5 Steps to Your Best Morning Workout

How to Become a Morning Workout Person—Once and For All

Get up, get sweaty, get on with your day.

By Alyssa Sybertz and Anne Roderique-JonesUpdated March 20, 2023


While we believe that the best time of day to work out is whenever you have time, a 2018 survey from YouGov found that 50 percent of US adults who exercise prefer to do so in the morning, waking up with the birds and starting their days on an endorphin-fueled high. But let’s face it: Not everyone is a morning person who can easily jump into an early a.m. workout routine.

If that’s you, maybe you’ve wondered whether it’s possible to find a morning workout routine that you can actually stick to. Here, learn the five proven steps that will help you become an early bird in no time; plus, we’ll tackle commonly held myths that might be keeping you from crushing that morning workout.

First: Are You Really Ready for Morning Workouts?

If you’ve never leapt out of bed at 5 a.m., ready to greet the day and jump on your Bike, it’s not your fault. In fact, there’s an area of scientific study dedicated to so-called early birds and night owls: chronotypes, a.k.a. the natural inclination of your body to sleep and wake during certain hours, according to the Sleep Foundation.Thanks to genetics, some people are more inclined to feel awake and alert in the morning, while others feel their best later in the day.

Regardless of whether you identify as an early bird or a night owl, the best time of day to work out is the time you’ll be able to commit to consistently, says Keeley Mezzancello, registered dietitian and certified health and wellness coach with Wellview Health. “We are humans with lives, including families, schedules, and preferences, and choosing your workout time is not simply a black and white matter,” points out Mezzancello. So give yourself some grace if a morning workout just doesn’t seem to fit your life.

And whether you set that alarm for 4 a.m. or 8 a.m., it’s the quality of rest that matters. “Plenty of successful and productive people do seize the day as early birds, but I would emphasize the importance of adequate sleep for health promotion, aiming for 7 to 9 hours per night for adults,” she explains. “You’re more likely to get that workout in when you wake up feeling rested.”

Benefits of Exercising in the Morning

If you do end up setting that early alarm, there are evidence-based advantages to morning workouts. Here’s what benefits you enjoy by sweating it out in the a.m.:

  • Fewer interruptions: For parents or people with demanding careers, an early workout often lessens the chance that you’ll get interrupted by something urgent.

  • Convenient schedule: Evenings are often filled with social plans, after-school activities, or simply relaxing. Swapping your workout to the morning means your evenings get to stay as they are.

  • Improved mood: With all the post-workout endorphins coursing through your body, you’ll enjoy the perks of a better mood all day long (your co-workers will thank you).

  • Sense of accomplishment: Whoa, you did a 20-minute Tabata class before most of the world was even awake? That’s a major win—and a big confidence boost that will carry over to other areas of your life.

Building a Morning Routine That Sticks

So, you’re intrigued by the benefits of a morning workout routine and want to test-drive it for yourself. But it’s not quite as simple as setting your alarm for early o’clock. You’ll enjoy much more success by creating an intentional, sustainable routine that you’re able to stick to, even when you’re struggling.

Try these strategies for building a morning exercise routine that you’ll actually be able to maintain.

Prepare for Your Workout the Night Before

As the saying goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail — and your successful morning workout routine actually starts the night before. If you’re planning to work out first thing in the a.m., pull out your workout clothes and shoes and fill your water bottle the night before. If you’re getting dressed in the closet or bathroom to avoid waking your partner, place your outfit there so you don’t need to fumble in the dark.

Finally, make sure you’re going to bed early enough to get the rest you need (trust us, that’ll make getting up much easier than if you stay up late on a Netflix binge). Taking care of these preparatory steps before you hit the sack will streamline your journey from bed to Tread, Bike, or mat.

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Via Member @jennmarierealty

Be Smart About Technology

You’ve likely heard that using your phone in bed isn’t great for restful sleep. Exposure to blue light (a.k.a. the light on your phone screen) suppresses your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel drowsy at night. So, try your best to cut back on phone use in bed, advises Art Markman, professor of psychology at the University of Texas and author of Bring Your Brain to Work — especially if you’re prone to late-night social media scrolling, which can make you lose track of time and put you in a negative headspace. If that sounds familiar, you might benefit from leaving your phone out of arm’s reach at night.

And bonus: If you keep your phone (or old-fashioned alarm clock) out of reach, you’ll be much less likely to hit the snooze button and get back in bed. While you’re at it, ditch the dreaded beep or shrill ring and choose a song that will instantly put you in the right mood and mindset to attack your workout and then your day. You deserve to wake up on a happy note.

Down a Glass of Water

Before your morning workout routine officially starts, you’ve got to hydrate. As soon as you wake up, drink 8 to 16 ounces of water. The body needs water to lubricate the joints and transport fuel to your muscles during your workout, so it’s crucial that you start drinking before you start sweating.

As far as eating before your workout, there are different benefits to getting some pre-workout nutrition as well as to exercising on an empty stomach, so research the right routine for you (and consult with your own doctor or nutrition pro for extra help).

Do a Light Warm-up

While you’re sleeping, your heart rate and circulation both slow down. So before you start working at a high intensity, you need to ensure that your entire body is warm, that your blood is ready to transport fuel to your muscles, and that your muscles are ready to work. You can accomplish all of these with a light warm-up routine. Start with a 5 or 10 Minute Warm-Up Ride, Run, or Full Body Stretch on the Peloton App, or try some dynamic moves such as jumping jacks or high knees before your workout begins.

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Develop a Consistent Routine

On the days when you’re not feeling motivated, you’ll need to call on your discipline — and your commitment to a consistent morning workout routine. Keep a habit of getting up at the same time and going through the same steps leading up to your morning workout. You can even make a deal with yourself that you’re allowed to quit after 10 minutes if you’re not feeling it; that way, you’ve at least moved a little, and who knows? Maybe you’ll want to keep going.

You can even add in an extra layer of accountability by making fitness an appointment you know you’ll keep. Whether it's via a Peloton Program or Challenge, a calendar reminder, or a live class with a friend, committing to a set time at which you need to have your workout selected and be ready to go will increase your motivation and likelihood of completing your workout before the rest of your day begins.

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Via Member @sarah_m_finch

Morning Workout Myths

Maybe you’ve never believed you could stick to a morning exercise routine, whether it’s because you don’t know how to fuel your body or you feel pressure to follow certain aspirational routines. Here, we break down the most common myths about morning workout routines—and what you really need to know for a successful morning.

Myth: Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Some people just don’t care about breakfast, but is that impeding our successful morning? Mezzancello notes that this is a long-debated topic, especially now that intermittent fasting has gained popularity. Plus, there are studies that show a healthy breakfast has major advantages.

However, “nutrition is not a one-approach-fits-all matter, so if a patient comes to me adamant about skipping breakfast, we find other ways to work on their health goals, sometimes including a morning snack or mini-meal instead of a full-fledged breakfast,” she explains. “I am for listening to your body and not being SO rigid with timelines.” Bottom line: If an early breakfast doesn’t agree with your body, skip it.

Myth: Start the Day with Meditation

To some, meditation might be intimidating, unfamiliar, or a surefire way to (accidentally) fall back asleep. Rather than over-focusing on whether or not you should meditate, Markman says to start the day in a way that gets you ready to face what’s ahead of you. For people who need an oasis of calm before starting the day, meditation might be the solution.

“If you are prone to ruminating about bad things, then some mindfulness exercises can help you get going with a clean slate." However, he says, "If you tend to be focused on being productive first thing in the morning, then use your morning to plan for the day and to set an agenda to make sure you hit the ground running. That is, meditation is great, but it doesn't help everyone.” (Not sure where to start? Try a meditative workout — here’s how.)

Myth: Eat Your Frog

This productivity maxim comes courtesy of Mark Twain, who opined, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." In other words, tackle your day's toughest job early when your mental energy is at its highest. Markman suggests tackling difficult things early in the day, but not necessarily first thing. “If you wake up knowing that you should face a significant challenge, it can put you into an avoidance mode first thing in the morning, which can lead to procrastination.”

Instead, he suggests planning to start your day with a quick victory. “Do a small task that you can both enjoy and complete to get a little hit of satisfaction to get rolling. Then, use that energy and momentum to take a bite of the frog.”

Myth: Eat All Your Carbs in the AM

Studies have suggested that your body is better at burning carbs in the morning, which might make you wonder if it’s necessary to nix that nightly dinner roll. “This is simply a suggestion that I would flat out say NO to, keeping in mind feasibility and how they will feel during their day,” says Mezzancello.

She’s all for making mostly smart carbohydrate choices, such as produce, whole grains, and keeping portions in check. Enjoy your evening carbs with total peace of mind — and if you have a morning workout coming up, consider chowing down on whole-food, high-quality carbs the night before a cardio session, and adding in some lean protein if you’re planning to strength train.

Even if you’re not naturally a morning person, the benefits of building a morning workout routine may win out over your night owl tendencies. By preparing the night before, hydrating and fueling properly, taking on a warm-up, and developing a consistent routine, you’ll be well on your way to a morning exercise routine that you actually enjoy.


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