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I really want to be able to work out in the mornings before work, but I feel as though my work outs are never as good in the morning as they are later in the day. I feel sluggish and just don't have the same energy level or motivation.
What do you do to ensure a successful morning work out?
I used to work out in the mornings ... before I started feeling sluggish. I always made sure to have a light snack when I woke up like a piece of toast with peanut butter and some water because I know I have more energy with something in my stomach. I'd try having something to eat. Yogurt might be a good option -- sugar for energy, but since it's a glorified liquid it won't take long to digest -- or a banana/apple. Maybe some coffee would help to wake you up (if it doesn't upset your stomach)?
How much sleep are you getting? Ultimately, I stopped working out in the morning because I'm one of those people who needs eight hours of sleep and I'd get really groggy cutting that short to work out early. And then, often, I'd have to cut my workout short to get to work on time. So the morning workouts kinda dried up ...
Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.
In addition to what Yodiwan stated, it's also important to have a late night snack so that there will be some glycogen in your muscles when you wake up. It will give you the energy you need at the start of your workout until your digestion of a morning bagel or banana kicks in. I also find that spending a little more time than usual stretching helps early morning workouts.
While I tend to achieve a slightly lower level of performance during early morning workouts, I love the feeling of accomplishment at the start of the day. It's great not having to stress about when I'm going to find time in the day to fit in a workout and I really enjoy showing up for work invigorated and ready to go while the rest of my fellow teachers are struggling to turn on their coffee pots.
I tend to shy away from early morning workouts mostly due to feeling tight in the lower back and legs. When I do run in the early mornings I too stretch a little longer and start off a lot slower during the first mile. Though as Jay mentioned, it feels great AFTER the run with the afterglow and a flushed face in the brisk morning air.
Some feel my routine's a bit weird, but, hey, it works for me. Something that does tend to get me is sleep. If working out in the morning, I usually try to get to sleep around 9 or 10...If I am hitting the gym (6am), I am up at 4:30 to have a light breakfast and give it time to digest. I also tend to do a cup of coffee in the morning and take a quick shower and stretch a little before leaving the house. I always pack my lunch and gym bag the night before and it helps to have the coffee ready to brew so I can just push a button. It helps to be up that early because, by the time I get to the gym, I am totally awake and ready to go! I just make sure the night before that I have very little to do to get up and get going, making it as easy as possible to get out the door! Just getting out of bed is a bigger challenge to me than the workout, when the snooze button is sooooo close.
There's plenty of science to document that injury rates are lower, and body temperature and energy level are higher in the afternoon.
That said, habituation plays a role, too. When I started running, I had to do my week day runs in the mornings during the winter. That was living death (smiles)....even on my treadmill. Now, they're much easier and more natural. When at peak mileage for a marathon, my run time can go before 5 AM.
As others have noted, mind is 90% of what we do.
All the suggestions about eating something before bed and when you wake up are good. I've found that rubbing on a little peppermint scented lotion before heading out the door helps my energy levels and motivation more than anything else though. It really perks me up and helps me get out of that early morning funk!