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When it comes to working out, let alone waking up in the morning, most of us struggle. The dreaded alarm sound rudely disrupts our slumber and we hit snooze, savoring those extra few minutes before it’s time to start our day.
That said, working out in the morning can have hugely positive impacts on your day. If you’re looking for that motivational kick-in-the-butt to get up and moving in the morning, you’ve landed in the right place.
The Benefits of Morning Workouts
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it boosts your metabolism and gives you energy. Similarly, a morning workout increases your metabolism, helping your body to burn more calories throughout the day. Moreover, researchers found that those who exercise in the morning have lower blood pressure throughout the day and get a better night’s sleep.
What If I Can’t Workout In The Morning?
Not everybody has the choice of working out in the morning, and that’s ok! While scientific research is abundant with data supporting morning workouts, there’s also distinct advantages to working out at night.
While morning workouts provide an excellent foundation for your day, afternoon and evening workouts are best for those looking to improve their strength and power. Because body temperature is lower and muscles are warmed up, your body will perform better and react faster at these times.
While both morning and evening workouts are beneficial in various ways, the general consensus is that consistency in your workout schedule is paramount. For those early birds, let’s take a deep dive into how to maximize your morning workout.
Maximizing Your Morning Workout
You’re up and out of bed and ready to get exercising! But, what type of workout should you be doing in the morning? Cardio? Strength? Should you eat before you begin? Let’s get to it.
Personal trainers urge morning newcomers to start slow and build a solid foundation to avoid injury. Because our bodies are still waking up, the chances of injury are higher for those that workout in the morning.
What Exercises Should I Start With?
Start with slower, gentler movements to get the blood pumping throughout your body.
Here’s some examples of low-impact exercises to get you started:
- Plank with Knee Tap: Start in high plank position with your arms extended fully. Bring your right knee forward and tap it with your left hand. Repeat with your left knee to right hand and duplicate for multiple rotations. Increase your speed but be careful not to drop your butt down and lose form.
- Hollow Body Hold: Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Lift your legs, shoulders and arms up off the ground while activating your core. Hold for as long as you can and bring your legs closer to the ground for increased difficulty.
- Double Leg Lift: While lying faceup on the mat, with your arms at your side, lift your legs up 90 degrees and then slowly back down. Keep your lower back on the mat the entire time and don’t let your feet hit the mat on the downward rotation.
- Squat: Stand with your feet a bit wider than your hips and put your arms straight out in front of you. Move down into a sitting position and then slowly come back up. Keep your chest lifted, back straight and activate your core.
- Reverse Oblique Crunch: Sit on the mat and extend your legs out in front of you. Lean slightly back and use your hands for balance, while keeping your elbows bent. Lean to one side and lift your legs up to your waist, then bring them back down, engaging and strengthening the abs. Don’t let your legs hit the mat on the way down. After several reps, switch to the other side and repeat.
All of these exercises are intended to boost your metabolism and energy. Curious to see more? Check out this 10 minute morning workout routine for more ideas.
Should I Eat Before My Morning Workout?
While the idea of exercising on an empty stomach is daunting, research actually recommends it for morning workouts, if your goal is to burn fat. According to a research study that tested exercise while fed vs. not fed, there was a significant increase in fat oxidation for those who exercised on an empty stomach. Fat oxidation is essentially our bodies way of converting stored fat to energy, therefore burning unwanted fat.
While burning fat is great and what most of us seek to achieve, it’s also true that eating the right type of calories before a workout is beneficial. If we don’t eat, we run the risk of using too much stored fat to provide the energy we need during exercise. In this case, we’re actually missing an opportunity to gain muscle because our body is using too many reserves to burn fuel.
Working out in the morning has fantastic benefits for the body, such as a boost in metabolism, energy and mood throughout your day. However, working out in the afternoon and evening is superior if your goal is to do high intensity, muscle building routines. Either way, the scientific consensus is to pick a time and be consistent with your workout schedules. If we do that, our bodies will adapt and we’ll have a better chance of achieving our goals once we build a solid foundation.
If you do choose to do morning workouts, warm up with low intensity exercises to ensure you don’t hurt yourself early on. Once you’ve established a routine, you can begin to explore more fast paced, rapid exercises involving cardio and power.
Brian Baxter is an athlete, coach, parent, and sport psychology consultant with over 20 years experience in youth sports. He created BaxterSports youth athletic camps to continue his work and provide a great environment for athletes to learn and grow in all aspects of life.