little hard to break once ingrained. Research now shows it takes a little over two months or 66 days before a new habit becomes automatic. This will vary from person to person, so be realistic about how long you need to allow to settle into the early morning workouts.

As a Coach, my job is to influence people’s behaviours and create awareness around their everyday activities and how it impacts their health and fitness. Some of the behaviour changes my clients have adopted include:

  • get to bed before 10:00pm to allow for the body to get enough deep restorative sleep required to energise the body
  • writing down their goals every day, a principle called autosuggestion
  • schedule workout times into the diary

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Tony Robbins

Test and measure

That which gets measured gets done. Whether or not this is true, the outcome of measuring data results in more information you can use to ensure progress. For many people, the simple act of measurement increases the desire and the motivation to perform. It’s a great motivator to keep you on track means seeing the results you’re achieving in your composition and performance.

Enlist accountability

The best way to ensure accountability in tracking towards your health and fitness goals is to enlist a “fitness professional” (Personal Trainer).

What makes a “fitness professional” a great Coach is their ability to keep you accountable, inspire you to be the BEST VERSION OF YOU and make positive improvements to your lifestyle that leads you in the direction of your goals.

So how do you know if your prospective trainer is a good coach? You might enquire about:

  • whether they are adequately skilled and specialised asking questions like what are you reading right now? and what courses are are you studying? A trainer who has a mindset of ongoing learning is also someone who is interested in helping clients achieve their goals.
  • whether they have helped people before. With so many opportunities by social media platforms to share success stories you should also expect to be able to see these from your potential trainer.
  • how they program for success. A professional will be able to prescribe for you a staged progression that is suited to your body and your goals. Before we run, we walk, just as simply as before we walked, we crawled. The sample principle applies to squatting and deadlifting. Our bodies must be able to take on the load correctly before loading up the bar.

One of my clients whose been successful in shedding 15kgs of body fat in 10 weeks attributes much of his success to having a coach motivate him to train at the right level of intensity with a structured program tailored to his goals, ensuring accountability by tracking and measuring results.

Whilst there aren’t many guarantees in life, one thing I’m pretty sure will be hard to challenge is that if you work out early in the morning you’ll have a much better day because of it.

Choosing exercise over sleep has given me an edge in bouncing back fitter and stronger after having two babies. It’s also helped me slow down the ageing process as my strength and fitness levels are much greater now than they were 20 years ago. Why don’t you try it over the next 7 days and let me know how you go?

For more information on how I can positively impact your life and get results with a tailored training and nutrition program that will fast track you towards your fitness goals, email me at michelle@miyagi.fitness.

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