“There are some things every man should wake up to in the morning: a beautiful lady, breakfast in bed, and his favorite newspaper waiting for him.” – Hugh Hefner
I will personally add a great sunrise to that list. Hugh was obviously on to something however, since that is not a reality for most of us, fit men should at least be waking up to a proper morning cardio routine. It’s understandable that some men don’t consider a brisk, morning jog very desirable, but a man should start his day as he wants the rest of it to go. Every muscle, every sense, and every thought should be vying for 100%. The fact is that performing a cardiovascular workout first thing in the morning sets you up to tackle the day ahead.
Performing a morning cardiovascular activity (i.e. running, cycling, rowing) will wake you up more than a turbo-jetted shower. Endorphins released into your body give you a natural ‘high’ that will make you feel positively euphoric. Your stress levels will be reduced, your mood will improve and blood circulation will increase throughout your body. All in all, you’ll be ready to kick start your day before you’ve even touched your breakfast.
Most men aren’t morning people and hitting the tarmac after only a few minutes of waking up is not a very pleasant thought. No matter what distance you run or how hard you push yourself, starting the morning with a ‘high intensity’ cardio workout will always be the hardest hurdle to jump. There’s no simple answer to getting started. Morning cardio is just something that you are going to have to learn to incorporate into your lifestyle. The good news is that, just like with anything new, once you get into the routine, it will become second nature
Find the Motivation
Why do you work out in the first place? Is it to lose weight, keep fit, or to just start your day off right? If you want results, you are going to have to work for them. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. You’ll be proud in knowing that while others may still be asleep or slowly moping around their house with a coffee in one hand and outdated ties in the other, you have already burned some body fat, helped your heart and taken steps towards improving digestion, endurance, blood circulation, immune functioning and overall mental health – reducing stress, increasing mental focus and improving self-esteem.
Cardio in the morning is better than cardio performed at any other time of day because morning cardio keeps your metabolism elevated for hours after the session is over. When your metabolism is high, you’ll burn more calories. It’s that simple. Even a few hours later while sitting at your desk twiddling your thumbs, your body is continuing to burn calories at an elevated rate because of your early cardio session.
If you wait to perform cardio until later in the day, your metabolism will drop as soon as your head hits the pillow, limiting the number of hours your metabolism is elevated. While you are asleep, your metabolic rate is lower than at any other time in the day, which means that you will hardly burn any extra calories, so ditch those late night cardio sessions for good. Another reason to choose morning cardio over night cardio is that an elevated heart rate will make it harder to get to get sleep, which, whether you realize it or not, is putting you a step behind for the following day.
So how many more calories are you burning with morning cardio? Studies have suggested that you’ll burn up to 300% more calories when performing morning cardio as opposed to evening cardio. This is because when you wake up, your fuel tanks are running on empty. All of the food you ate yesterday has been digested. If you hold off on breakfast and kick start your day with some cardio, your body has no choice but to immediately burn off secondary energy sources: body fat.
A study performed by Kansas State University has shown that if cardio is performed during the morning hours, rather than any other time in the day, one kilogram of fat will be oxidized more quickly. After a 12 hour fast, 67% of the total energy used will be fat you burned off. Exercise done later in the day can only burn up to 50%. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still watch what you eat. If you know that what you’re eating isn’t good for you, then it’s time you break the habit and create a healthier lifestyle.
Make it Count
While performing morning cardio, and to ensure that you burn off the maximum number of calories, you should try incorporating intervals. A study by the American College of Sports Medicine indicates that more calories are burnt in short bursts of high intensity exercise, rather than if performed at a slower, longer pace. So strap a watch to your wrist and begin switching between high intensity and low intensity levels every minute or so. With interval training, you’ll work both your aerobic and anaerobic muscular system completely in as little as ten minutes which can free up more time for your day.
The research is there, the facts are conclusive and the rewards are not only immediate, but abundant as well. Tomorrow morning is as good a time as any for you to begin a morning cardio routine. Transitions are tough, so start by only assigning one or two days to your cardio per week. The hardest part is actually doing it, so begin by setting yourself realistic goals and increase them with time. You’ll find that your mind, body and spirit will all be in unison and, as a result, your performance, professional or otherwise, will reap the rewards.
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