The Morning Workout: Your Guide to Waking up Right

We’ve all been there before. Monday morning, 6:00 a.m. — sometimes earlier — the alarm goes off. You groan, look at your phone, and hit the snooze button for an extra few minutes of that precious sleep. For some of us that extra ten minutes can feel like an hour. For others, that extra ten minutes literally turns into an hour as we slap the snooze button over and over again until sunlight bleeds through our blinds. Now you’re rushing to get ready and you barely have time to leave home with breakfast. Working out? In the morning? Not a chance in hell. That extra sleep makes you feel ten times as good as any workout would, right? Turns out, trading in that extra hour for a quick morning workout can actually offer more benefits than you thought.

Start Your Day With a Quick Morning Workout

Getting Started

Believe it or not, there are numerous health benefits to starting your mornings with exercise. Next time your alarm goes off, don’t hit snooze. Of course, you also don’t want to start with an immediate journey to the kitchen to eat breakfast. Instead, go ahead and sit in bed and stretch. Stretching can provide immediate tangible benefits, as it gets the blood flowing to parts of your body that have been resting for the last eight hours (or six, or four — we’re not judging).

When you’re done, get out of bed and hit this simple workout plan:

  • Jumping jacks, 30 seconds
  • Forearm planks, 30 seconds
  • Pushups x10 (just enough for a quick pump)
  • Crunches x20
  • Lunges x20 (10 for each leg)
  • Squats x10
  • If you have a pull-up bar, throw in 10 of those; If not, head to your bathroom counter and do 10 dips

That exercise, done properly, should take no longer than five minutes. Not only is that a quick, easy morning workout, it’s also an easy full-body workout. Hit your cardio with the jumping jacks, while the crunches and planks work your core. The squats and lunges activate your leg muscles and glutes, and the pushups and pull-ups or dips target your arms. It’s not enough to build any mass, but it’s enough to get your body going for the day.

Starting off your day with a quick workout “sets the tone” for the rest of the day, says Steve Lambert, a personal trainer at OneLife Fitness Center in Newport News, VA.

Take It From an Expert

Steve has been a personal trainer for two and a half years, helping his clients increase mobility, build muscle and lose weight — all of the typical things a trainer is supposed to do. He was able to shed some light on the benefits of morning workouts as well.

“Human beings were hunters and gatherers,” he says, “So the less you move, that’s worse for your body.” The sedentary lifestyles that most of us lead these days are, in some ways, more harmful than some of the diet choices we make. Sitting for long periods can not only stunt your metabolism, but can also lead to long-lasting back pain and a weakened immune system.

No matter what kind of work you do, he recommends waking up on the right side of the bed with a quick 15-minute workout or even a quick jog. “Getting started in the morning gets your metabolism started, so you start burning calories and fat right away.”

Starting Positive Means Starting Negative

Your typical morning probably doesn’t include a morning workout. You wake up, get ready, grab breakfast and head to work. When you get to work, you eat your breakfast sitting down. Throughout the day, you crack into your drawer full of snacks and eat some more — still sitting down. You grab lunch, you eventually head home and then you eat dinner. Maybe you hit the gym for a spin class, or an hour of weightlifting — but you spend that time burning the calories you gained throughout the day.

When you start off the day with a workout, you jumpstart your metabolism and start off with a negative calorie balance. By the time you eat breakfast (a healthy breakfast, come on now), you’re replenishing what you’ve been burning all morning. You don’t get that same effect when you exercise later in the day, you simply burn a portion of everything you’ve consumed all day.

Last Word on Morning Workouts

We know how much you love to sleep, and we’re not arguing that sleep isn’t important. If sleep is something you cherish, consider heading to bed a little earlier. Next time your alarm goes off, take our advice and start things off with a stretch. Follow that up with a quick workout, and see if you feel any better. You may not be a morning person now, but you’ll likely find that picking up a morning workout instead of slapping the snooze button can help you wake up on the right side of the bed.

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