Look, not all of us are morning people. But if you aren’t—or even if you are—one thing that can really help you feel awake is morning workouts. Yes, it might be hard to get yourself motivated bright and early, but the endorphins, sweat, and sense of accomplishment you’ll feel after getting in an early workout will leave you energized and ready to take on your day. If you’ve decided to give morning workouts a try, you might be wondering if there are specific activities that are best for those early hours. Well, the answer depends a bit on your personal preference and fitness goals.
In general, anything that gets your heart rate up is a good bet, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, CPT, owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. After all, it’s hard not to feel awake when you get a little breathless.
If you’re looking for a real challenge, consider adding a dose of plyometric work too. Plyometrics include any quick, explosive movements, like box jumps, skips, or giant skaters, and it’s basically guaranteed to crank up your heart rate. The intensity of plyo moves can fire up your entire body while also spiking your energy levels. Another solid option? High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. The hallmark of HIIT is repeated, extremely hard bouts of work interspersed with periods of recovery. Pushing yourself to the max is one surefire way to shake off a sleepy feeling.
Of course, you don’t have to do plyo or HIIT to get an effective morning workout. Another option is to keep things on the gentler side with, say, an energizing yoga stretch sequence, or a quick low-impact bodyweight cardio routine.
The only thing you may want to steer clear of is heavy strength work first thing in the a.m., says Fagan. That’s because your mobility is more limited right after you wake up compared to later in the day. Thus, the risk of injuring yourself is higher when doing heavy lifts first thing in the morning.
No matter what type of workout you choose for your morning routine, be sure to properly warm up beforehand so that you’re not jumping into exercise with cold muscles and stiff joints. You probably need more time to warm up for a morning workout than an afternoon or evening workout, NASM-certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, CPT, trainer at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, tells SELF. Jamison recommends taking about 10 minutes to warm up before a morning workout. “You want to start slow and steady,” she says. (If you need some inspo, check out some of our favorite warm-ups here and here.)
Ready to kick-start your day with some seriously awesome exercise routines? Here are 12 workouts that will energize your body and mind. Who knows, these at-home routines may even replace your morning cup of coffee. (Kidding.)