If you want to set yourself up for a great day, start with a wake-up workout! Yes, you can work out at any time of the day, and a lot of folks tend to save their workouts for the evening. But, there are a lot of advantages to getting it done early, and you might really enjoy this quick morning workout more than you anticipated.
What are the Benefits of a Morning Workout?
At the end of the day, what matters most is that you consistently get your exercise done, whether that’s a wake-up workout, a noon-time regimen, or an evening exercise routine. But if you’d like to rise and shine in the morning, there are some great reasons to do so. Take a look at the reasons why you, too, might want to join the morning wake-up workout crowd:
1. Set yourself up for success—there’s just something about the way you start your day that sets up the rest of your day. When you start your day with a solid morning routine that includes exercise, you put yourself in a health-minded mode that can keep you on the nutritional straight and narrow all day long.
Since you started your day right, you’ll want to keep that trend going by making other healthy choices throughout the day, and sabotaging with unhealthy food choices, for example, after your hard morning workout will seem like a really bad idea.
2. Exercise is a priority and gets done—when you put your training first, it’s much more likely that you’ll get it done. It’s much too easy to push off exercise until the end of the day, and then, mysteriously, just never seem to be able to get to it.
3. Boost your metabolism—that’s right, when you start your day with a great workout, you jumpstart that metabolism and set your body on a fat-burning mission for the rest of the day.
4. Get your head straight from the get-go—exercise is a potent mood lifter as well as a known stress reliever. Starting your day with a workout can put you in a good mood and provide resilience against the upcoming stressors of the day.
5. Energy boost—yes, expending energy can actually help you gain energy. Sound counterintuitive? Maybe, but your morning exercise will help shuttle extra oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, and you’ll find yourself feeling less fatigued and more alert.
6. Appetite suppressant—yes, exercise can help blunt the hunger pangs you may feel during the day. When you exercise, you actually lessen the effects of the hunger hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin helps monitor and control your appetite, and when you exercise, you reduce ghrelin and actually increase the hormones that make you feel full.
7. Sense of accomplishment—if you start out your day with a workout, you’ll be able to check off that box first thing in the morning, giving you a boost of self-confidence and a sense of control over your body and your day.
To Eat or Not to Eat Before Your Wake-Up Workout
So, the age-old question is, should you or should you not consume a meal before a morning workout and why?
Fasted Cardio—the premise behind this style of training is that during the night, you’ve broken down and used all the glucose/carbs in your bloodstream for energy (since you haven’t had a chance to eat while you’ve been sleeping). At some point during the night, your body then switched over to burning fat for fuel.
So, the theory goes that by not eating anything in the morning before your cardio or training session, you can continue to burn fat exclusively for fuel during your workout, thereby burning more fat than you would if you ate first.
No-Carb Cardio—if you’re not in the fasted cardio camp, then consider doing a wake-up workout with no carbs. Eating carbs pre-workout will only serve to provide your body with fuel for the workout, and it’s going to use that fuel before it ever switches over to fat burning.
Instead, try downing a low-carb or no-carb protein shake before training to give your body the building blocks it needs to preserve the muscle but still burn the fat.
Try This Morning Wake-Up Workout
If you’re short on time in the mornings, you may like this quick wake-up workout as it runs only about 20 minutes.
Begin with a five-minute warmup.
1. Sun salutations—start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart and your arms straight down at your sides. Breathe in and slowly raise your arms out to the sides and upwards as you look up toward the sun. Then bring your outstretched arms and palms together above your head and get a full stretch through your body. (Remember to keep your shoulders down.) Release your arms back down to your sides as you slowly breathe out and bend forward, placing your hands on the ground in front of you or on your shins if you’re not feeling flexible. Get a full stretch through your back and hamstrings before slowly returning to the standing position as you breathe in deeply. Repeat five times, following your breath.
2. Body squats—do body squats consecutively for one full minute. Begin with your legs hip-width apart or wider. Place your hands on your hips and kick your hips out behind you as you bend at the knees, keeping your chest up and open. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, spring back up to standing and repeat.
Rest for 30 seconds.
3. Plank—get down on your hands and knees. Next, get up onto your toes and lift your upper body, with your forearms resting on the floor, while keeping your back, hips, and legs in a straight line. Keep your head neutral (look down with your chin pointed slightly forward) and hold this position for one minute.
Rest for 30 seconds.
4. Jumping Jacks—stand with your feet together. Bend slightly at the knees and then jump up and out, so you land with your feet about hip-width apart or slightly wider, while, at the same time, bringing your arms out and together over your head. As you bring your arms down, jump again to bring your feet together. Repeat for one minute.
If the impact of jumping jacks is too hard on the joints in your feet, ankles, or knees (especially first thing in the morning), just step out one leg at a time as you move your arms overhead. You’ll still get your heart pumping to increase your energy levels!
Rest for 30 seconds.
5. Push-ups—begin on your hands and knees. Straighten your legs and get up onto your toes. Straighten your arms and place your palms on the ground directly in line with your shoulders. Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the ground and then push up through your chest and arms to return to the starting position. Repeat for one minute.
You can also drop down onto your knees to complete these, or if your upper body is feeling tight or tired, you can start by doing wall pushups. Just place your hands on a wall about shoulder-width apart and step your feet back so that your body is leaning toward the wall in a straight line. Bend the elbows and lean further into the wall, and then straighten them to return to the starting position. As you gain strength, you can place your hands on a surface that’s a bit lower, such as a countertop, table, bench, or even stair. Choose an angle that’s challenging but doable until you have gained the strength to do a full horizontal pushup on the ground. And remember to push yourself, so you continue to improve.
Rest for 30 seconds.
You can repeat the sequence at your discretion, depending on how much time you have and how you feel. After you’re done, you can move forward with your day feeling more energized and self-confident. Great job!