Waking up at 6AM and working out is no girl's idea of fun but don't be so quick to judge. Squeezing in a sweat session in the morning can actually be pretty beneficial to us (in more ways than you think). Here's why early birds get the better workout...
Before we get started lets cover some basic ground...
Should I have a bowl of cereal or run on an empty stomach?
Working out in the morning can be tricky. You're dehydrated, hungry and probably a little bit groggy from the night before but the question is, should you eat before or pass up on food until you've finished working out?
ALWAYS make sure you eat. Food is your source of energy so without it, you won't be able to reap the benefits as much as you would have if you had eaten.
Sports dietitian, Rick Miller says the best foods to eat before your workout are those that "contain little fibre and a are source of carbohydrate and protein". Here are the best AM foods to much down before your workout...
- Cornflakes with low-fat milk
- Yoghurt and a ripe banana
- Biscuits such as Belvita Breakfast, low-fat milk and a portion of fruit
- Cup of Joe (Don't worry! Coffee only acts as a diuretic if drunken consistently throughout the day.)
Ideally, you should leave 2-3 hours after a full meal before engaging in any exercise (to give your body time to digest). But we all know that when it comes to working out in the morning this isn't always possible. That would mean waking up around 4am just to eat ! Not happening.
"The closer you eat to training, the more 'liquid' your meal should be to encourage faster digestion. Choose something like low fat milk or a yoghurt-based smoothie instead" says Rick. This is ideal.
How do I hydrate my body before a morning workout?
After several hours of sleep there's no doubt your body is going to be thirsty by the time you wake up. This is why hydrating yourself before your workout is a MUST.
If you're up two hours before, drinking a pint would be helpful, but not all of us are at the edge of our beds waiting for our alarms to go off in the morning. In this case reach for liquids!
"Drinking a glass (200ml) of low fat milk is an effective pre-workout drink as it contains protein, carbohydrate and fluid (which is the same concentration as your blood so it absorbs quickly)," says Rick. "Choosing low fat (skimmed, 1% or semi-skimmed) is best to help speed up digestion as whole milk will digest slowly."
What kind of exercise should I do and how much?
After a total body warm up of 5-8 minutes, do a mix of high intensity training (HIIT) cardio with compound body weight movements such as squats, push ups and lunges in multiple sets of 30-45 secs. This will produce results that you can see and feel.
Trainer at Think Urban Fitness, Paul Muir says, "Finish with a deep stretching cycle paying special attention to any problem/tight areas such as lower back, hamstrings, neck and shoulders. A 30-45 minute session is more than adequate, 3-5 times a week."
Now we've learned how to make our AM exercise effective lets find out what amazing benefits it has to offer...
1. There's no reason to ditch the caffeine
Downing a cup of coffee in the morning helps you get focused, motivated and accelerates fat loss (as coffee encourages fat cells to be used for energy). Studies have also found that people who drink caffeine just before exercise are more willing to invest effort and are less resistant to quitting.
And it's not as dehydrating as you thought. Rick says, "If you don't consume caffeine regularly in cups of English Breakfast tea and coffee then a large dose of caffeine in one go might make you urinate more but it won't cause dehydration."
2. You're more productive throughout the day
"A morning session will leave you feeling energised and also mean that you’re more productive throughout the day," says, Speedflex trainer, Emily Hargreaves.
Getting your blood pumping first thing in the AM will help set you up for the day. Go for a run in your local common, make that cycling class you've been meaning to join or practice some meditating yoga!
3. It boosts endorphins
When we exercise our body releases endorphins AKA 'the feel good hormone'. These hormone-like chemicals are released when our body's under stress so by the time you've finished your workout you feel amazing!
It's also a great way to clear the mind! Hotpod Yoga founder Max Henderson says, "AM exercise helps wake up your body and focus your mind for the day. You stretch out your muscles and get the body working properly internally, so that it really helps improve how you feel throughout your day."
Bit of morning sunshine and exercise? There's no better time in the day to get your endorphins! Make the most of it and begin your day with the right attitude.
4. It helps you make better choices
Not only are you better organised because you'd have to prepare for the next morning's sesh but after your AM workout you'll feel great, making you more inclined to make healthy food choices.
Think about it. You'll be so stoked you've accomplished something already that you won't want to ruin it!
5. Increases the fat burning cycle
According to a study in Belgium skipping your morning breakfast and going straight for the sweat will help avoid your body using carbs for energy and as a result, burn fat instead.
Furthermore, your morning workout will help rev up your metabolism for the day burning more calories in the long run! But although this comes as great news it doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want, it's still crucial to keep to a healthy, balanced diet if you want to get the most out of your workout.
6. Gets rid of EXCUSES
No more after work 'buts'! Choosing to workout in the morning gets rid of the potential for workouts to get sabotaged (in the evenings) leaving us more likely to stick to it.
Emily says, "For some, working out in the morning is a great way to ensure exercise is part of your day. If you get up and go, you’re less likely to make excuses or talk yourself out of a workout."
You're way less likely to skip it. Trust.
7. You'll look radiant
It's not just pregnancy that gives us that gorgeous rosy complexion. When we workout it increases blood flow leaving us with that pretty workout glow we all love. And what better time of day to flaunt it than in the day?
8. It helps you sleep better
According to a study at Appalachian State University fitting in a sesh of AM exercise can actually help you sleep better at night.
The study found that those who exercised moderately for 30 minutes, 3 times per week at 7AM slept longer and had deeper sleep cycles than those who participated in an evening workout. Who doesn't want a good night's sleep? We're all for it.
9. Nothing will get in your way
Working out in the morning gives you one less problem to deal with and more social events to attend! It also takes away the dread you have after a long day at work knowing that you STILL have to make your cycling class. Not anymore girls.
10. You'll feel amazing!
Once you realise that you're not making huge sacrifices (on something many of us often dread) you'll get to reap the benefits and will probably be the happiest you've ever been, for sure!
What time of day do you like to break a sweat? Tweet us @sofeminineUK!
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