7 Tips to Help You Start a Morning Exercise Routine - Organize Yourself Skinny

7 Tips to Help You Start a Morning Exercise Routine

7 tips to start a morning exercise routine

Earlier this year, OYS writer Melissa put together a post addressing the top 3-exercise hurdles OYS readers’ experience. We identified these hurdles simply by asking readers, who follow our Facebook Page, “What keeps you from exercising”? There were plenty of responses but it was no surprise that “lack of time” was the number one hurdle. We all live very busy lives and sometimes it seems impossible to find even an extra 30 minutes to schedule in a work out. I understand.

The solution that works best for me is exercising in the morning. I know, with work schedules and other commitments, this might be difficult for some. However, if the only thing holding you back is a warm bed and sweet dreams then creating a morning exercise routine is within reach – you just need to form the habit.

I recommend exercising in the morning for two reasons. First, it gets exercise out of the way before a million excuses start to form and, quite frankly, before I shower. Once I shower and start my day I will not be working up a sweat. Regardless, I can’t even tell you the number of times I would plan to exercise after work. Then 5:00pm would hit and I would be too tired to even think about getting in a workout. Not to mention, I needed to get home and feed my family. By the time all the nightly activities were done it was time to pass out. Therefore, if I don’t exercise in the morning it won’t happen at all. The only excuse that keeps me from getting on my treadmill is waking up late. In my opinion, this is a much easier fix than trying to find an hour or two in the middle of the day or at night.


The second reason I like to exercise in the morning is it starts my day on a positive note. I use that time to think about life, solve problems, and just be in solitude. That one-hour of exercise helps me stay focused and energized throughout the entire day. Feeling productive and accomplished is a priority for me. I need that. When I start my day with exercise I feel productive, accomplished, and ready to take on the world – all by 7:00am!

If you think exercising in the morning could benefit you then here are 7 tips that can help you start a morning exercise routine.

#1 Pick a realistic time

It is often tempting to set my alarm clock for 4:30am so I can have my workout and shower done by 6:00am. However, that is not realistic or sustainable for me. Trust me I have tried many times. A time I can stick with is 5:30am. This allows me to get the proper amount of sleep and still enough time for a solid workout. If you pick a time that you can never stick with then you will find it very difficult to create a routine and habit around that.

Once you pick a early morning time to exercise then protect that time. It is easy to get off track doing other things. However, if you decide 6:30am – 7:30am is exercise time then make sure nothing else takes priority.

#2 Get a good night sleep

This goes along with the first tip. If you go to bed at midnight not only will it be difficult to wake up at 5:30am it will be even harder to find the energy for a quality workout. We need at least 7-9 hours of sleep to function at our best. I know we all think we are superhuman and can survive on much less. However, we are looking to thrive, not just survive,  so we need our sleep. My goal bedtime is 10:30pm. Any later and I will struggle waking up in the morning.

#3 Put out clothes, sneakers, and earbuds the night before

This is huge! Trust me the last thing you want to do after waking up is search around for all your work out gear. The number of times I went back to bed because I could not find my ear buds is embarrassing. Having your workout gear ready the night before will put you 10 steps ahead come the morning.

Also, plan to get into your workout clothes and put your sneakers on as soon as you wake up. This lets your mind know you are getting ready for a solid sweaty workout!

#4 Plan out your exercise routine ahead of time

Wake up each morning with an exercise plan. What exercises are you going to do? How long? Are you going to switch up exercises on certain days?  Having an exercise plan helps you getting started and stay focused on your workout. However, don’t feel like you need to do an iron man workout every day. Even a little exercise is better than no exercise so do what can. The point is know what those exercises are going to be.

Not having a plan will just waste the precious time you have in the morning. You can view my weekly exercise schedules here. As you can see all of my exercises are done in my home. Therefore, I don’t need to plan for travel time to a gym. I have a treadmill and use resistance bands and 5lb weights. It’s not heavy duty but just enough to keep me in shape. If time is an issue for you I highly recommend creating a home exercise routine in place of going to the gym.

Here are some awesome routines OYS writer, and fitness instructor, Melissa put together.

The 20-Minute Cardio Routine

The Paper Plate Workout

5 Moves You Can Do With an Exercise Ball

5 More Moves You Can Do With an Exercise Ball

5 Targeted Toning Moves You Can Do at Home

You can see all here exercise posts here.

The take away point here is to wake up with a plan. Having your exercise routine in place beforehand will make all the difference with keeping you focused and following through.

#5 Give yourself a few minutes to wake up

In the past, I would wake up and immediately drag myself down to my basement to exercise. I was barely coherent and many times this caused my workouts to be mediocre at best. When I gave myself 10 minutes to wake up I became more alert and ready to exercise. During that 10 minutes I will drink water, stretch, and start listening to my music. I know this seems very basic but it is these simple tips that have shown some of the biggest results for me.

#6 Put together a motivating play list

The right music is essential to staying motivated during a workout – at least it is for me. When I have high energy motivating music playing I can run 30 minutes without thinking twice about. I highly recommend taking the time to put together a playlist specifically  to listen too when exercising.

#7 Exercise often

Whenever you are forming a new exercise habit the key is to do it often (at least 4-5 days) and for a long period of time (3-4 weeks). If you exercise sporadically it will always feel like you are starting from the beginning. Challenge yourself to stick with it.

When you begin waking up early to exercise it will be hard – very hard. You won’t want to do it and will probably have to push yourself a bit. However, after a few days it will get easier. Then after a week or so you will wake up before the alarm goes off and look forward to exercising. After a few weeks it will become second nature – exercising in the morning will become a habit. Once you form the habit you don’t need to be as strict. However, in my experience, keeping exercising consistent will help sustain your exercise habit.

I say this all the time…IT NEVER GETS EASIER YOU ONLY GET BETTER! Keep that in mind when things feel impossible or out of reach. You can do this!

If you like to exercise in the morning what are your tips for starting and sustaining a routine? I would love to hear from people who go to the gym in the morning, because that is an area I personally struggled with.


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  1. This is my goal for the New Year! I’ve been trying to do it for months, and I am going to do it this year!!

  2. Thanks so much for this post. I am desperate for motivation to help get me started on a regular consistent exercise plan. It seems every time I exercise I either get an injury like lower back pain, or shin splints (which I am very prone to), or I am so sore I am not motivated to keep it up. So you are right when you stated that is it always like I am starting over. Can you share what treadmill you use or one you recommend? Also would you mind sharing what your playlist consists of? Thanks again. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and have benefitted greatly from many of your posts.

    • There areare pre workout stretches you can do to avoid shin splints

    • If you are prone to injuries when you exercise, you might want to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. I am one and we can help make sure your body is ready to handle fitness activities. Depending on what state you live in you may need to get a referral from your doctor and your health insurance may pay for it. Physical therapy can give you the foundation you need to be able to exercise safely!

  3. Thank you for this post!!! I’m slow to get back on track, and your posts are really helping. It’s so hard to take care of yourself when you’re taking care of others. I know I’ll get there, I just need some help. Thank you for providing that help!!

  4. I agree morning is best. Once it becomes a habit its easy to do and you look forward to it.

  5. Hi Tammy, what a great website you’ve set up here! I’ve been trying to maintain just the sort of routines / plans you suggest for a couple of years now and have struggled to do this on my own, it’s really hard to be disciplined about food and meal planning when each member of your family has very different preferences of meals! I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with My Fitness Pal as a result of this and you have inspired me to get back to using it again – it did work for me when I first started using it, lost a good amount of weight over just 6 months but then found it a struggle to carry on and got a bit lost on trying to maintain my weight/calorie allowance long term. I am going to try again now to make this work for me in conjunction with all the excellent tips and advice you give on here, and will start wearing my Fitbit again which I have synced with MPF as well, thanks for giving me the jolt I needed to get back into healthy eating and exercise!!

  6. What is your routine after you wake up and finish your exercises?

    • Take a shower, get dressed while drinking my smoothie, get kids ready and off to school, then get to work 🙂

      • Fiona Rust says:

        Thank you for the tips to build in a routine. I have struggled in the past with staying with a morning exercise plan longer than a few weeks. The exercise part is fine and I always feel great (winded, but great!) when I finish. The difficult and non-sustaining part that makes me dread working out is that every plan I’ve tried wants you to drink a smoothie/protein shake after the workout, and to be quite honest, I pretty much hate smoothies… and therein lies my dilemma. Do you think eating some yogurt with nuts and cranberries with a wee dram of honey be an okay substitute instead of forcing myself to choke down a smoothie regardless of which “best smoothie ever” recipe I use? Thanks so much!

  7. I think all of these are great ideas but I think it’s important to set a realistic goal for yourself as far as the number of days / length of time for your workout . If someone hasn’t worked out in years and they set a goal to work out 5 days a week for 60 minutes , that may be a bit unrealistic and they may give up or feel like they’ve failed if they can’t meet That goal . I would say start small and be specific with your goal. Starting smaller sets you up for success and once you’ve accomplished those Fitbess goals set new ones. I think people are more likely to stick with exercise If they do that .

    I used to be 250 pounds . I joined ww in February 2011 ( on a Friday :)) and lost over 80 pounds which I’ve maintained within 6-8 pounds for over 2 years. In the process I became an indoor cycling instructor after rediscovering my love for group fitness. I’ve been teaching over a year and a half.

    If you’ve never tried group Fitness it’s also a way to plan your exercise for the week. I know it can be intimidating to walk into a class when you are first starting out – I’ve been on both sides of it first as a participant and now as an instructor trying to foster an environment where people at all fitness levels feel comfortable. After all most of us are there because we want to help people :).

    Sorry so long :). I love your blog.

    • I love group fitness classes! With two kids and a job, it is still the only way that fully motivated me to do a while workout at 6am! Whether it’s a spin class or body pump(weights) if you tell me what to do, I’ll do it!! Congrats on your weight loss, Danielle! I’ve just gotten into spin. It WAS an intimidating class to feel comfortable in since I’m still increasing my endurance. But I’m seeing results that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen if I worked out on my own, for sure!!!

      My husband feedsy kids breakfast and I have their clothes and backpacks/lunches ready the night before. I pack my breakfast and snacks for scored work the night before, as well as, lay out my gym others and pack my gym bag with a pair of scrubs for work and leave from the gym. If i don’t workout early it will never get done!! Great post!

  8. Babara Laurie says:

    No. 2 is my no. 1 struggle. I am not insomniac, with the work hours I am in, plus the fact that I can’t sleep at home right away because I have a 2 year old that I am looking after. So yeah, I am in for the rest on this list except no. 2. Nevertheless, I will still workout daily no matter what. Except when I am really low on energy and feeling over fatigued. 🙂

  9. Tha KS for your post. My exercise gear is now right by my bed, no excuses. I’m prepared!

  10. I Started out well 2015…then, something happened in my personal life & I quit…
    Getting very depressed in my life…
    Now I need to get in control with my life & quit the negative & get positive!!!

  11. Hi Tammy,
    I love everything your write.
    I may have missed it, but if you have not done so already, what are your tips for time management. If I plan on exercising (along with preparing meals, getting kids ready for school, writing, etc.) then I have to get up around 4am, and sometimes earlier. Sometimes this works for me (mostly in the Spring and Summer) and other times it does not (Autumn and Winter). I know that freezer cooking and prepping meals is a big part of time management. However, I find those tasks challenging as well. I did some freezer cooking for a while, but found that it was keeping me in the kitchen for an entire weekend, when you factor in shopping, portioning out food, storing food, etc. I only did it once a month or so, but found that even giving up that 1 weekend a month was a bit much. So I started doing a “modified” version of food prep. With this, I only spend a fraction of the time prepping food, but of course, when I go to fix meals I have more to do. You have shared so much with us and you inspire me. I would love to know how you were able to make this all work when you had your state job: Work full-time, worked on a blog/website, prepped meals, exercised, and probably most time consuming (but rewarding), raise kids and tend the entire family. I am trying to do all of that now, and believe me, time management is my biggest challenge.

    • Hi Anita,

      This is a great question and one I get asked a lot. Let me think about it and I will put together a blog post explaining. There is no doubt that food prep and everything that goes into a healthy lifestyle can be time consuming. Sometimes I really don’t know how I did it all or how I still continue to do it. I think I realize that even though it does take time up front it truly does make the rest of my week go much smoother. I try to carve out a few hours a weeks to plan for the week and may 1 full freezer cooking day every couple months to really stock up. But I totally understand the time issue especially when time is so precious. I guess that is my short answer. I will put together a post explaining a bit more and offering more tips in the near future. Thanks for your question.

  12. I wake up at 7:30am every morning, get straight into my workout clothes and allow myself 30 mins to wake up and doing my morning business including drinking a protein shake and drink my water. Do yoga ( a stretch and bend) and drink another bottle of water to be hydrated for my workout. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are workout days and everyday is a yoga day. It’s become a great routine and second nature to me now

  13. I go to a gym that offers a variety of classes. I prefer the social aspect offered with the class versus working out alone. It makes it a lot more fun and easier to stay motivated to go when you know there will be friends sweating beside you. I am also more consistent when I have to be accountable to someone else. The class sizes are small (8 people or less) and there is always a waiting list so if you don’t go. I started off taking one class 3 years ago and now work out 90 minutes a day 6 days a week. I was able to find a time that worked for my family and have been able to stick with it. I am not a morning person so 6:00 am is not practical. Once I get my kids off to school I head out for a 9:00 or 10:00 am class. Finding the right time that worked for all of us was key.

  14. Hi,

    This doesn’t mention breakfast…do you work out before eating anything/having coffee? I never know what to eat before or after working out and how much time before.

    Thanks for all your time. Make your recipes all the time 🙂

  15. I really struggle with this. Morning is not an option for me as I already have to get up at 5:30 to get to work on time. Like you, Tammy, I find that, when I get home I’m either to physically tired or mentally and emotionally drained to get on the darned treadmill. I start, feel really good about it and keep it up for about a month…..then I’m back to being a slug again. We’re about to start a walking challenge where I work. I’ve done 2 previously…one in October and one in November. I met my goal every single day, but, as soon as the challenge was over, so was 10,000 steps per day. I just need to know how to mentally and emotionally kick-start myself into action.

    • I have the same issue as you do Beverly, I already get up at 5:40 every morning to start my day. I am starting to plan to get up earlier in the morning to start running due to the warming weather but in the past, I was able to use the work out facilities at my office on my lunch hour including the shower, and stayed late 15 mins after to cover my time.

  16. By the way….I would add. I already do food prep. I make all my lunches and dinners for the next week over the weekend. I do use a lot of your freezer recipes and that helps….thank you very much. So, I don’t have that duty in the morning except throwing the stuff in the bag to pack out for lunch. Also…..I’m really an evening shower person. I know there are morning shower people and evening shower people. I used to be a morning person, but really like baths and showers at night now.

  17. I just discovered your blog, I’m really enjoying it! When I was 10 weeks postpartum, I decided I was going to lose the baby weight (3rd and unfortunately my last baby). I started tracking my calories and began a fairly intense interval workout. I went back to work when my baby was 12 weeks old and knew I had to stay determined in order to make this work. Having 3 boys to get ready in the morning along with myself means getting up at 4:30am to do my workout. I think when you’re so determined, you just make it work! I allow myself up to two “snoozes” on the alarm in the morning, while I’m lying there, I literally think of myself as a thinner and healthier version, this motivates me to get my butt outta bed! 🙂 I’m now 5 weeks into my healthier lifestyle and feel amazing! I heard that if you can stick with an exercise routine for 4 weeks, you’re less likely to stop, I hit that mark and can’t wait to hit the 6 week mikestone, then on to weeks and so on!

  18. I love my morning workouts & hate it if I miss a day. I’ve tried evenings before but I find I just don’t get the same quality of workout and sometimes it makes it difficult to sleep. This is a great post!

  19. i get up at 5 every day to run before I get my kids to school and myself to work. My three motivators … A friend I run with 2 or 3 days a week (we keep each other accountable); a black lab who depends on me for his morning run; and the need for that one hour of ME time every day to start my day off right. I now can’t skip my morning run …

  20. I took step #3 further and I actually put on my workout clothes the night before. When I get up, I am ready to put on my sneakers and go! Also, #4 is really important! I keep a workout binder with a calendar and at the beginning of each month I determine my workout schedule and write it down. When I do this ahead of time, it is easier to keep with the schedule and I get the gratification of checking off each workout.

    Also, it’s important to find exercise that you love. All of my friends are runners. I tried, but I truly do not like running and it was more and more difficult to keep up the motivation. Instead, I started working with videos from Shaun T and added in some Zumba classes. It’s a program that I can use long term and I am excited to exercise everyday!

    Thanks for your posts – I love reading your blog!

  21. I’ve been doing the T-Tapp 15 minute workout every morning and I love it. The workout video is ridiculously outdated, but I don’t sweat much, so I can still shower in the evening. I’ve been doing it for 2 weeks and (along with clean-eating) I’ve lost 4 inches off my waist and one from my hips. Plus, I feel really great!

  22. Get an accountability partner! It is best if you have someone to meet when you exercise. You won’t want to mess them up, and it will keep you motivated. I also use FB groups and my Fitbit (app) to help keep me motivated, you can have challenges with friends to help you keep going, they will praise you in the victories and encourage you in the struggles.

  23. I drive my kids in to school every morning and don’t have to be at work or class myself usually until 10:30, so I use that time to go to the gym and get ready for my day.

  24. Spot on! I’ve gone years with thinking I could make “after work” work. I spend the day talking myself out of going to exercise – craziness! 🙂 Now, I’ve dedicated a drawer in my dresser to exercise clothes, when I get up…I put on those clothes (hurdle 1 complete), then I take some time for me (I need my coffee) to wake up. Then, off to the gym or down to my basement. I dedicate 1 hour to exercise. Every excuse under the sun tries to sabotage getting at least 5 days in a week but you have to stand your ground. This is ME time.

  25. Great recommendations. As I am developing my morning exercise routine, I am finding that it is these seemingly little things that make a huge difference. I have access to showers and a gym at work, and my early morning routine helps me beat traffic. But showering and two meals at work present practical and emotional challenges. I’ll keep reading for more prep tips to overcome these. Thank you for the inspiration.

  26. Getting out the office to my lunchtime gym sessions is becoming harder and harder and I am beginning to resent paying the fee for it. Morning running seems to be the solution and I found this article very encouraging. I’m almost looking forward to it… almost!

  27. I really loved the tips you provided, I also use and app named Fabulous, It really helps me get my morning routine done.I was a bit lazy at first but the app helps me a lot. I started out with drinking one glass of water per day. Now I go running everyday and my fitness quotient is rising.

  28. Thank you Tammy for these tips. I have been thinking about gaining the habit of morning exercise recently and this topic just made it simplified for me and i just cant wait for tomorrow to start

  29. Hi Tammy , do u have breakfast before or after the morning exercise ? and what kind of smoothie do u prepare ?

  30. Thank you Tammy for these tips.


  1. […] week. I followed through with my morning exercise routine 4 times. I think it really helped that I put this article together the week before. It kept exercise on the brain for me and I plan to keep the momentum going this […]

  2. […] 7 Tips to Start Your Morning Exercise Routine […]

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  6. […] With a home exercise routine you eliminate the time issue. Yes you still need to make the time but when you don’t need to leave the house it becomes more “doable” to chisel out 30 minutes. By the way, you only really need 30 – 60 minutes dedicated a day for exercise. When you think about it that is not a lot of time to find in your day. How much time do you spend on Facebook or surfing the net? Watching TV? Playing candy crush? Hey, I am not judging. I get it. Trust me I am not queen of time management either. I can waste time with the best of them. However, we can’t say we don’t have time when 2-3 hours or more a day are being wasted. So pay attention to where your time goes. I bet you can find 30 – 60 minutes to exercise. If not, try waking up earlier before you brain figures out what’s going on. Here is a post I did on creating a morning exercise routine. […]

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