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We know not everyone is a morning person. (And even fewer of us are eager to wake up and hit the gym.) But getting up and moving can actually be an amazing way to start your day—for most of us, it’s just a matter of how.
At this point, you’ve probably heard the usual tips and tricks, but what hacks do people who consistently work out in the early a.m. use? We asked those who know best—a mix of people who train for a living, current and former Greatist staffers, and you, our readers—to find out what gets them up and at ’em at the crack of dawn.
1. Cool down to warm up.
“I ride a Citi Bike to the gym to teach—even in the winter. Those single-digit temperatures and that bitter breeze smack me so hard in the face, I don’t even need a cup of coffee!”Ryan Wilke, co-founder of Throwback Fitness
2. Set two alarms.
“The first one lets me know I have 15 more minutes to sleep, which makes me happy. Then I meditate for 10 minutes, drink an almond milk cappuccino, play music (pretty loud—sorry, neighbors!), and throw on a super-bright Nike outfit. Caffeine. Clear Head. Neon. I’m out the door and ready to take on the day.”Holly Rilinger, Nike Master Trainer, Flywheel Master Instructor, and co-creator of BeachFIT
3. Pack accordingly and get in bed early.
“Every evening I check to see what the morning workout will be and prepare my bag accordingly (not every day is a jump rope day). On weekdays I’m in bed no later than 10:30 p.m., so my 6:30 a.m. alarm doesn’t feel quite so brutal. I’m ready and out the door within 10 minutes.”Sandee Shin, CrossFit Virtuosity athlete
4. Flip a switch.
“Blinding light as soon as the alarm goes off always makes me realize I don’t want to go back to sleep. Then I turn on some tunes—on days I need extra help I’ll go for Drake or Nikki—and grab my first cup of coffee rather than the covers.”Jessi Kneeland, personal trainer and creator of Remodel Fitness
5. Have breakfast ready and waiting.
“When I’m looking at another 5 a.m. wake-up call, I’ll pre-order my favorite smoothie from my go-to smoothie shop to be delivered early the next morning. Once I hit that send button, I know I have get up early—not just so I can eat it, but to make sure nobody else eats it (which, yes, has almost happened). I even label my alarm to say: ‘Get your damn Liquiteria.'”Sarah Pope, assistant coach at Brick New York
6. Keep the alarm away from your bed.
“In fact, I used to have an alarm clock that would purposely vibrate off my nightstand, then shake and roll all over the floor so I had to chase it to shut it off! For me, the hardest part is that initial physical act of getting my body out of bed. It’s all downhill from there!”Brian Gallagher, co-founder of Throwback Fitness
7. Make it a habit.
“Life is about habits, both big and small. So to get to the bigger goal of working out in the morning, I stick to small habits along the way, like placing my alarm clock in my kitchen. As I brush my teeth, I ask myself: What will I gain from staying awake instead of going back to bed? The answer is always ‘a lot,’ because a couple extra hours of uninterrupted time is enormous, whether it’s spent at a desk or in the gym.”Adam Griffin, founder of Bodeefit
8. Prep your clothes—and a playlist.
“The more I like my outfit, the more excited I am to put it on! Also, I always have an excellent playlist. For me, music dictates the way and the intensity in which I move.”Bree Branker, Flywheel NYC instructor
9. Wear red and grab a mint.
“Most of my workout clothes are red. The color’s known to increase excitement, energy levels, and circulation, and it really works to get me going.Perception of the color red enhances the force and velocity of motor output. Elliot AJ, Aarts H. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 2011, Aug.;11(2):1931-1516. I also pop in a peppermint Altoid, which I’ve done ever since my collegiate track and field days. Peppermint can create alertness, which is something I need running through Central Park in the early a.m.Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L. The International journal of neuroscience, 2008, Mar.;118(1):0020-7454. The only thing that I haven’t mastered is remembering my keys, which sometimes makes my workouts a bit longer than originally planned.”Jay Cardiello, celebrity trainer
10. Coffee = life.
“I drink as much coffee as I can (if they made coffee IV injections, I’d buy ’em) to get my zombie-like body out the door before it knows what’s happening to it.”Alyx Brown, chiropractic physician at Manhattan’s Urban Wellness Clinic
11. Splash yourself.
“I could lie in bed for hours, so the biggest struggle for me is just putting my feet on the ground. Then I immediately walk to the bathroom and wash my face with cold water—afterward, I feel awake and ready to go.”Locke Hughes, former senior editor
12. Eliminate excuses.
“When I pack my bag the night before, I include an extra plastic bag for sweaty clothes and my second stash of toiletries, so I’m never without some deodorant or quick-cleansing wipes (which I’ll use after a not-so-sweaty workout like yoga).”Maria Hart, former senior editor
13. Schedule brunch.
“I’m completely motivated by rewards, preferably food. So now I plan brunch with my friends on the weekends in the late morning. Nothing makes me run harder or faster (and even sometimes longer) than knowing a mimosa and some French toast are waiting for me.”Jeff Cattel, former editor
14. Think about how you’ll feel afterward.
“For me, it’s knowing how great I’ll feel once it’s over. Once I’m done, I know I have the entire day and night to do whatever I want!”Amanda Delaney, head of people operations
“I like to have an insanely delicious (and healthy) pre-gym snack so I’m motivated to wake up and go. I love making energy bites loaded with almond butter and oats, and having a strong cup of coffee on my commute to the gym. By the time I’m there, I have tons of energy and am ready to work.”Tara Goodrum, former director of brand strategy
16. Turn to your furry friends.
“I’ve got four dogs that I run with in the morning before we eat. There’s nothing like four barking dogs to get you up and running.”Mary Muller, via Facebook
17. Look into the future.
“I visualize the workout the night before as I’m falling asleep. Visualizing myself enjoying it and seeing myself smiling works every time.”Antonio Deliseo, via Facebook
18. Respect your routine.
“Give your workout the same respect as your child’s doctor appointment or your work schedule. Scheduling my workouts keeps me going—I really try not to let anything get in the way.”Summer MacKenzie Devine, via Facebook
19. Warm up the room.
“I have a gym buddy, lay out clothes the night before, and schedule the heat to turn on early so getting out of bed isn’t so hard!”Mandy Thudium, via Twitter
20. Have a group you can’t let down.
“Find a good group. While I don’t always want to go to the workout, I always want to see my friends.”Rachel Lockwood McDonald, via Facebook
21. Chores count.
“I live in Boston—my morning workout is shoveling snow and getting firewood inside. No way around that!”Kerstin Dorbert, via Facebook
22. Sleep in workout clothes.
“I sleep in my workout clothes and pack my bag the night before. Also, I get really excited about breakfast.”Christine DiGangi, via Twitter
23. Use a wake-up light.
“I have a wake-up light, so when the alarm goes off, it’s bright in my room and I’m not tempted to snooze. I also have everything packed and ready to go the night before, so all I have to do is roll out of bed and go!”Lauren Furmanski, via Facebook
24. Do it no matter what.
“For me, it’s consistency. Even if I’m not feeling the workout that day, if I just get up and go through the motions, it helps.”Aaron Perkins, via Facebook
Originally published August 2015. Updated May 2017.