Thirty minutes in the morning is about the usual time people can comfortably set aside nearly every day to dedicate towards something to better themselves. What can we really do in such a short amount of time? Is it good to start working out in the morning and how do I start?
These are all the usual questions I hear when people ask me this question. My simple reply is always yes.
Any movement is better than no movement at all. Since it is the very minimal time, it would be better than you do it way more often, maybe around 5-6 times a week.
The Best Morning Workout Routine
The best workout regardless of the time of the day is going to be something that you can ultimately stick to time and time again. If you’re starting out, this might mean just walking for 15 minutes until you are sure that you can keep this routine then add something more challenging.
Making a habit is number one. Remember, any movement is good movement.
Here’s a short routine I designed to focus on hitting major muscle groups with the least amount of time.
Every workout requires a good warmup that will increase the heart rate, body temperature and help all the muscles, tendons and ligaments be prepped for movement. This can take different forms for varying fitness levels, ranging from a brisk walk, jog or light run.
Ideally, we would do this for about 5 minutes, for the sake of time, we will reduce it to about 2.5 minutes.
Dynamic Warm-Ups / Movement Prep
Another very important part of a workout. Helping “unlock” that range of motion in a joint to help tolerate movement under load. This a very important part of a workout as it may help prevent injuries during a workout.
Here is a list of dynamic stretches with videos and tutorials.
- Inchworm 1×10
- Quadruped Thoracic Extension 1×10/per side
- Torso Twists 1×10
- Arm Circles 1×10/ Forward and Back
Muscle Release & Activation
Another optional warm-up is releasing and activating your muscles. You can choose tools such as a lacrosse ball and a foam roller.
Here is a list of muscle release and activation exercises.
These you could do for 1 set of 15 – 45 seconds each.
This workout should take over 15-30 mins long.
Goblet Squat to Dumbbell Chest Press (Back to Back)
2-3 sets of 12 reps(per exercise), 30 seconds rest.
Romanian Deadlift to Dumbbell Row (Back to Back)
2-3 sets of 12 reps (per exercise), 30 seconds rest.
2 sets of 1 min, 30 seconds rest. Pick any variation you want!
Post-workout stretching is so important and many times ignored. After your workout you are tired and just want to get out of the gym and just go home and go to sleep. We have all been there. But taking those few extra minutes to stretch and relax can be very beneficial. It can help improve our flexibility as long as we are consistent with it, helping reduce that post-workout tension, tight legs, tight back which can all be pretty nagging the day after or two days post-workout. Stretching can also be very therapeutic when it comes to mental clarity and help us feel a lot better.
Stretching Routine (15 seconds per side)
Bonus: How to Start Working Out in the Morning
Sometimes morning workouts don’t feel good. This is totally normal if you aren’t used to waking up early in the morning. Movement is good at any time of the day especially if you only have time in the morning.
Keeping the same old sleep routine and expecting to feel different isn’t the answer. When you wake up in the morning, you want to feel ready to go and energized, not sleep deprived and hitting snooze.
Getting to bed hours earlier is very important. Ideally about 7-8 hours of solid sleep, this is not including the time it takes you to fall asleep. About 2 hours before bed, turning off all the lights, televisions and cellphones may just help you be able to fall asleep quicker.
If you want to be fitter and stay energized, simply make as little time as 30 minutes a day to workout!
More Workout Routines
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.