You set your alarm a hour earlier than usual, determined to override your anti-morning ways and become the elusive “morning exercise person” you’ve always desired to be. (You know, the one who seems to have her entire life together by 9 a.m.) But how frequently do you actually wake up when the alarm goes off, just as motivated to get to the gym as you were the night before? Answer: Not frequently.
But there’s reason to strive for that “morning person” label: Research shows those who wear it proudly are more likely to be successful, have a decreased risk of developing depression, and are less likely to procrastinate. Not to mention, morning exercise has been linked to increased fat burn, reduced unnecessary calorie consumption, lower blood pressure, and lower diabetes risk.
It’s not an instantaneous transformation, though, and it can take a while to coach yourself into rising with the sun. That’s why we’ve compiled a month’s worth of tips and tricks to help you slowly but surely become the morning exercise person of your dreams. The main strategy: Move your bedtime and wake-up time up by 15 minutes each day until you reach your goal wake-up time, then hold on to that schedule until it sticks. Along the way, take note of how much sleep you need to function at 100. “Sleep need is like height. We are all different and it is, to a large extent, genetically determined,” says Neil Stanley, Ph.D., a sleep expert who’s studied the area for 33 years. “Most people need between seven and nine hours to feel at their best, but some need more or less—whatever allows you to feel awake, alert, and focused during the day.” (In case you missed it, here’s how to eat your way to better sleep.)
Keep tabs on the hacks that work best for you, and use them to maintain that morning exercise routine going long past the 30-day mark.
Week 1: Start Small
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Most individuals rise from their sleeping spot with just enough time to complete the necessary pre-work preparation without any additional minutes. During this week, gradually set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each day. This will provide enough time to incorporate a small dose of wellness into your morning routine and slowly adjust your internal clock without overwhelming yourself. Stanley advises, “If you desire to modify your sleep schedule in any way, it is crucial to do it gradually.”
In order to accommodate a shift in wake-up time for your morning exercise, your bedtime also needs to be adjusted. Ensure that you go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day to guarantee that you obtain an adequate amount of sleep for optimal health. By the way, this aligns with the genuine definition of a “good night’s sleep.”
Day 1: Consume Some H2O
During the night, place a full glass or water bottle beside your bed. As soon as you hear the alarm in the morning, start sipping. Not only will you be mostly awake by the time you finish the glass, but you will also help rehydrate your body after hours of sleep, just in time for your morning exercise. An additional benefit is that a study discovered that consuming water at the beginning of the day increases metabolic rate by 30 percent.
Day 2: Commence with Mobility
Even if your mind vehemently protests when the alarm goes off, you can get your body on board with morning exercise by preparing it with a little morning mobility. Follow this in-bed morning mobility routine from Jen Fraboni, a physical therapist and Pilates instructor based in Los Angeles. This routine will get your blood flowing, awaken your mind, and activate your nervous system for the day.
“There is a reason why we naturally feel inclined to stretch in the morning,” says Fraboni. “Your body has been immobile and rigid throughout the night. The connective tissue that envelops the muscles (fascia) is highly innervated and responds favorably to stretching and movement, making it an excellent way to kickstart movement for the day.”
For extra credit, try her before-bed mobility routine before falling asleep too. “A fantastic way to reduce stress, lower cortisol levels, and prepare the body for rest is through diaphragmatic (belly) breathing,” she suggests.
“It alleviates myofascial tension throughout the body, enhances oxygenation to the muscles, and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system—our autonomic system responsible for rest and relaxation—assisting in inducing a state of relaxation for sleep.” (These 10 yoga postures can also aid in unwinding before bedtime.)
Day 3: Perform Morning Yoga
The trendiest new yoga studio in town? Your bedroom. Unroll your mat in the evening so you can seamlessly transition into a morning flow the following day. This 14-posture invigorating yoga routine is ideal for awakening your mind and body—and fitting in a little bit of morning exercise—without disrupting your morning routine. Additionally, it will assist you in starting your day in a relaxed state and potentially enhance your sleep quality at night.
Day 5: Consume Some Peppermint
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Ingesting a mint in the morning can do more than freshen your breath: One study discovered that the scent of peppermint can aid in boosting mood and mental alertness, while another study implies that consuming peppermint can significantly enhance exercise performance. Hence, renowned fitness trainer Brett Hoebel, the creator of 20 Minute Body, incorporates this practice into his daily routine every morning, whether he works out or not.
Day 6: Increase the Intensity
Think you need to travel to the gym and dedicate a full hour to sweating it out? Not really. Today, engage in a quick and intense morning workout at home. Our 4-Minute Tabata Challenge and this 10-Minute Dumbbell HIIT Routine are excellent choices.
Day 7: Make Your Bed
If you already make your bed, congratulations! You have a day off. However, if you belong to the 35 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 who don’t, that’s your prompt challenge for this morning.
Not only will tidying up your bed prevent you from re-entering it, but it will provide you with a fruitful beginning to the day. Moreover, it can genuinely impact your sleep quality the following night. Individuals who arrange their beds daily indicate experiencing a restful night’s sleep more frequently than those who neglect this practice, as stated in a study by the National Sleep Foundation.
Week 2: Master Your Evening Regimen
Rising for a morning exercise session will be far less unpleasant if you prepare for success the night prior. That’s why this week is dedicated to optimizing your nights for improved mornings. Implement these small adjustments to your bedtime regimen to become even more proficient at seizing the day.
The fundamentals: “Steer clear of intense light, physical activity, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and exercise close to bedtime,” states Jocelyn Cheng, M.D., former associate professor of neurology at the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center. “Ensure that your sleep environment is dim, chilly, and tranquil.” (And maybe consider a sleep mask.)
Regarding your sleep/wake times? Once you’ve reached your desired wake-up time to fit in your morning workout (for example, enough time to attend a 7 a.m. yoga class or go on a morning jog), you can maintain consistent bedtimes and wake-up times. If you’re still adapting, keep in mind that you shouldn’t shift your wake-up time too far ahead: “When you find it exceedingly challenging to wake, it might be because you’ve discovered the ‘limit’ of your flexibility,” says Stanley. Forcing your sleep schedule to change further may result in daytime consequences (drowsiness, foggy-headedness, increased appetite, etc.).
Day 8: Abandon Nighttime Workouts
To fully embrace the lifestyle of a morning person, you must sever ties with your habit of evening workouts. The occasional post-work exercise session is not a big deal, but if you make nighttime sweat sessions a regular occurrence, you’re likely to find it difficult to rise at your usual morning time. Still feeling restless at night? Try a 2-minute pre-bed stretch to relax and unwind before getting into bed.
Day 9: Envision It
Celebrity trainer and Lifted creator Holly Rilinger had to train herself to become a morning person—and she advocates visualization as the method to achieve it. Before going to sleep, close your eyes and imagine how your morning will unfold. At what time will you wake up, and what sound will your alarm make? How will you feel? What will be your first action? Ponder over your morning routine (the most ideal version of it) and include as many specifics as possible—that will help you genuinely believe it, which is the true key to success.
Day 10: Create a “GO” List
Even if you’re improving at being human in the morning, that just-awakened mental haze is undeniably real. To commandeer your mind into a state of productivity, create a “GO” list that you’ll have prepared with tasks to tackle first thing in the morning.
How it operates: Prior to going to sleep, jot down a list of three to five things you intend to conquer the following day—something immediate like your morning exercise, something substantial like a major project at work, or something small like scheduling a doctor’s appointment. When your alarm goes off, roll over and scan it to remind yourself why you should rise from your slumber and seize the day, instantly. (Don’t believe it? Just look at trainer Adam Rosante, who wholeheartedly believes in this practice.)
Day 11: Ready Your Coffee
If you’re one of the countless individuals who only emerge from bed for coffee (🙋), then having your java prepared and waiting could be the key to mornings that are impervious to snoozing. How? Prepare homemade iced coffee (it’s simpler than you’d imagine), allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight, and savor it swiftly, whether hot or cold, in the morning.
Day 12: Ready Your Outfit
Indeed, it’s a classic, but this go-to technique genuinely works. In the morning, choosing leggings and a top can feel more arduous than actually completing your morning workout. Lay out your ensemble in advance—evoke memories of preparing for the first day of school—and witness how it speeds up your departure from home.
Day 13: Ready Your Breakfast
Completely eliminate breakfast preparation from your morning routine by preparing it the previous night. Overnight oats are an extremely simple breakfast option. Simply mix them together the night before, and they will be readily available when you awaken and require sustenance before your morning workout.
Day 14: Disconnect an Hour Before Bed
How frequently do you position yourself in bed right on schedule…only to descend into an Instagram abyss for 45 minutes before finally succumbing to slumber? That seemingly innocuous habit is severely disrupting your sleep. A 2016 study discovered that, although all screen usage is associated with poorer and less sleep, increased screen time immediately prior to bedtime is associated with inferior sleep quality and a longer duration to enter REM sleep.
Blame the azure light emitted by your digital screens—it interferes with your body’s natural levels of melatonin (the hormone that aids your body associate darkness with sleep), disturbing your circadian rhythm and keeping your brain alert, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Tonight, abandon scrolling, streaming, and swiping for at least an hour before going to bed, and observe the impact it has on your sleep quality and the time it takes for you to fall asleep.
Week 3: Step It Up
You have now been doing this for two weeks—so there’s no need to coddle your mind and body into getting out of bed. These strategies ignite your morning with a bit more intensity. Now, you won’t just tolerate mornings, you’ll completely conquer them. (If you still require a boost, discover more about how to deceive yourself into becoming an early riser.)
Day 15: Take a Frigid Shower
Rinsing off before exercising might seem counterintuitive, but the blast of cold water can truly awaken you, according to Nike trainer Joe Holder, who does it every single day. (In case you didn’t know, you should also expose yourself to icy water after working out as well.) If you can’t be convinced to take the plunge, splashing your face can have a similar awakening effect.
Day 16: Engage in a Workout You Adore
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Indulge in a morning workout that you already enjoy—whether it’s a morning yoga session by yourself, an energizing dance cardio class, or some quality time in the boxing ring. Getting out of bed becomes much easier when it’s for something you are truly excited about.
Day 17: Illuminate Your Surroundings
Instead of reverting to the Paleolithic era with your diet, focus on your alarm clock. Dr. Cheng explains that light is a powerful environmental cue, so exposing yourself to bright light—like the sun—first thing in the morning can assist in training your circadian rhythm (a part of the brain that responds to light and darkness to signal your body to wake up or wind down, according to the National Sleep Foundation). When your eyes are exposed to light, it prompts the body to take action by doing things like increasing body temperature and producing hormones like cortisol.
If you’re not into such a brutal awakening, you can also invest in a light-based alarm clock, such as the Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light, download a light alarm application for your phone, or (depending on your wake-up time and window situation) leave your curtains open for a more gentle sunrise wake-up call.
Day 18: Pair Up
Peer pressure isn’t always negative. Make a commitment to perspire with a friend in the morning, and you’ll be held accountable for attending that morning workout. (Just one of the numerous advantages of having a fitness buddy.) To increase the stakes, agree on a “penalty” if you happen to oversleep or skip your morning exercise appointment. (For instance, the next happy hour or post-workout smoothie is on you.)
Day 19: Prompt Your Motivation
Whether it’s a kickass inspiring quote, an uplifting photograph (the last time you crossed a marathon finish line), or a countdown clock application that reminds you of an upcoming goal deadline, have something (either tangible or digital) to remind you why you’re waking up to #werk.
Day 20: Experiment with Something New
If your usual gym routine is a (literal) snooze, it’s no wonder you’re tempted to sleep through it. Today, schedule a new morning workout you’ve been eager to try. (After all, there are significant benefits to experimenting with new things.) The exhilaration of a shiny new sweat session will have you leaping out of bed like it’s Christmas morning.
Day 21: Enhance Your Bedroom
Embrace your inner domestic deity and transform your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary. To start, discover your ideal temperature: “Our body temperature fluctuates throughout the day on a circadian cycle, which in humans is about 24 hours,” explains Dr
Cheng. “Your physical heat will decrease in the evening, close to the time you go to sleep, so maintaining a lower level of temperature in your room can aid in achieving a restful state.
Week 4: Become a “Lifer”
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Stanley proposes maintaining the temperature of the room around 60 to 65°F (depending on personal choice, bedding, and whether or not you share the bed with a partner), as well as investing in “the largest, most luxurious bed you can afford.” (Hey, #treatyoself.)
Furthermore, Stanley insists on avoiding any electronic devices. This includes televisions, tablets, phones, and everything else. Go above and beyond by keeping your phone outside of your room while you sleep. This not only prevents any last-minute scrolling before bed, but the temptation to check for calls, texts, and Instagram likes might encourage you to get out of bed.
Day 22: Schedule a 1-on-1 Training Appointment
What’s more daunting than facing the anger of a friend who has been stood up for a morning workout? The fury of a personal trainer if you miss your training session. Even if you have never worked with one before, make an appointment for a private session at your gym (or even consider having one come to your home, utilizing a service like Thumbtack or Trainerize.me). This way, you won’t even think about skipping your workout—if you do, you can be certain that a burpee punishment will be waiting for you.
Day 23: Have a Screen-Free Evening
Thought giving up screens for an hour before bed was challenging? Now challenge yourself to go without them for the entire evening. Disconnect around 6 p.m. (or whenever you return home for the evening) and explore what lies beyond your Netflix watchlist. Utilize this time to refine your wind-down routine and determine which activity best calms your mind: “Stress, anxiety, and worry hinder a good night’s sleep,” says Dr. Cheng. “Ultimately, a calm mind is essential for falling asleep. If your mind is racing, sleep becomes elusive.” Starting with some self-care is a great idea, and you can find plenty of suggestions right here.
Day 24: Master Your Sleep Cycle
Struggling to master your wake-up time? Check your sleep cycle. “Utilizing a sleep cycle tracking app can provide you with a rough but imprecise estimation of how much time you remain in bed and can be beneficial for informing you about the total sleep duration necessary for functioning throughout the day,” states Dr. Cheng. Examine the statistics on your wearable device, such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit, or download the Sleep Cycle application to assist you in making adjustments accordingly.
Day 25: Make Music Your Alarm
Fitness expert Kaisa Keranen (perhaps the most impressive physically fit individual ever) rises every morning to three alarms. Determine which song provides you with the most energizing vibes and set it as your alarm, so you’ll dance (not just roll) out of bed. Additionally, have it transition into an energetic playlist that is precisely tailored to allow you to prepare and leave the house promptly each morning. This will assist in keeping you on track to hit the gym for a morning workout—no excuses allowed.
Day 26: Bribe Yourself
Whether it’s an expensive post-workout smoothie or a luxurious latte, offer yourself a tantalizing little incentive to rouse from bed and conquer your morning workout. Even better, plan a more substantial reward, such as the pair of Lululemons you’ve been eyeing or a five-class package at your preferred boutique studio, for when you have officially reached the 30-day milestone. After all, a reward serves as a much more effective motivator than punishment, declares Jin Han, M.D., associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor School of Medicine.
Day 27: Arise Early—Even On Your Rest Day
Work on consistency by waking up even if you don’t have a morning workout planned. “The most effective change that individuals can make is to have a regular, fixed wake-up time every day,” says Stanley. “Your body starts making preparations for waking approximately 90 minutes prior. If your brain knows when you’re going to wake up and this is a routine, it can prepare so that you hit the ground running.”
In other words, set your alarm for the same time every day. If you’re not perspiring, you can utilize the additional minutes to meditate, read, have coffee with a friend, or even engage in some rest-day recovery work.
Day 28: Invest Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
A good way to get out of bed? Put some cash on the line. Utilize an application like StickK to proclaim your goal, create a Commitment Contract with yourself, and even wager money. (StickK reports that financial stakes increase your chances of success by up to 3x.)
If applications aren’t your preference, enroll in a class that penalizes you for skipping. Or, go traditional and make a bet with friends or family that will compel you to pay up if you miss too many morning workouts.
Day 29: Establish a Schedule
Instead of waking up and improvising, have a schedule to make your morning workout routine feel non-negotiable. Create a timetable to align with your workout objectives and solidify your mornings for the foreseeable future. (Not sure where to begin? Here’s what experts agree is the optimal week of workouts.)
Day 30: Enroll in a Challenge
Now that you’re essentially a master at morning workouts, it’s time to set a goal for yourself. Sign up for that half marathon, obstacle course race, weight lifting competition, or other fitness challenge you’ve been longing for. Into the 30-day-challenge notion? Keep the momentum going with these possibilities:
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