You have no idea how often I get this message from people. “What do you mean you set your alarm for 4:45am to go to the gym?”
“Well, I have class from 8-4, depending, and only an hour for lunch, and after class I have meetings or I need to study and by the time I sit down it’s late at night and if I exercise I’ll be wide awake all day.”
I don’t write this to parrot the “DON’T HAVE TIME? MAKE TIME!” sentament because I think it’s lacking reality. I make this post to give some tips that I use to make sure that my ass is up and out the door at a decent time to get what I need done. So here are my tips.
1. Make a really annoying alarm, and put it really far away
My alarm is the car honking and it’s super annoying. What’s worse than that is my dogs know that alarm = Mom’s awake = FOOD. So before I’ve even processed that my alarm is going off I have a 20 pound beagle and a 35 pound dingo on my face pouncing at me and whining. There’s no way to sleep through that.
For those of you who don’t have pets, put your alarm far away. Close enough to hear, far enough to where you have to get up and turn it off. You’re already up, might as well go.
2. Minimize downtime
I sleep in my gym clothes, pack my gym bag, fill up my water bottle, mix my BCAAs and pre work out, all the day before. When I wake up literally the only thing I need to do is pee, feed my dogs, grab my bag and leave. After awhile this process becomes second nature and I don’t realize that I am a) awake or b) about to go to the gym until I’m IN the car and on my way to the gym. It’s autopilot, it takes something serious for me to disrupt that.
3. Caffeine and other drugs
On week days when I’m up at 4:45am it’s tough. I’m a classic “morning person” but I do need time to wake up, it’s not instant. I can usually help this out with caffeine. Some people take caffeine pills, sip a diet coke…I take a pre-workout. I used to take Jack3d before they changed the formula, and I’m not a fan of the new one. C4 makes me tingle and I, idiotically, ordered a giant tub of No X-Plode before realizing I bought a nasty flavor and I need like 2 scoops of it.
But caffeine isn’t the only way to wake up. Sun salutations, running to the gym, stretching, etc. are all great ways to wake your body up and make it ready to roll.
4. Time management
If you have class during the week, maybe spend weekends working out. The same is for work, on days you’re “free” you can schedule your workouts then. I tend to prioritize my workouts on weekends, then split the other 2 days I exercise based on my test schedule. I never workout the morning of a test (So I can sleep in or get last minute studying in). Don’t wake up at 3am every week day when you can sleep in until 9am on Saturday and go to the gym any time that day. Make the gym schedule one you can stick to.
Make sure you give yourself the RIGHT amount of time for a morning workout. For me, an hour is perfect. It takes me 10 minutes to get to my gym if I hit every red light, an hour to work out and stretch, 10 minute drive back home, 30 minutes to get ready for class, then I need to leave by 7:30 am if I want to make it in time (7:20am if the freshmen have 8am classes). I’ve done this enough to make sure I give myself enough time to work out, but not so much that I’m sitting around WAITING to leave. I could have been sleeping. Which brings me to my last and most important point…
5. Get some sleep
This is the most important one! I’ve seen people wake up early, go to the gym, feel great, crash around noon, take a nap after class, then can’t fall asleep until 11pm, repeat. If you’re not getting enough sleep the night before you’re going to set yourself up for disaster. The next day you’ll spend all day saying things like, “This am gym thing sucks, I’m exhausted now – NOT WORTH IT.”
I am in bed by 9:30pm pretty much every night, with few exceptions. I know, this makes me seem lame, but while my classmates are heading off to the gym after class and lamenting over having time to balance everything, I’ve already gone to the gym and can spend the afternoon studying.
Early mornings are NOT for everyone.
Make sure you’re not sacrificing sleep, study time, etc. just so you can wake up early for a workout. Some people cannot do early morning workouts – that’s fine! You’ll just have to find something else that works for you, like late nights, lunch time runs, etc. Accept this fact and plan your life around that, not the other way around.