My alarm goes off every weekday at 4:00 AM. I don’t hit the snooze or roll over in bed hoping the generic iPhone ring will stop. I get up and go to the gym.
And I love it.
Waking up early to workout has totally changed all aspects of my life and has enabled me to be more productive, effective, and focused throughout the day. Two years ago, I couldn’t fathom getting up at the crack of dawn. Now, I look forward to it.
I know most people shudder at the idea of setting their alarm any earlier than they already do, but let me explain some of the benefits I’ve experienced and maybe I can convince you to join me.
More Time for Family and Friends
I initially made the decision to start waking up early to workout so I could spend more time with my daughter. My normal routine was to work til about 5 PM, workout til about 7 PM, and then pick her up. With traffic, I wasn’t getting home til around 8 PM. By that time, Aubrey was already asleep. I was missing out on quality time with her, and that wasn’t ok. However, missing a workout wasn’t ok either.
The only way to do both was to move my workout to the morning. It was rough for the first couple weeks, but my body quickly adjusted, and now I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I’m able to leave work knowing that I’ve already accomplished my fitness goal for the day, so I can enjoy the rest of the night uninterrupted with my family.
The same concept works for those who want to spend more time with friends. By working out first thing in the morning, you can maintain an active social life in the evening guilt-free without sacrificing your fitness goals. It truly allows you to have the best of both worlds.
Fewer Distractions and Excuses
Here is a list of things that don’t happen at 5 AM: traffic, crowded gyms, staying late at work to make a deadline, happy hour, anniversary dinners, your child’s tee-ball game, Monday Night Football… Need I go on? All of these excuses, many of which I’ve taken from personal experience, can sabotage an evening workout. But those excuses don’t exist in the morning.
It’s no secret that the gym is a wasteland at 5 AM, so take advantage of it. You can move freely from station to station without having to wait for a machine. You can take your time with the equipment because there isn’t someone breathing down your neck to use it next. You can perform your routine exactly as programmed without rushing to finish. Your gym productivity will skyrocket.
Morning workouts also eliminate the possibility of any work, family, or social distractions getting in the way. Throughout the day, good or bad, things will happen. Those things often turn into “I can’t workout today because…” or “I don’t feel like it today because…”. Morning gym-goers don’t open themselves up to those excuses. Get your workout in first thing every day, when the rest of the world is still quiet and when you can give your full attention to the task at hand.
Rising early also gives you uninterrupted time to work on yourself outside of the gym. By waking up before you have to tend to work and family obligations, you create an opportunity to focus on personal growth. I can’t stress enough how important this is, and how much of an impact it’s had on my life.
Later in the day it’s hard to get even 15 minutes alone, and if you do it’s probably spent on social media or watching TV. I like to start every day by listening to audiobooks and podcasts. On my way to the gym and even during my warm-up, I try to dedicate my full attention to learning. There is nobody texting or emailing or tweeting me. I can really dive in and absorb what I’m listening to.
I’ve tried to listen to audiobooks during work or in the evenings, but I always end up missing huge chunks of information because I’m distracted with other things. I was never much of a reader, but audiobooks and podcasts have become a huge resource for me and have helped me implement some extremely valuable habits. I highly suggest giving them a shot if you haven’t already.
Your personal development may come from a different source. Whether it’s meditation or prayer or even working on a side business, I highly encourage setting aside some time alone to work on yourself every morning. Even if it’s just 10-15 minutes, it really sets the tone for the rest of your day.
How To Wake Up Early
Waking up early is easier than most people think, and it can reap enormous benefits. Start by establishing a routine. Successful people don’t just wake up and wing it every day, they have a schedule that keeps them constantly productive from the time they wake to the time they sleep. Plan a realistic time to wake up and stick to it.
Don’t snooze the alarm.
Start with just an hour earlier than normal. It may be tough for the first few days, but your body will adapt. Soon you’ll realize that you aren’t any more tired from 7 hours of sleep than you were with 8.
If you aren’t willing to sacrifice something as minor as an hour of sleep to achieve your goals, then chances are you just don’t care enough. Think about the value of that single hour compounded over time. In just one month, you’ll have an additional 30 hours to work on your mind and body. That’s enough time to make some serious progress.
Just as with waking up, set a time to go to sleep and stick to it. That third (or fourth or fifth) episode of House of Cards will be there tomorrow. Before you go to sleep, have your clothes for the next day laid out and your food prepped. Check the weather and your calendar to avoid any surprises. That way, when you wake up you don’t have to think. You just grab and go.
Before you know it, you’ll be a morning person too.