Should I Exercise First Thing in the Morning?

The Brief is a weekly newsletter by Strength Matters on a Friday, that shares a potential life-changing topic or question. The goal: to help you become a more rounded everyday athlete.

October 1st, 2021: Does the Early Bird Catch the Worm?

Over the past 8 weeks, I lost my daily routine. I was ill, couldn’t sleep properly and things just went tits up.

My normal 930pm bedtime was replaced by a midnight curfew if I was lucky, and my 6 am wake-up call was replaced by whenever I felt like getting up depending on how many times I got up during the night to pee.

Being ill sucks and it throws you completely out of sync.

The most important thing though is how quickly you get back on track.

One of the best things I’ve done in a long time was to go on Holiday last week to Devon and Cornwall. It was the perfect way to transition from illness back into the real world. It allowed me to press reset, get some sleep, some fresh coastal air and, inadvertently get me back into a routine. I was asleep by 10 pm most nights and was naturally waking up at 6 am.

It highlighted to me once again the importance of routine and good sleep habits – the things that deserted me completely whilst I was sick that had a knock-on effect on my training and work habits. I was no longer able to train, which meant I put on weight, I was more tired and making poorer food choices and my work productivity tanked! I was only getting done what had to get done and all the fun projects we had planned got stalled…

It was incredibly frustrating and I felt like crap.

Fast forward to this week and I’m feeling like me again. My routine is back. I’m in bed by 930pm and up at 6 am to be in the gym by 630am and in the coffee shop by 745am to start work.

I read somewhere once that Ernest Hemingway woke each morning and began writing straight away. He considered it to be the most important thing he did each day. Hemingway’s routine — along with hundreds of other prolific authors and artists, mentioned in Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (audiobook) — hints at one of the most important productivity strategies ever…

Do the most important thing first each day.

Sounds simple. No one does it.

Just like Hemingway, who produced a remarkable volume of high-caliber writing over his career, you can make surprising progress each day if you simply do the most important thing first.

That to me is fitness… the gym, a run, snowboarding, or trail running. Whatever it is, it sets me up for the rest of day feeling refreshed, energized, and feeling like I can take on the world.

Prioritizing my health is the most important thing to me.

We often assume that losing weight and getting fitter means doing more each day.

Wrong.

Losing weight and getting fitter is about getting important things done consistently. Getting results is about maintaining a steady, average speed on a few things, not maximum speed on everything. That’s why training first thing in the morning is so effective.

If you do the most important thing first each day, then you’ll always get something important done.

More importantly, if you’re feeling great, you’ll make better food choices throughout the day.

It has a surprising knock-on effect.

I can already hear you night owls groaning at the thought of training first thing in the morning! However, I think starting your day by working out does offer some additional benefits over other times.

Firstly, willpower tends to be higher earlier in the day and you’ll more likely do the darn workout!

I don’t know about you, but how many times have you put off doing a workout throughout the day? For whatever reason and prioritizing other things instead and never get around to doing your actual workout??

I know I have!

Secondly, in my experience, the deeper I get into the day, the more likely it is that unexpected things will creep into my schedule and the less likely it is that I’ll have time to do a workout. Training first thing each day helps avoid that.

Now I’m not one of those get up at 4:30 am worshippers who say you must get up at a specific time each day. There are night owls amongst us, just as much as there are early birds. My argument is, if losing weight, getting fitter, and or even healthier is the most important thing to you right now, whatever time you get up in the morning, maybe consider doing the most important thing first!

It might be working out, it might be meal prepping or even eating breakfast. Whatever it is, decided what’s important to you and do it first.

It might just help you get your results faster…

Until next time,

James

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