Note from the editor: This post was originally published in October 2012. I’ve updated it to include more tips.
~ Zoe XOXO

When people find out I wake up between 4-5am, they generally want to know my secret for how to wake up early to work out!

The main reasons is that I like to get it done first thing, before anything else can get in the way and before my brain can even start to think of reasons why not! Plus I deliberately chose a gym that is 30 minutes away because it gives me 60 minutes of driving to listen to podcasts. I work from home, so don’t have a commute and enjoy the drive to have some personal development time 4-5 times a week.

If I can’t make there, we do have a small home-gym in our apartment building, so I’m never totally stuck. Plus a big beautiful beach and ocean out front!

I just personally feel more energetic and ready to get stuck into the day after exercising first thing. There is something very rewarding about doing something just for you first thing; before all the work and ‘must do’ agendas of the day.

My early morning gym session is just for me.


Here are my top ten tips that helped me adjust to getting up early to exercise:

1. Obviously get to bed early. Believe me getting up at 4am is a lot easier when you’ve had at least 6 hours sleep! The hours of sleep you get before midnight are the most beneficial too (that’s what my mum always tells me anyway) but we are designed to sleep when it’s dark remember. Consider all the usual good sleep tips like no caffeine or heavy meals in the evening, turning off electronic devices an hour before bed, sleeping in total darkness etc… (magnesium supplements or Cort-RX are very good for a good night’s rest too).

2. Get up as soon as that alarm goes off. Throw the covers back, get out of bed, get to the bathroom and splash your face with water before you can even think about pressing snooze! The longer you lie about in that warm cozy bed, the more likely you will convince yourself why you shouldn’t be getting up.

3. Set a back up alarm, or two…or three. A few minutes later is good so you won’t doze off too heavily. It takes some time to get used to the whole ‘jumping’ out of bed thing early (you’ll go into auto pilot after a while) so having a bit of alarm insurance can’t hurt.

4. Be prepared. Have everything ready to go so you can just get dressed, grab a coffee if you need one and your pre/post workout shake and then get out the door. If you need time to stand in a hot shower for 10 minutes (water waster!) then make sure you allow for that.

5. Wake yourself up with a warm up. If your gym is nearby, walk, jog or cycle there as your warm up (and cool down after) then you will be ready to get straight into your workout when you arrive. If not, allow yourself extra time when you get to the gym to warm up properly.

6. Have a routine. Let your body clock do its thing and try to have the same sleep and wake up times each day. If you do four days out of seven you should find this is enough to get you into a good rhythm. Stick with it for a good few weeks and it will become a habit.

7. Book a PT sess or group fitness class. One word here – accountability. You are much more likely to commit to getting up early if someone else is too! I used to HATE group classes, but now I love my group training sessions – I enjoy the social chit chat before and after, and find it more motivating being in a fun atmosphere with happy peeps and pumping music.

8. Reward yourself. If you do a run on the beach, have a refreshing swim in the ocean after or take ten minutes to meditate on the sand. Have a sauna after your gym workout or book a weekly massage. A nice healthy breakfast with a friend. And don’t forget the pure reward of being fit strong and healthy!

9. Have an intention to get up early. This is a envisioning technique that bizarrely works. When you lie in bed at night, think/repeat to yourself “I will wake up at 4am” (or whatever ungodly hour it is) and set that intention. Practice this and you might find you don’t even need an alarm clock anymore!

10. Just do it. (Thank you Nike) no more excuses, no more reasons why you aren’t a ‘morning person’ or you’ll definitely start tomorrow blah blah. Honestly, it’s not that hard to get up an hour or two early. The Buddha said that every time you go to bed you should consider the possibility that you won’t wake up. A little depressing, but when you wake up in the morning you will be especially grateful for the day you have ahead of you. Carpe diem!

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