When it comes to exercising in the a.m., it’s way easier to be a wimp than a warrior — which is bad news, considering how much an early sweat session may benefit your body, not to mention your to-do list.
Not only are morning workouts easier to stick to (hey, impromptu happy hours don’t happen before the sun comes up), but science suggests that working out early, before you’ve had breakfast, may help your body burn more fat — 20 percent more, in fact.
Your brain benefits, too. A 2019 study on older adults found that squeezing in moderate exercise in the morning improves decision-making skills and memory during the rest of the day.
That said, actually getting yourself to the gym, or even out of the house, at the crack of dawn can feel like struggle city.
It’s no wonder, really, since your body’s still in snooze mode at that hour, particularly if it’s not acclimated to doing something right away, says personal trainer Stacy Berman, founder of Stacy’s Bootcamp in NYC.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on all your #RiseAndGrind aspirations — just opt for a calmer kind of morning workout to start with.
To get into the habit of a morning workout, start with gentle movements that yield big results. Go for moves that strengthen and stretch your entire body while getting your blood pumping but that are a bit less intense, Berman suggests.
Complete 3 rounds of the following circuit. Perform 10–12 reps of each move in the first set, 12–15 reps in the second set, and 15–20 reps in the third set.
By the end, you’ll feel stretched, energized, and ready to take on the day — though you should probably change out of your PJs first.
1. Hollow body hold
Lie faceup with arms by your sides and legs extended straight. Engage your abs. Lift shoulder blades and legs off the floor, keeping lower back pressed into mat throughout the exercise.
Pro tip: The closer your legs are to the floor, the more challenging this is.
2. Single-leg glute bridge
Lie faceup with knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Extend left leg straight out, then press into right heel to lift hips straight up off mat.
Keep knees in line and engage glutes as you lift. Lower down slowly, creating your own resistance, then repeat on the other side.
3. Reverse oblique crunch
Start sitting on mat, legs extended in front of you, hands on mat behind you. Lean back slightly onto fingertips for balance and lift legs 2 inches off floor.
Keeping core tight, shift weight onto right hip and twist at the waist to bring bent knees toward chest. Extend back out (don’t drop your legs to mat).
You should feel this in your side abs. Twist to the other side and repeat. Continue alternating.
4. Plank with knee tap
Start in high plank position, hands directly under shoulders, shoulders in line with hips. Engage core to keep torso still.
Without shifting weight, draw right knee to chest and lift left hand to tap right knee, then draw left knee to chest and lift right hand to tap left knee. Continue alternating as fast as possible without losing your form.
5. Double leg lift
Lie faceup on mat, legs extended up toward ceiling so your body forms a 90-degree angle. Bring arms down by your sides, keep core engaged, and press low back into the mat.
Slowly lower legs as close as possible to mat (the lower you go, the harder it is). Don’t let lower back pop up off mat. Slowly lift legs back to the starting position and repeat.
Stand with feet just wider than hip width. Keep hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles. Hinge at hips, then send hips back and bend knees to lower your body into a perfect squat.
Keep your chest lifted and lower at least until your legs are at 90 degrees. Lift arms in front of you for balance if needed. Rise and repeat.
7. Lateral lunge with knee drive
Start with feet together, arms at your sides. Take a big step to the left with left foot, send hips back, and bend left knee (keeping right leg straight) as you bring palms together in front of your chest.
Keep chest lifted and abs engaged. Press into left foot to reverse momentum and shift weight onto right leg as you draw left knee to chest. Return to lunge position and repeat. Then switch sides.
8. Inchworm push-up
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge at hips to bend over and touch the floor with your hands, then walk hands out to high plank position.
Keeping elbows close to sides, bend elbows and lower your chest to the floor. Push back up, then walk hands back toward feet. Repeat.
Mornings are rough — we get it. And a morning workout doesn’t sound nearly as wonderful as hitting the snooze button for the fourth time, cuddling with bae, or scrolling through the ’gram. Anything to stay in bed just a little longer, right?
But the bottom line is this: After the first few exercises in this morning workout routine, that burst of feel-good chemicals might just be on par with your piping hot cup of joe. Stick with it and you’ll be hopping out of bed for your fitness fix in no time.