Ask Stew: Not Up for Early Morning Workouts? Give It 10 Minutes.

Sleep is one part of the Performance Triad and is necessary to perform optimally. (Courtesy of U.S. Army)

Avid exercisers always will have a preference whether it's better to exercise in the morning or evening, but sometimes circumstances require a shift in schedule and workout times.

Here is an email from a dad who is in that stage of life where busy kid activities and a full day of work are interfering with his regular training habits.

Stew, I have had a schedule shift with my work hours and my kid's new activities now require me to fit my workout in the morning before work, as the evenings are busy with family events these days. I have always been an early evening exerciser and now need some advice as to how you early birds do it. Thanks -- Russ

Russ, I get it. Even for an early bird exerciser like myself, there is something that makes you want to stay comfortable in your bed and sleep another 30-45 minutes. After nearly 40 years of morning workouts, it still can be a challenge. I have learned that I always will feel better, be more productive at work and enjoy getting it done with no interruptions if I just get up and start moving.

Not everyone is motivated to get up early to do things that are hard (or even easy, for that matter). Probably the most comfortable you ever will be is just before the moment when the alarm goes off before sunrise.

If you want a magic solution to motivate yourself to do something, here it is.

Just give it 10 minutes. Start by getting out of bed, getting dressed quickly and doing something for 10 minutes.

Her are some of my go-to options:

Walking: Start walking and slowly turn it into a jog. Give it 10 minutes.

Calisthenics and core: Mix in a variety of calisthenics, such as push-ups, bench dips, squats, lunges and plank poses in a pyramid or circuit fashion, for 10 minutes.

Dumbbells: See how many sets of dumbbell exercises you can do in 10 minutes.

Just do something for 10 minutes, even if it is only stretching or walking.

Personally, I work out 10-12 hours a week, five or six days a week, and I cannot tell you how many times I have said to myself, "I'll give this workout 10 minutes." I never have stopped working out after 10 minutes in more than 20+ years of consistent morning workouts.

Ten minutes is just enough motion to warm you up and enough time to wake you up from the morning stupor. On the days when I've made various excuses and stayed in bed, the feeling of skipping the workout was worse than getting up and starting ever could be.

It works. Just give it 10 minutes.

Some other tips for early morning workouts:

Try to go to bed 30-45 minutes earlier if you're waking up 30-45 minutes earlier.

Set an alarm for going to bed and start preparing to sleep.

Try not to think about it when getting up. Just start moving or get out of the house as soon as possible before you talk yourself out of starting.

Pack your clothes, make your snack and prepare your morning drink before you go to bed.

Those days when we feel motivated are great, and some days, we are all in. But no one is motivated every day. Accept that fact and be disciplined by building good habits on days when you are motivated. On those other days, give it 10 minutes, and you will more than likely finish what you started.

Also remember why you like to train and set some new morning-oriented goals.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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