I love waking up early and working out. Some people think waking up early to exercise will drain their energy for the rest of the day, because they’re missing out on sleep and physically exerting themselves so early in the morning. But the reverse is actually true—exercising in the morning gives us more—not less—energy. In fact, exercising first thing in the AM can set a powerful series of events in motion to help you create more productive days, weeks, months, and years for yourself as well. It isn’t for everybody, but if it’s a habit you’ve been wanting to implement, I’ll break the process down for you in this article. Start reading or listening below.
Table of Contents
Overview: 7 Steps to Wake Up Early and Workout
- Plan it out.
- Picture yourself doing tomorrow’s workout today.
- Set it and forget it.
- Never hit the snooze button.
- Jump out of bed like a machine.
- Prep your pre-workout supplementation.
- Prepare your attire the night before.
🎧 Podcast version: Apple Podcasts • Spotify
Overview: How to Wake Up Early and Workout
Remember those silly pharmaceutical ads that harp on about curing one ailment—only to warn you about hundreds of potentially life-threatening side effects in the last five seconds of the commercial?
You know what I’m talking about…
The commercial starts off with uplifting music and clips of sunshine glimmering over a retired couple holding hands and doing vacation-esque looking things for thirty seconds; all the while there’s a seductively smooth sounding woman reading a voiceover that prompts you to, “Ask your doctor about Cialis.”
And right before they close out the commercial, you hear them sound-off hundreds of potentially life-threatening side effects.
You don’t need the drugs to get your body to produce a lot of these powerful chemicals—all you need to do is sweat. And when you do, your body and brain will produce exactly the right doses of exactly the right chemicals, to keep you feeling good.
All while avoiding the negative side effects.
The Endorphin Effect
If you wake up early and workout vigorously for a minimum of 45 minutes or more, then a naturally-produced chemical known as Endorphin begins to surge through your body, giving you a natural high (also known as “runner’s high). This chemical kicks into your body because it’s meant to mask the pain your putting your muscles through when you lift weights or do hard core cardio.
Side note: when you’re lifting weights, you’re basically ripping and tearing your muscle fibers… the reason why muscles actually grow in size isn’t because of the lifting of weights, it’s because of the eating of foods. When you tear up your muscle fibers in the gym, you need to put nutrition-dense foods back into your body in order to give them a reason to re-build… and if you want them to come back larger and stronger, it’s best to optimize your diet accordingly.
The Dopamine Effect
Now, once you’ve gotten out of the gym, you probably feel really good about yourself for having gotten up early and workout out. This then, gives you small doses of yet another naturally occurring chemical in your body, known as Dopamine, which gives you the feelings of positive reinforcement for having done a good job.
As The Day Goes On
Now you’re in your car and headed to work feeling like a champion. You already know that no one else in your peer group got up as early as you did to workout, so that just makes you feel even better. Whether that’s right or wrong is neither here nor there — but for a lot of us, it is true.
If you add a little morning meditation into the mix, that’s even better.
And if you add a little visualization and gratitude action on top of that — well, then, you’ll really be setting yourself up for a kick-ass day.
7 Steps to Wake Up Early and Workout
Now, back to waking up early and working out—how do you do it? Here are a few practical tips for making it happen:
1. Plan it out.
Plan all your workouts BEFORE you step foot into the gym.
Write it down, or get an app like Gym Buddy to keep you on track.
Having plans and goals are crucial.
Otherwise, you’ll end up screwing around and leaving early.
2. Picture yourself doing tomorrow’s workout today.
One of the things I do every night before going to bed is to whip out my phone and go over my workout routine for the following morning real quick before calling it a night.
I envision myself CRUSHING it in the gym… Performing every exercise and hitting new personal records for each of them.
Yes, it helps. And yes, it makes a difference.
Currently, I’m keeping my workouts in an Evernote checklist titled “Dean’s Training Program”. The tools I use change from time to time, but the process doesn’t.
3. Set it and forget it.
Place your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you must physically get out of bed in order to shut that thing off. I hear from people all the time how this one simple trick has helped them create a habit out of waking up early.
4. Never hit the snooze button.
“Just 5 more minutes” rarely ends up being just 5 minutes…
(Trust me, I know this from personal experience on more than one occasion.)
Do not let your mind trick you into hitting the snooze button.
Avoid waking up two hours later and kicking yourself for missing a workout, and then allowing that guilt to have a negative impact on the rest of your entire day.
It’s not worth it.
💡 Related: The Four Components of a Morning Routine »
5. Jump out of bed like a machine.
Sometimes I wake up with such force that I scare my poor wife out of her beauty sleep. You don’t need to jump right out of bed like I do, but you DO need to feel as if you wanted to.
Be robotic with it. Wake up and go.
Don’t think about how little you slept last night. Don’t think about how many things you need to do today.
As soon as your alarm goes off, get your body out of your bed and get moving.
6. Prep your pre-workout supplementation.
I like to have a pre-workout drink before I go to the gym. And because it’s powdered, I put it in an empty shaker and place it next to my bedside table (right next to a bottle of water) so that it’s ready to be consumed with my vitamins as soon as I get up in the morning.
Wondering what I put in my pre-workout drink? It varies, but it’s usually a powdered mix of:
7. Prepare your attire the night before.
I go to sleep with my gym clothes on. But I’m a dude, so that’s usually just a pair of sweats and a tank top.
If you can’t do that, then pick out exactly what you need to wear to the gym the next morning and have it ready to go.
If you go straight to work after your workout, then bring your toiletries and work clothes with you. Most gyms have lockers. Hopefully yours is clean.
Recap: 7 Steps to Wake up early and workout
- Plan it out
- Envision tomorrow’s workout today
- Set it and forget it (place your alarm clock far enough away from the bed so that you’ve got to physically get out of bed to turn it off… then STAY out of bed
- NEVER hit the snooze button
- Be robotic with it. Jump out of bed like a machine
- Prepare your pre-workout supplementation for immediate consumption upon rising
- Prepare your pre and post-workout attire the night before