In previous episodes of the podcast — namely, Designing Your Morning Ritual, and How to Make New Year's Resolutions Stick — I’ve talked about how much I love waking up and working out. The reasons for this are many, including the research-driven data that shows how exercising in the morning actually gives us MORE energy, as opposed to the widely touted myth that working out early drains us of energy.
Again, the reverse is true -- though not for every one, at least for most of us -- not only does working out in the morning help us become more energetic, it can actually set a powerful series of events in motion to help you create more productive days, weeks, months, and years for yourself.
Continue reading/listening and I'll show you what I mean...
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, 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.
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: Week 2”. 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.
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 your 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.
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, 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 into the gym. And
because it’s powdered, I put it in an empty shaker and place it next to
my bed side table (right next to a bottled 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 caffeine, branch-chain amino acids, buffered
creatine monohydrate, and arginine. But if you're looking for a set of all-in-one supplements that can give you a solid boost, without making you feel like an over-stimulated crack addict, I'd recommend Onnit Labs. They're an ethical company that produces high-grade supplements, with research-driven data to support their brands.
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 work after your workout, then bring your toiletries and work clothes with you. Most gyms have lockers. Hopefully yours is clean.
1. Plan it out
2. Envision tomorrow's workout today
3. 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 :)
4. NEVER hit the snooze button
5. Be robotic with it. Jump out of bed like a machine
6. Prepare your pre-workout supplementation for immediate consumption upon rising
7. Prepare your pre and post workout attire the night before