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How to Start Working Out in The Morning—Even If You’re Not a Morning Person

Tonal coach Joe Rodonis shares his tips on waking up early to get in a workout.

Woman waking up early for a morning workout routine.

It’s always a great idea to fit in your workout first thing before the demands of the day start piling up—until your alarm actually jolts you awake from a deep sleep. It certainly felt that way for certified personal trainer Joe Rodonis when he started training clients who had to exercise in the morning. He had to wake up at 4 a.m. to be ready to work out at 5 a.m. 

But with the right strategies, Rodonis—who admits he’s not a natural morning person—settled into his new routine and enjoys early morning sweat sessions. Now, he’s easily able to get out of bed by 6 a.m. to make it to the Tonal studio on time for his first Live workout of the day. Here’s his advice on establishing a morning workout routine (and why you’d want to in the first place), plus ideas for highly-effective morning workouts that’ll make you excited to jump out of bed.

Related Story: This Slight Change to Your Mornings Can Set You Up For Success

Benefits of a Morning Workout Routine

There’s nothing wrong with exercising in the afternoon or at night. “It’s all about the time of day that works for you,” Rodonis says. There are, however, some unique perks to working out in the morning. 

Several studies have shown that exercise has the power to boost your mood, so why not start your day off with an activity that’ll leave you feeling happier, less anxious, and more energized? Getting your heart pumping and blood flowing in the morning could set you up to feel better all day. 

Tonal coach Joe Rodonis exercising on Tonal

Tackling a tough workout will also make you feel more confident and competent as you go through the rest of the day. After checking exercise off your to-do list, other tasks, such as a big meeting, might seem less daunting. 

“It feels good to know that you started the day by accomplishing something difficult,” says Rodonis. “Now you can go into your workday and get that done with the same intensity and the same energy.” 

Morning workouts might boost your results, too: In one study, a group who exercised before noon lost significantly more weight over the course of 10 months than a group who exercised after 3 p.m. Another study showed that subjects who exercised at 7 a.m. experienced improved sleep quality and a greater drop in nighttime blood pressure than those who exercised at 1 p.m. or 7 p.m.

How to Establish a Highly-Effective Morning Workout Routine

It’s important to be patient with yourself when you’re first attempting to wake up earlier and work out. According to Rodonis, it may take up to a month before you’re no longer tempted to hit the snooze button. 

For Rodonis, the key to establishing a new routine was setting a schedule. He found a regular wake-up time and went to bed at the same time each night. He learned the value of a strict sleep schedule from training clients with demanding jobs who only had time to work out early in the morning. 

“They were very regimented,” he says. “Even on the weekends, they would have consistent wake-up times.” Even if you’re not trying to wake up at the crack of dawn, studies suggest that not sticking to a schedule can decrease sleep quality and lead to daytime fatigue. 

A pre-bedtime ritual is another way to reinforce your new habit. “Between 9-10 p.m. I try to get less stimulus, whether that’s reading a book, journaling, or even going for a walk with the dog,” says Rodonis. “It’s more of a downtime when I don’t have to perform or be ‘on.’” He also recommends clearing any morning barriers with “set it and forget it” methods such as laying out your workout clothes the night before so there’s one less step to worry about when you’re bleary-eyed.

Morning Workouts You Can Do at Home on Tonal 

It’s easier to get your sweat on in the morning when you have an engaging workout waiting for you. With coach-led workouts and programs on Tonal, all you need to do is press start to launch a fun and challenging session. To see how Tonal members make the most of their mornings, we pulled the data on the most popular workouts and programs completed before 9 a.m. among members with different experience levels and different goals. Try one of these to jumpstart your day.

Best Quick Morning Workout Routine to Do Before Work

20-in-20: Ignite – Coach Tony Horton

20-in-20 Ignite: Coach Tony Horton

One of the biggest obstacles to exercising in the morning is finding the time to squeeze in a workout before rushing out the door for work. With 20 workouts that are 20 minutes each, this program with Tony Horton makes it easy to fit a quick session into your busy morning routine. Each day you’ll focus on a different muscle group so that by the end of the week you’ll have challenged your entire body. 

Best Morning Workout Routine to Build Muscle

Power Build – Coach Joe Rodonis

Power Build - Coach Joe Rodonis, good for a morning workout routine

Tonal members looking to gain muscle are leaping out of bed in the morning to develop their strength and power with Rodonis in this program. It combines low-speed, heavy-lift days to stimulate hypertrophy and high-speed, lighter-lift days to build explosive power. The upper/lower split ensures all your major muscles get dedicated attention. 

Best Morning Workout Routine to Get Lean

HIIT The Beach 2 – Coach Gabby Sansosti

HIIT the Beach 2: Coach Gabby Sansosti

If your focus is burning fat and shifting your body composition, you’ll love this member-favorite program. It’s designed to build lean muscle through full-body lifting and trigger a metabolic response by elevating your heart rate. Sansosti’s contagious energy will give you a mood boost that’ll last all day.

Best Morning Workout Routine to Improve Fitness

Summer Body Blast – Coach Frances Flores

Summer Body Blast - Coach Frances Flores

Improve your muscular endurance in these high-intensity workouts that include compound movements, high-volume sets, and minimal rest to keep your heart rate up. Athletic conditioning moves paired with fundamental pushing and pulling exercises will improve how you move through everyday life. 

Best Morning Workout Routine for Beginners

Beginner Heat – Coach Amy Schemper 

Even new exercisers are excited to start their mornings off with a workout thanks to this energetic yet approachable program. There are only a handful of different exercises in each of these six workouts (all under 30-minutes long) so beginners can easily master the moves through repetition. Schemper keeps the pace moving so you’ll also break a sweat.

Best Morning Workout Routine for Intermediate Exercises

Total Body Knockout – Coach Tony Horton

Total Body Knockout - Coach Tony Horton, good for a morning workout routine

For hitting all the major muscle groups before breakfast, Tonal members can’t get enough of this one-off Tony Horton barbell workout. You’ll work on plenty of classic lifts such as the deadlift, overhead press, bench press, and front squat.

Best Morning Workout Routine for Advanced Exercisers

Go Big or Go Home 2 – Coach Jackson Bloore

Go Big or Go Home 2 - Coach Jackson Bloore, good for a morning workout routine

Tonal users going for major gains are waking up early to attack these muscle-building workouts inspired by old-school body-building techniques. The program features high-volume sets and heavy lifts that’ll stimulate hypertrophy to grow bigger and stronger muscles.

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