Sacrificing some extra sleep is never easy. Especially early in the morning, immediately after you’ve hit the snooze button for the first time. One lousy trick the body plays on you is to make you choose between that blissful post-snooze sleep and the incredible benefits of morning exercise. Science says that the body’s hormonal profile is at its peak—and especially primed to burn extra fat stores—just after you wake up.
There are other advantages of working out early, which include reduced appetite through the day, a tendency to feel tired earlier (at night) than usual which leads to better sleep, and feeling more alert during exercise due to the distraction-free environment. If you actually manage to incorporate morning workouts into your routine, and approach them with the right intensity, it can lead to an incredible metabolic boost.
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There is a flipside though. If you’re finding it terribly difficult to wake up, then a sluggish workout will have the opposite effect on your metabolism. The biggest advantage though, is getting exercise out of the way in the morning is a huge relief and an energy boost at the same time.
This doesn’t mean that working out at mid-day or in the evening is less effective. Those timings have their own benefits too, especially that of getting a performance boost when you work out after a couple of meals. I usually reserve my morning routine to 15-odd minutes, mostly made up of stretches. Sleeping or laying on a bed for hours can cause the muscles to tighten, and it is important to slowly mobilise the body after waking up.
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“Your body has been locked up and stiff all night. The connective tissue covering the muscles (fascia) is highly innervated and responds well to stretch and movement, making this a great way to jump-start movement for the day,” says pilates instructor and physiotherapist Jen Esquer in a Shape.com article titled You're 30 Days Away from Being A Morning Workout Person. It is that very reason we feel like stretching after waking up. It is also an excellent way to get into the habit of doing some form of physical exercise in the morning.
So, with that in mind, here are some morning workouts, ranging from mobility to HIIT, that you should try over the coming week.
10 minute morning yoga stretch by Yoga with Kassandra
This is an easy routine which includes the usual suspects: cat/cows, downward dogs, cobra pose, and some other hip openers to ease the muscles which tend to tighten while we sleep.
Jen Esquer’s 15-minute home HIIT + mobility workout
Another workout where no equipment is required, and slightly more energising than the yoga stretches is Esquer’s HIIT and mobility combo routine. It has some challenging moves, like the lateral bear crawl, but it mixes things up well with some mobility work to get you moving better from the start of the day. Esquer has an Instagram channel as well, where she posts quick routines so check those out too. She goes by the handle @DocJenFit.
7-minute daily morning mobility routine by Saturno Movement
Don’t have 15 minutes before that morning work call? No problem, spare less than half of that and do Saturno Movement’s daily morning mobility routine. The shortest workout on this list, you’ll really have to find a good excuse to not try this for a few days in a row to see if you feel any changes.
Fraser Wilson’s 20-minute morning bodyweight workout
This is not an easy one so try it if you’re already at an intermediate level in terms of fitness or if you’ve been wanting to push yourself. The workout mainly consists of exercises done for 30 seconds, with a minute’s rest coming in only at the end of each round. So you’ll be moving quite a bit. This is perfect to build your endurance while also getting a tough workout out of the way early.
Rowan Row’s 10-minute fat burning workout
The recommendation would be to start your morning with a few stretches and a brisk warmup before doing any of the fat burning or intense workouts. Once you’re past that, here’s Rowan Row’s 10-minute fat burner which operates on a 45 second on-15 seconds off pattern. Lots of high knees, plank variations, ab work, and some explosive movements to work on your stamina, fat burn, and cardio.
Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.