Setting your alarm at an ungodly hour so you can exercise before work isn't easy.
The first few times you hear that alarm, there'll probably nothing you want to do more than hit the snooze button. But, if you can find the willpower to stick to this routine, there's a lot of benefits you can access.
In fact, it can be argued that the start of the day is the most effective time to exercise, whether you're trying to lose weight, build muscle or just feel better about yourself.
Here are five key benefits of working out early in the morning.
1. Burn more calories and build more muscle
Men's testosterone levels are typically highest immediately after waking up. These hormones help to build muscle mass, so you may be able to do this more effectively by exercising in the morning.
There are also suggestions that morning workouts will boost your metabolism, due to excess post-exercise consumption (EPOC). You'll get a metabolism spike whatever time of day you exercise, although it's been suggested that EPOC will burn more calories while you're up and active, compared to during sleep.
Although some research suggests exercising on an empty stomach is effective, you may find it harder to perform to your peak this way. Bear in mind that the intensity of your workout will play a far bigger role in fat loss than when you eat breakfast, so experiment with what works best for you.
It's definitely recommended to eat a hearty protein-based meal after working out in order to replenish your energy.
2. An easier routine to stick to
The best way to stick to any habit is to make it part of your routine, completing it at the same time every day. There's no easier time to do that than the early morning.
It's unlikely something more important will get in the way of a pre-sunrise cardio session. You won't have to deal with social events tempting you away from the gym, nor stressful work days convincing you to skip your workout.
The simple solution to 'not having time' for a morning workout is to set your alarm earlier. It's also recommended to prepare your equipment the previous evening, so you can get out of the house as soon as possible.
It's perfectly fine to admit you're not looking forward to your workout. If you're doing it properly, you will be pushing your body's pain threshold to its extreme every day. That's hardly an exciting prospect, even if it is strangely enjoyable once you've started and deeply satisfying after you're done.
With that in mind, the obvious advantage of a morning workout is that you've got it out of the way early. You don't have to stress about it for the entire day, and you can fill your evenings with exciting things you're actually looking forward to.
No matter how the rest of your day goes, you can be proud of nailing that workout. This pride may even inspire you to make healthier eating decisions throughout the day.
It's not just pride that'll have you beaming throughout the day.
Exercise releases endorphins which primarily reduce your perception of pain, but also raise your mood for hours afterward. These endorphins target the same pleasure receptors in the brain that are activated during sex, eating and drinking. They've have been proven to reduce stress, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.
Studies suggest you'll also feel more energized and more alert. Perhaps you'll feel even a bit more superior than the colleagues who couldn't bear to get out of bed so early.
5. Better sleep
Studies have shown that people who work out in the morning tend to sleep better. Indeed, many people who work out at night report finding it difficult to hit the sack straight after, due to an increased heart rate and adrenaline pumping through the body.
A better quality of sleep will help your body recover from the day's physical exploits, promoting faster muscle growth. It will also boost your willpower, so it's easier to make sensible dietary decisions.
Of course, you may need to wake up earlier to squeeze your workout into your day, so you need to make an effort to get to sleep earlier to balance this.
As this article demonstrates, it'll be well worth the effort.