The Case for the 10-Minute Morning Workout

by | Aug 10, 2018 | Training

I just posted a new morning yoga flow video, and it got me evangelizing a bit about my slightly-obsessive-but-seriously-lifechanging habit of my 10-minute workout every morning. So, I wanted to quickly talk about that concept specifically, because of all of the habits that I’ve tried to force myself to stick with, this has been the one that has been the biggest change, and given me the most benefits. And it’s EASY. (Well, sort of.)

Why do it? A few reasons. First is math: 10 minutes every morning is 70 minutes per week. That means about 60 hours worth of training each year — and you barely even notice! It’s made a huge difference to my core, and I think it’s the reason that my abs are more defined now than they were when I was 22 and training for Ironman. Second is the wake-up that it gives you. I am NOT a morning person, really. I slink out of bed. But as soon as I start on my planks, I perk up. It gets you more awake than coffee, I promise! (Also you can do it while your coffee brews.) Third, I’ve found that the easy win of working out for ten minutes in the morning makes me more inclined to make healthy decisions throughout the rest of the day. Fourth, I realized I feel more productive because I can check something off the to-do list immediately, and that usually leads to a better morning… Plus, you feel a little smug that you’ve already done something. And fifth, it’s what Peter and I call our insurance policy: Even if the day gets too hectic to do a real workout, you still got to do something.

So, every morning when I get up, I do two things immediately:

First, I use the HRV app on my phone and take that 2 minutes to do a mini-meditation. (More on HRV here!)

Second, I roll out of bed — pretty much literally — and onto the floor. I set my phone on stopwatch mode, and I do five minutes of planks. Why five minutes? Why not? I do 1 minute with straight arms, 1 minute on my elbows, 1 minute to the right, 1 more minute on my elbows, and finish with a minute on the left. After that, I have a yoga flow with some core and plenty of hip openers, and I end with about a minute working on inversions, which is my current goal in yoga. I’ve been doing the exact same sequence almost since I started, and it takes about 13 minutes at this point.

Why don’t I change it up? I could, and arguably, I should… But five minutes of planks is still stupid-hard, and the yoga flow that I do, I’ve spent four years tweaking slightly so it’s exactly what I need every morning. And furthermore, this is simple. I don’t think about it, I just do it. I’m a huge fan of finding one routine and sticking with it, because the more times you do that, the less inclined you’ll be to spend half the time lying on your mat trying to think of what to do next. Keep it simple once you figure out what works for you.

My best advice? Figure out what makes you get this DONE. Trick yourself: that’s probably my best tip. For the first year, I tried to be super zen about the whole workout and yoga flow, once I watched enough yoga flow videos and had settled into my routine. I wanted to really do the whole mindfulness thing. But to be honest, it felt more like a chore that early in the day. So I started using the time to watch a part of a show. (Currently: new season of GLOW on Netflix.) That’s not going to be right for everyone, and I actually recommend trying to do your 10 minutes in silence or to chill music and see if that works for you. But if you need some added incentive, nothing wrong with working your way through every season of Friends while you do your sun salutations.

PS: It doesn’t have to be core + yoga. You might prefer doing a bit of core, but then some squats. You might be more of a dance-like-nobody’s-watching type. You might want to run or walk a mile. The point is to get SOMETHING done right when you wake up.

I also suggest—especially if you travel like we do—that you figure out a 10-minute routine that you can do anywhere, in any weather. That’s why I shifted away from running and into the core/yoga situation. I used to run, but while traveling, that can be tough, and when it’s winter in Ontario, it can take 10 minutes just to get ready to go outside, so you end up wasting a ton of time!

One last suggestion, if you need the motivation kick, would be to try it as a month-long morning workout streak: just try to do it for a month, and see how you feel by the end.

(Need some more ideas for workouts? Over on Rally Health’s site, I put together a list of 10-minute bodyweight and cardio workouts that you can do almost anywhere!)



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