There’s something especially serene about getting in a workout in before the sun comes up. All of the top CEOs do it (we’re looking at you, Tim Cook). And aside from the benefit of not having to deal with anyone else’s BS while you’re breaking a sweat, early morning workouts have scientifically backed benefits, too. People who fitness right after getting out of bed can see the benefits of better sleep and lower blood pressure, and may even consume less unnecessary calories throughout the day compared to those who don’t hit the gym.
But you don’t just become a member of the dawn patrol with a quick snap of the fingers. We caught up with local New York City fitness experts that rise regularly with the sun to get their best tips for conquering an early morning sweat.
1. Think bigger picture. If the only thing you’re thinking about the moment your alarm goes off is how much it’s going to suck to leave the cozy confines of your bed, then you’re doing it wrong. “It’s more than just a single workout,” says Dan Distefano, coach at Urban Athletics and Orange Theory Fitness. “Really focus in on how important each one is toward the bigger picture. Taking a step back and thinking about long term goals will help people stay motivated when their bed is feeling super comfortable.”
2. Fuel up right. “Ingest a supplement or beverage that contains 100 to 200mg of caffeine within 30 minutes of waking up,” suggests Bar Malik, CSCS and Director of Performance for the New York Knicks and Revere ambassador. “The caffeine activates areas of the brain that control adrenaline which can accelerate focus and energy when training early in the morning. It also speeds up metabolism which helps burning calories quicker leading to increased rate of fat loss when training.” (Revere’s pre-workout supplements have that Goldilocks sweet spot Malik suggests, between 100 and 200mg pending which flavor you opt for. )
3. Get the sleep you need. It’s easy to get caught up in the post-work shuffle. Before you know it, a meeting goes late, a dinner reservation gets pushed back, and soon you’re not getting ready for bed until close to midnight. Make your sleep just as much of a priority as that work meeting. (The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night).
“If you’re getting to bed at midnight or later and wanting to get up for a 6 a.m. workout, you’re not going to ace it,” says Rachel Agranove, trainer at SLT and TS Fitness. “Figure out what feels right for you and your body, and then you’ll be ready to go bright and early.”
4. Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you’re one of those people that can’t put sentences together first thing in the morning, then you’re likely not going to think clearly when getting the day’s essentials together, either. Instead of feeling super frantic rummaging around your apartment with bed head, plan ahead. “Pack your bag, lay out your clothes, and have food ready the night before,” suggests trainer Marissa Piloto. “Working backward will make the next day that much easier. Plus, it’ll help you make better decisions as the day goes on."
5. Find an accountability partner. “This is huge,” says Distefano. “Find a sweat buddy or a trainer that will hold you accountable for showing up and putting in the work. Adding that personal touch will almost guarantee you’re not skipping a sweat session. I’ve been known for an occasional phone call or FaceTime in the beginning of class for someone who skips.”
Working out with a partner can make you exercise more often, according to one University of Aberdeen study.
6. Take the time to warm-up. If you jump right into an early bird workout, your muscles aren’t exactly ready for prime movement, which means you likely may not be performing your best. Make early morning workouts better by getting things fluid before the real work even begins. “Starting off a morning workout with drills that turn on the nervous system, like jumping rope, med ball throws or slams, and sled pushes, can gear you up for success,” says Malik. “Then, you’ll be all systems go to get into the meat and potatoes of any workout.”