Exercising in the morning is something I’ve struggled with for years but I’ve finally cracked it and I can officially call myself a morning exerciser!
I’ve been trying to get into a routine of exercising in the morning for years. In fact, I think it’s been my New Year’s Resolution since I was about 15!
Last year, I mentioned on Instagram that I wanted to exercise in the morning but I just couldn’t motivate myself to get up early enough. On the rare occasion I did get up earlier, I felt too hungry and too weak to exercise. So then I’d eat and then I was then too full to exercise!
You can see where I’m going with this! Honestly, I had an excuse for everything.
I was (kind of) trying and I just felt like my body didn’t want it to happen!
So I asked for some tips and to see what other people did. The response was overwhelming (thanks guys!) and you had some great advice to share.
Over the past few months I’ve been putting your advice to good use and I can officially call myself a morning exerciser! I’m not a fitness expert or anything. I’m just a normal, busy mum who is juggling all the balls and struggling to find time for myself so, if anyone is in a similar situation, I really hope you find this blog post useful!
I’ve exercised almost every morning for the past five months and now I’m in a routine with it I can’t imagine not doing it. (I honestly didn’t think I’d ever say those words!)
So let’s get on with it and I’ll share my tips to help you exercise in the morning and develop a solid morning workout routine!
Why am I exercising in the morning?
The main reason I’ve been exercising in the morning is because, even with the best intentions, evenings can get busy and I don’t get a chance.
I actually love a good workout at about 6pm. It gives me a much-needed hit of energy to get me to the end of the day (and dinner tastes even better after exercising!) I want to exercise for my health and wellbeing and maintain a healthy weight. I also have high blood pressure so I know that regular exercise is really important to keep my heart healthy.
But between after-school clubs, unfinished work, kid’s bedtimes, household chores, spontaneous visits from friends and family or an enticing bottle of wine in the fridge…evening workouts often don’t happen!
Exercising in the morning means it’s over and done with before the day has even begun, there’s no chance to make excuses or talk yourself out of it and there’s nothing out of your control that will stop you.
But how do you manage to get up early to exercise!?
My morning exercise routine
We have three kids (George (6), Joseph (5) and Alba (2) and here’s what our mornings look like…
- 6.20am – Get up
- 6.20-6.40 – Have a coffee and watch cartoons with the kids (I’m not a morning person so I definitely don’t spring out of bed full of energy. I need this 20 minute cuddle on the sofa as much as they do!)
- 6.40-7.30 – Make the boy’s packed lunches, empty the dishwasher, get breakfast for the boys, get the boys uniforms ready, help Sam get Alba dressed and ready for nursery
- 7.30 – Sam leaves for work and I like to be on my Peloton bike as he walks out the door
- 7.30-7.50 – 20 minute ride on the Peloton
- 7.50 – 8.00 – Strength class
- 8.00 – 8.10 – Yoga or stretching class (I don’t always do this)
- 8.10 – Make sure the boys have eaten and are starting to get ready for school
- 8.10 – 8.30 – Shower and get dressed
- 8.30 – Put the washing machine on
- 8.30 – 8.40 – Keywords/spellings/reading with the boys
- 8.40 – Have an argument with Joseph because he still isn’t dressed, wants more breakfast, hasn’t brushed his teeth and his bedroom is a tip (every damn day!)
- 8.45 – Hustle everyone out the door!
As you can see, it’s a bit of a rush but it works for us. I do find that I need to plan my workouts the night before and have everything out ready. I don’t have time to spend 10 minutes scrolling through my workout app looking for a perfect yoga class so I have to figure it out the night before.
I also get my workout clothes out so they’re ready and if I have somewhere I need to be in the morning then I’ll get my outfit ready too. I work from home 90% of the time so I usually just chuck some leggings and a jumper on.
Let’s get into my 20 tips for exercising in the morning
1. Stop making excuses
It’s time for a bit of tough love. Stop making excuses and just get on with it.
We could all find 101 excuses to not workout…. but do you know who does workout? It’s the person who stops making excuses and just gets on with it! We all have other things we could be doing, there’s nothing unusual about that! Stop with the excuses and just do it.
It’s not about having time. No one has time. It’s about making time.
And if you want health and fitness to be a priority in your life then you need to make time.
2. Accept that the thing that’s stopping you, is you
A bit more tough love here. The only thing that is actually stopping you from exercising in the morning is you.
If you really wanted to do it, you’d do it. So you need to ask yourself, ‘What is stopping you?’
3. Ask yourself what you find hard about exercising in the morning?
Make a list of all the things that are stopping you exercising in the morning and figure out ways to overcome them.
Here’s what my list would have looked like and how I overcame them:
I have too much to do in the morning – Do most of that stuff the night before
I don’t have time to get to the gym and back – Find a home workout you can stick to
I’m too hungry to exercise first thing – Have a strong coffee and get on with it
I need to get the kids ready for school – Organise it so they can get themselves ready (I leave all the breakfast stuff out for them and put their school uniforms on their beds)
I have no motivation – Start small and the buzz of feeling healthy soon becomes a source of motivation
I can’t get out of bed – Organise your day so you don’t need to get up THAT much earlier
I don’t know what exercise to do – Plan what you’re doing the night before so you don’t need to think about it (I like the Peloton stacks for this where you save classes and can then play them back to back)
I still struggle – Just do 10 minutes of something (anything!) before you get in the shower. If you’re having a shower you might as well get a bit sweaty for it.
4. The joy of little and often
I’ve struggled to exercise (whether it’s in the morning or not) for so long because I’ve been trying to do too much. In the past I’d always gone to the gym for at least an hour and I’d done a mixture of cardio and strength and stretching and I felt like this is what a good workout should be (although, let’s be honest, I barely ever did it because I didn’t have the time or motivation for that!)
When I started out with my morning exercise I was doing 15-20 minute workouts. Nothing more.
Even I can do 15 minutes! And you’d be amazed at what you can get done in 15 minutes.
The amazing thing is that I’ve seen bigger and better results with daily 15 minute workouts in comparison to one big workout a week.
And what’s even more amazing is that I enjoy it. I genuinely enjoy it so I don’t dread the thought of it and that’s way more important than anything else!
Little and often is the way to go! Some mornings I wake up with loads of energy and I’ll do 45 minutes and other mornings I’m flagging so it’ll just be a quick workout.
Start your morning exercise routine with something simple. Really simple. No, simpler than that.
The barrier for entry needs to be SO LOW that you can’t talk yourself out of it.
Maybe you’ll keep doing that or maybe you’ll work up to something bigger. Either way, just do something.
If you’re interested in the concept of little habits having huge impacts then I highly recommend reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s about how tiny changes can change your life. I read it AND listened to it on Audible and I feel like I brainwashed myself into believing every word he said! I usually live by the mantra, ‘Go big or go home!’ so this book was revolutionary for me!
Take a look at my Atomic Habits summary here for more info about the book.
5. Stop telling yourself it needs to be perfect
Something that held me back from exercising in the morning was this feeling that my workout had to be ‘perfect’. Whatever a perfect workout even is!?
6. Something is better than nothing
Remember that something is always better than nothing. You need to genuinely believe this to make it work too.
It definitely helped me when I realised that even a 20 minute workout was doing so much for me both physically and mentally. I feel so good after it and that 20 minute flies by so quickly.
7. Find a home workout you love
OK, this is fluffy advice that doesn’t help unless you manage to find that dreamy workout you love, but when you do you’re halfway there!
Like many people, I cancelled my gym membership during lockdown 2020 and I can confidently say I will never join a gym again.
It took me a while to find a home workout I love, but now that I’ve found it I love the ease of exercising at home. It saves me so much time and there’s no juggling of schedules to make sure I can get childcare while I go to the gym!
It was a big investment but I finally bought a Peloton bike and it was the best money I’ve spent!
Read more: Peloton Review: Should I buy a Peloton bike?
For many people, a home workout won’t necessarily be any cheaper than a gym membership. By the time you’ve bought some equipment and signed up for any online classes it might actually be more expensive. But I personally think it’s worth it for the time you save and the flexibility it provides.
8. Drink a strong coffee as soon as you wake up
If you don’t have the energy to exercise as soon as you wake up then I highly recommend having a very strong coffee. Many people told me they’ll have a coffee and a banana just before they workout to combat that lack of energy lots of us feel in the morning!
I struggled with this because I’m hungry when I first wake up. But then if I eat anything I want to wait 30 minutes for my breakfast to go down. And then I’ve lost the motivation…
I’ve always been more of a tea drinker than a coffee drinker so waking up and having a strong coffee didn’t come naturally, but it gives me that quick boost of energy I need without having to eat a full breakfast!
We have the Vertuo coffee machine by Nespresso and it’s a quick and easy way to get a good coffee first thing!
9. Have a mantra to get you through exercising in the morning
I’m still very enthusiastic about my morning workouts but I do have the odd morning where I’m not fully in the mood. On these mornings I need my mantra.
My mantra is, ‘You’ll be in the shower by 8am!’
No matter how hard it feels, the thought of having a lovely hot shower by 8am pulls me through. I know I’ll feel amazing and this horrible feeling will be forgotten and I’ll be so proud of myself.
I don’t know why but the thought of being in the shower by 8am is more motivating to me than anything like, ‘You’ll be finished in 15 minutes.’ I need something immediate to look forward to that reminds me I’ll just be getting on with my day like normal in a few minutes time and this will all be forgotten!
Find your mantra and it makes all the difference.
10. What if you’re feeling really hungry during your morning workout?
The advice here is simple:
Power through and get over it.
Do a short workout and eat as soon as you’re done! You do actually get used to it and you realise you don’t need to be scared and you’re not going to faint!
It wasn’t advice I liked at first but I’ve actually accepted it now and it’s working for me.
I’m sure there are experts out there who would disagree. Working out on an empty stomach forces your body to use your fat reserves for energy. For some people this might be a good thing but for other people it might make you feel shaky and nauseous. There’s also the suggestion that it will encourage your body to store more fat if it knows you’re going to be regularly delving into those fat reserves!
Another very vital point is that it’s unlikely you’re going to be setting any records if you’re exercising in the morning on an empty stomach as you won’t have the energy to reach your full potential.
These are all valid points but, for me personally, exercising on an empty stomach is better than not exercising at all.
11. Start your new morning exercise routine at the weekend…
…or on a day where you can have a slow morning.
If you’re really struggling then I definitely think it’s worth starting on a day when you don’t need to begin super early. I actually got into my new morning exercise routine during the Christmas period when we weren’t rushing to get out of the house each morning. I could do it all fairly slowly and ease myself into it.
12. Don’t get up any earlier
One of things stopping me from exercising in the morning was the thought of getting up even earlier each morning! It’s partly because I love my sleep and struggle to get up early and partly because I didn’t want to wake the rest of the family up any earlier than they needed to be up!
So how do you squeeze in a morning workout without getting out of bed earlier…?
13. Do all of your morning jobs the night before
So this was really the game changer for me. I started doing all the little jobs I do in the morning the night before.
I actually don’t need to do this anymore but when I was first getting started I’d do this to make sure my mornings were so simple.
I’d make the kid’s packed lunches, make sure their school uniforms are ready, get out the cereal and bowls for breakfast so they’ll help themselves, get my outfit ready, empty the dishwasher, put the washing machine on and make sure the kitchen is tidy before I go to bed.
These are all little jobs that don’t feel like they take a lot of time but they easily add up to 30-40 minutes.
15. Set yourself an achievable goal
Having a weekly or monthly goal can be a motivating way to keep up with your new routine.
I’m doing a yearly Peloton challenge to workout for 10,000 minutes in 2022. I’ve done just over 800 in January and I’m finding this a weirdly motivating way to keep it up! I didn’t think things like this would motivate me but they do, especially when I can see how many minutes other people are doing!
16. Find an accountability buddy
One thing I really like about the Peloton app is that all your friends can see your workouts. It motivates me just knowing people will see it!
17. Parents, don’t put too much pressure on yourselves
I’m adding this one because I know lots of parents read my blog and there will be lots of you with young children who want to carve some time out for themselves and exercise. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you’ve got a baby waking up in the night then you’re going to be exhausted.
Alba is nearly two and a half and Sam and I have only just got to a point where weI feel like we’ve got the energy to exercise!
Kids grow up. It really won’t be long until they’re sleeping better and become more independent, giving you a bit of free time to exercise.
18. It REALLY helps if your partner is into it too
I got the Peloton bike last summer but Sam only started using it towards the end of the year and it helps me so much knowing that he exercises too. We never exercise together. We don’t do the same classes and we have very different goals. Sam also exercises at night time whereas I’m finding the morning workouts are way better.
I know this is a bit of a non-tip because if your partner or BFF or housemate or whoever doesn’t want to exercise then there’s not a lot you can do to change that. But if you start this journey together then you’re much more likely to stick to it together.
19. Having a holiday booked really helps!
As much as I love to say that exercising is about feeling good and all about my physical and mental health, it is also about looking good in a bikini!
We actually don’t have a summer beach holiday booked but we are getting married in June so that’s a big motivator! And as you can’t get married every year, it’s probably better to just book a beach holiday.
20. Sometimes IT IS about waiting for the right time
I’ve left this one until last because many of us can waste our lives waiting for the ‘right time’ when sometimes, the right time will never come. We often have to make it the right time.
But…sometimes timing is everything.
For me, it was exactly the right time to start a morning exercise routine.
For the past 7 years I’ve basically been pregnant or had a newborn baby or breastfeeding or up every few hours in the night but we’re now at a stage in our family life where I have a bit more time for myself.
I couldn’t have done this two years ago because I had three kids aged four and under.
If you’re at a phase in your life where you’re simply juggling too many balls to make it happen then don’t worry about it, just make sure your making adjustments to make sure it can happen in the future.
There you have it. My 20 tips for exercising in the morning! If you have any more of your own suggestions then please do add them to the comments below as I’d love to see what other people do to stay motivated.
7 months with a Peloton bike: Is the Peloton bike worth it?