57 Tips How To Wake Up At 5 Am To Workout — [The Ultimate Guide]


To wake up at 5 am to workout can seem like a daunting task.

But in fact, there are some tips and tricks you can use to ignite yourself. To get out of bed and start the day with a perfect workout that will energize you for the rest of the day.

In this article, you will discover actionable strategies that combine neuroscience, biology, psychology, and effectivity hacks to have you wake up at 5 am to workout.

Every single day you plan to do so.

But before we discuss how to start implementing these strategies, so that you can wake up at 5 am to workout, we must first go over the philosophy behind waking up early for a morning workout.

Because philosophy guides action and action is what creates results.

How to wake at 5 am to workout – the philosophy behind the action

A woman who is working out at 5 am in the morning
Photo by Alora Griffiths

The art of the morning workout is something that always seems to be a hot topic for discussion.

A lot of people feel like they wake up too late, miss too many workouts and rarely reach their goals.

So they get a feeling, a sensation, that waking up earlier would provide them with more time on their hands, more energy to use, and that they would reach more of their goals.

But how come that waking up at 5 am for an early workout feels like a solid plan to stir them into action?

Would this lifestyle change provide them with the results they so desperately crave?

And how can you use this tactic to develop a morning habit yourself?

A sense of accomplishment – the early morning workout

A man working out early in the morning
Photo by i yunmai

One reason why we want to wake up earlier than our peers to get a workout in is that we will have completed a task before everyone else.

We are by our very nature social animals. We always compare our actions with those of the group – our friends, co-workers, family members, and people in the local area.

So if we can begin before everyone else, and complete something physically demanding and mentally rewarding before others even wake up, it will provide us with a tremendous sense of accomplishment that will sustain us through the day.

Plus, we don’t have to force ourselves to go in the evening after work when we have no energy left, which would only pour our motivation down the drain when we miss workout after workout thinking this time it will be different.

For this reason, we aim to wake up at 5 am to workout because that would put us in a position where we feel more focused, more determined, and more energized.

That is because our day started by doing something hard.

We managed to do what others often fail to do, which makes it more likely that we will continue with this habit in the future, which optimizes our lives, and ultimately brightens our future.

But before we can have all of these feelings of accomplishment pour all over us, we must understand the mechanics of what creates this scenario.

And the best strategies to reach it.

For this reason, we will go over these effective strategies on how to wake up early, create a morning workout routine, and build a life-long habit of working out before everyone else does.

Have a goal with your training

A man who wanted to wake up at 5 am to workout and build muscle
Photo by Arthur Edelman

When you wake up at 5 am to workout, the actual training is the action you take to move toward your goal.

The physical action, the strenuous exercises are what will create that body, health, and well-being that you are looking to have.

But what actually creates that action, the driving force behind your workout is the actual goal itself.

Although this might sound weird at first, there is a logic behind this argument that goes as follows:

For this reason, we don’t want to exercise and essentially waste all the energy we need for our survival. So we are evolutionarily hardwired to consume as many calories as we can, and move as little as humanly possible.

If you introduce the desire to exercise in the middle of this biological scenario, when you want to wake up at 5 am to workout, you will be working your fingers to the bone only to motivate yourself to workout.

To combat this law of human nature, you must devise for yourself an aim, a higher purpose, with your training.

There must exist a goal that helps you overcome the obstacles that stand in your way of working out.

To understand this dynamic fully, you must think of it in the following way:

Your morning workout routine is the program you run to accomplish your aims in fitness, your goal.

The goal itself is what drives the action, the function that starts the program and keeps it running by providing it with a sense of meaning and a direction at every turn of the journey.

Your goal works like a gravitational pull that eliminates the risk of seeing your morning workouts like random bouts of exercise and instead turns them into giant leaps toward becoming who you want to see in the mirror.

Having a goal with your training will provide you with a way forward, and a sense of urgency that all will propel you in the right direction.

You will come to see every workout as another leap toward accomplishing your aims, not something you do because you know it’s good for you.

That is rarely enough to establish a life-long habit.

Instead, you want to think deeply about what you want to accomplish with your training so that you can find a reason to wake up at 5 am to workout and actually develop a sustainable habit that will drive you forward.

The first steps toward a 5 am workout

A woman who has motivation to wake up early and workout
Photo by Lindsay Henwood

So the first step to always wake up at 5 am to workout is to create a goal you can aim all your actions at.

This is the system, the vehicle you fill with all the other tactics and hacks that drive you forward.

Without a proper goal, all the other tips and tricks will seem like an uphill battle.

Instead of a project that you can push downhill that turns into a flow-like state where everything just kicks into gear.

Find your why, and you will soon discover that you can bear almost any how, to paraphrase the famous Nietzsche quote.

That will stir everything else on this list into action.

So begin by establishing a proper goal for yourself.

Then the rest will become easier to master on your way toward accomplishing that very goal.

Create a motivating training schedule to wake up at 5 am to workout

A journal for a morning workout routine
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM

When you have created a compelling goal, you don’t want the way to reach it to be unnecessary hard and bumpy.

For this reason, you want to supplement your goal with a highly motivating and fun training program that excites you.

This is especially important when you want to wake up at 5 am to workout and turn it into a habit.

Because if you don’t enjoy your training, the training won’t take place.

Far too many people are worried about whether or not their training program is optimized for maximum results.

How many reps should you do, how fast should you run, and are you taking the right supplements to reach your goal?

Although thinking this way isn’t necessarily bad, but if a training program is optimized for the sake of being optimal, it isn’t tailored to you, and it won’t work.

Think of it in the following way:

The best training program for you

A man preparing for his morning workout
Photo by Alexander Redl

A training program that is objectively optimized based on scientific research but that you don’t enjoy is not optimized for you.

A program that looks perfect on paper, but you never use quickly becomes useless, and all its potential benefits go up in smoke.

You are far better off having a slightly less “optimal” training program that you actually enjoy and can stay committed to than having to push yourself through a boring one that has a slight advantage to the one you like.

The best training is the one that gets done. How optimal is a training program if you never use it?

Exactly!

For this reason, you must find a program that speaks to you and is something you appreciate. Something you can see yourself doing day in and day out until you reach your goal and want to head in another direction.

If you are not looking forward to leaving the comfort of your home to go and workout, you probably have a training program that doesn’t fit you.

It’s time to make a change for you to change.

With that said, not every workout will be fun. There must exist some resistance for you to grow. Pushing through those days where you just feel like giving up can be immensely rewarding.

But knowing that every day is like that because you have a training program that doesn’t fit you is not the way to go.

If you want to develop that inner motivation that will wake you up at 5 am to workout, your program must also do some of the lifting.

Find a program that you enjoy. Even if that means that it is less optimal from a scientific point of view.

Start small and build as you go – the strategy to wake up at 5 am to workout

The tools to wake up at 5 am to workout and create a habit
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM

One of the most common mistakes people make when they want to change their lives with fitness, wake up at 5 am to workout, and develop a new lifestyle is that they try to do it all at once.

They want to radically change their diet, workout like an elite athlete and reach their goal tomorrow.

Although this might sound like an inspiring and ambitious way to go, for beginners, this is a recipe for disaster.

Because when we want to learn a new skill, which all of this boils down to, we first need to develop patience and allow time to work its magic.

We want to be patient enough to test out all the components, including diet, workout plan, and our sleep routines.

If we start doing everything all at once, throwing everything at the wall, it becomes impossible for us to know what works and what doesn’t, and where we begin to modify our overall plan to optimize our results and advancements.

The same goes when we want to wake up early for a morning workout.

How to start waking up early and workout in the morning

Two men who are at the gym for a morning workout
Photo by Victor Freitas

Your end goal is to wake up at 5 am to workout so that you can start the day as optimally as possible.

But since you rarely begin your journey toward your goal at the finish line, you want to build up slowly and work your way there.

Wake up a little later, perform the same workout habits, and let the neurological rewards move the margin ever so slightly, making you want to wake up earlier and earlier as you go.

What then happens in your brain is that you will experience an elevation of testosterone when you accomplish your goal of training early in the morning.

These elevated levels of testosterone will become addictive in a healthy way where your body will begin to crave the surge of hormones yet again.

What this does is that your brain will begin to seek out ways for you to re-experience this pleasurable state of mind where you reward yourself for the tasks you have accomplished.

This puts you in an optimal state of mind – both psychologically and hormonally – where it becomes easier for you to wake up at 5 am to workout because your brain is chemically optimized for accomplishing more demanding (and thus rewarding) tasks.

If you, instead, would try to power through the whole change of behavior by going from never working out in the morning to try to get up at 5 am to train, the risk of failing is much too high.

And if you fail during the first week of this habit formation, the dissonance between what you imagined it to be and how it actually was will be so painful that you will probably not have the mental strength to attempt such a thing for a long, long time.

For this reason, you want to work your way up. Start by waking up at 7 am, workout and move on to the next task.

Move the needle to wake up at 5 am to workout

A picture of a shoe that is one item on the list of what to do before working out in the morning
Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde

The next day, get up at 6:30 am and see what happens. If you advance strategically, and if you give your brain time to reward you with pleasurable hormones and neurotransmitters, you will put yourself in an optimal state to actually accomplish your task of waking up at 5 am to workout and turn it into a life-long habit.

  • If this patient approach makes you restless, think of it in this way:

You exchange one week of slowly and carefully developing a habit for a life where you know that you can get up before everyone else, workout as hard as you can, and take control of the direction of your life.

You will forget that week where you worked your way up the very second your eyes open up when that 5 am alarm goes off, and you can’t wait to get going.

When your goal is to wake up at 5 am to workout, change your body, and optimize your health, the best way to get there is by having patience and to advance strategically according to how your brain works.

Get in the habit of using this patient approach and your brain’s reward system will take care of the rest.

Set an alarm to wind down

An alarm clock to wake up at 5 am to workout and build a healthy habit
Photo by insung yoon

When we are thinking about getting up early in the morning for physical exercise, we are often thinking about the discipline needed to actually wake up and get out of bed.

But what we rarely consider is the discipline we need to go to sleep at the right time.

Getting up at 5 am to workout is only hard if you haven’t had enough sleep before the alarm goes off.

If you, however, can train yourself to start winding down and going to sleep on time, the task of waking up early in the morning will become more comfortable and more of a habit rather than something that is hard to do.

For this reason, you want to calculate when you need to be asleep, how much wind-down time you need, and when you start turning off your electronic devices.

Depending on what kind of schedule fits your needs, you can have a daily alarm that goes off at the exact same time every day that lets you know it is time to start winding down.

Choose when to go to sleep and wake up at 5 am to workout

A person who wants to turn off the computer at night
Photo by John Schnobrich

If you want eight hours of deep sleep before 5 am, you need to be asleep at 9 pm every day. That means that you want to give yourself at least 30 minutes of wind-down time.

Preferably an hour or more.

The reason for this is that you are working on something when the alarm goes off, and if you are in a highly creative state, you can’t just get up and leave because your emotionless phone says so.

You want to finish what you are working on as quickly as possible and then go analog for the rest of the evening so that you can wake up at 5 am to workout in the morning.

Although the thought of not being able to browse through endless videos on YouTube until you pass out might scare you, the act of shutting off and winding down brings with it several benefits that will help you wake up early in the morning.

Here are three reasons and strategies for creating, keeping, and mastering your wind-down routine when you want to wake up at 5 am the next morning:

The neuroscience of artificial light –

Phone addiction and sleep with blue light in the dark
Photo by Andrew Guan

In your body, there are a number of hormones that regulate different parts of your body. These hormones operate to keep you in a perfect state where everything works and your body functions properly.

One of these hormones is called melatonin.

Melatonin helps regulate many things in the body, one of which is wakefulness; your sleep- and wake cycle.

If everything works correctly, your body regulates its own sleep- and wake cycle, which makes you tired when it’s time to go to sleep and kicks into gear when it’s time to go up and workout.

Unfortunately, however, it’s easy to start tinkering with this normal sleep response with something as common as artificial- and room light.

According to a study published in 2011, the exposure to room light before bedtime suppressed and interrupted the melatonin onset which negatively affected the duration of the body’s own melatonin signaling.

This exposure to room light impacted the sleep quality and duration of sleep in nearly all of the individuals who participated in the study.

This indicates that exposing yourself to artificial light during the usual hours of sleep heavily affects the quality of sleep you get and how well-rested you will be when you wake up, which is one good reason to establish a firm wind-down strategy an hour before bedtime.

According to another study from 2015, the use of a mobile phone before going to sleep either delayed bedtime or the actual sleep duration.

Cited in that study, another paper showed that the shortening of sleep duration proved to be around 40 minutes, which is a deficit of 4,6 hours of sleep per week or 239 hours in a year.

In another paper from 2011, exposing yourself to artificial light by using your mobile phone before bedtime could result in daytime sleepiness, a reduction of sleep quality, shortened sleep duration, and symptoms of insomnia.

What this means is that the actual hours of sleep are not only fewer, but the quality of sleep is also reduced if you spend too much time using electronic devices too late each day.

Therefore it is a good idea to have a wind-down strategy.

How to wind down before bedtime

A person doing deep sleep meditation to wind down and be able to wake up at 5 am to workout without problem
Photo by Simon Migaj

When your goal is to wake up at 5 am to workout, feel energized for the rest of the day, and sleep well during the night, you must get in the habit of winding down and turning off electronic devices that expose you to artificial light.

The most effective way to establish this habit is to set a time for yourself when you need to be asleep and work your way back from there.

If you need to be asleep at 9 pm, you want to begin your wind-down routine between 7–8 pm to give yourself enough time to finish up what you are currently working on, wind down, and drift into sleep.

One scenario could be a two-hour window where you have an hour to finish up what you are working on once the alarm goes off, and then spend the last hour before you need to be asleep sharpening your mind – more on that shortly, stay tuned.

Another thing you can do, or rather not do, is to rely on your phone to be your alarm clock because if you do, you will inevitably bring your phone with you to bed and begin fiddling with it.

To combat this tendency, you can create rules such as not bringing the phone into the bedroom and, instead, use a regular alarm clock to wake you up in the morning.

By doing this, you won’t be able to use apps to wake you up, but you will, on the other hand, get more hours of good quality sleep.

Once this habit of not being too heavily dependant on your phone has been thoroughly adjusted, you can re-introduce your phone and start using technology to advance your sleeping routines further, if you so desire.

As long as you stay disciplined enough to turn off your computer on time, not scroll through social media in bed, and not watch television right before you go to sleep, you will find it easier to wake up at 5 am to workout and feel energized for the rest of the day.

The when and how to sleep and wake up

A picture demonstrating the best time to sleep according to science
Photo by jesse orrico

There is yet another parameter you can tinker with when you want to optimize your sleep patterns so that you can wake up at 5 am to workout, and develop a new sleeping habit.

And that is to follow your biological sleeping rhythm.

During a 24-hour window, there are certain blocks of time where our bodies want to go to sleep and wake up which has been perfected and optimized through human evolution.

These patterns have to do with our endocrinological make-up; our natural responses to daylight and the onset of the night.

For this reason, our bodies have hormones that regulate our sleep- and wake cycle so that we become tired when it’s time for bed and feel energized when it’s time to wake up.

Would we, however, work against our natural rhythm, we are causing a lot of unnecessary commotion in our endocrine system that will make it harder for us to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up at 5 am to workout as a healthy habit.

The best action to take is to find when these windows of opportunity occur and schedule our days so that we go to sleep at an optimal time so that we can wake up at the top of this biological bell-curve, feel refreshed and ready to start training.

Here is how to find these optimal hours:

The optimal hours for sleeping and waking up

A man who knows how to wake up early and not feel tired
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz

In the earliest days of our ancestors, people couldn’t rely on an alarm clock to wake them up.

They didn’t have a reason to either – because there weren’t any meetings or appointments to attend. Yet.

Instead, these people relied on something else to lull them to sleep and draw them out of deep slumber; they grew dependent on the rise and fall of the sun and how the daylight shifted.

What woke them up was the natural light of the sun rising, and what made them go back to sleep was the sunset, together with the fluctuating temperatures, which affected their internal system.

This shift in light deeply altered our nature; we adapted to these changes, and our brains got in the rhythm of following this cycle of light and the shiftings in ambient temperature.

This adaption is something we can, and should, use to our advantage when we want to wake up at 5 am to workout and turn our desires into actions, and goals into habits.

Before we move on, we need to discuss these factors more thoroughly and in-depth because there is more than meets the eye when we want to understand the biology behind our natural sleeping patterns.

Argument A: Homo erectus had no choice before the invention of fire

A picture of a fire to inspire people to wake up early
Photo by Joshua Newton

Obviously, the days before the invention of fire left the humans with no option but to go to sleep when it was pitch-black outside; they couldn’t prolong the day by lighting a fire or creating any other form of light.

Once fire was invented or discovered, however, our earliest ancestors could sit around a campfire, share stories and stay awake longer due to the light that the fire created, which could easily be mistaken for a deviation from the argument that the sun controlled our sleeping patterns.

But that is not the case.

By the time fire became a part of our daily lives, we, as a species, had already developed a nervous system that was highly adapted to the sun and natural light.

Even a controlled fire couldn’t prevent us from falling asleep during the night and waking up in the morning because there are too many factors involved that one single discovery can’t change or eliminate.

The evolution had already run its course; our internal system, our inner clock, was now adapted to this cycle.

The modern human is no different than the original one when it comes to the need for sleep and the optimal hours for deep and restful slumber, which we can use to our advantage in our pursuit of establishing a morning training routine.

Argument B: Some people are morning people, and some are not

A picture of a desert to symbolize the benefits of early to bed early to rise
Photo by Giorgio Parravicini

Another argument is that there exist two kinds of people.

One type that is an early riser by nature.

And one type that is, what we shall call, a night owl.

The argument goes that people are born different and that there is nothing we can do to change that; some people just need to stay up late and sleep all day to function properly because that is how they are built.

Although there are complex biological differences in how we are wired, the fact that some people tend to stay up late and sleep through the day is no evidence that they have somehow transcended millions of years of evolution, and are wired to be resistant to natural light, changes in temperature, and the normal rhythm of things.

It is, instead, a sign that something isn’t right.

To dive deeply into this subject is another blog post entirely, but to discuss it briefly, this probably has to do with poor dietary habits, fluctuating levels of anxiety or depression, an out of sync sleeping habit, and a lack of purpose that will drive them out of bed in the morning, and even make them go to bed at night – as we discussed earlier about winding down.

All of which contribute to an even deeper problem when combined with a sleeping pattern that goes against their very nature.

A problem that causes a lot of commotion when it comes to hormones, neurotransmitters, and the normal functions of the body.

The truth is: This kind of sleep cycle is called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder.

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder

A woman who is a night owl and can't sleep
Photo by Andrei Lazarev

This disorder makes it harder to keep up in school, and it makes employment rather difficult, apart from tinkering with the biological clock of the sufferer.

Other factors that contribute to the development of Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder are levels of melatonin, shifting body temperatures, and waves of cortisol to name a few, which all have to do with the rhythm of the circadian clock, your biological rhythm.

This sleeping pattern also messes with the cognitive functions, and decreases alertness, and negatively affects the brain’s performance, which not only eliminates the chance of being able to wake up at 5 am to workout but also messes with the internal system by compromising the hormone’s natural state.

Inevitably, some people will find it easier to get up at 5 am to train than others.

But if you feel like you are one of those who just can’t because you stay up late and sleep all day, the game isn’t rigged to ruin your aspirations of becoming a morning person.

Start by configuring your diet. Are eating too many carbohydrates? Are you eating a lot of sugar late at night? Perhaps you could try a low-carbohydrate diet for a while and see if that helps.

Are you experiencing emotional distress that keeps you up at night? Maybe you need to talk to a professional or tell someone who is causing the pain the truth, no matter the consequences.

Begin troubleshooting and see what problem is making it unnecessarily hard for you to fall asleep and wake up early.

Then start by getting to bed on time and falling asleep a bit earlier than you usually do, without thinking about what time you get up, and then work your way toward your goal.

A psychological trick you can use

A man thinking about what the best thing to eat before an early morning workout is
Photo by Austin Neill

One last psychological trick you can use is to write down on a piece of paper what you are going to do tomorrow that excites you.

Write down that you are going to train in the morning and feel the excitement rush through your body.

Preparing your body and mind this way will make it easier for you to wake up and to actually go and do it; when you need to wake up at 5 am to workout no matter what.

And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t wake up at the exact time you expected to in the beginning; view every little advancement as a step in the right direction, and aim to do better each time you try.

That will make it happen, faster than you thought was possible.

The optimal time for sleeping and waking up

A picture of an hourglass as a symbol for the best time to wake up when you want to workout
Photo by NeONBRAND

Even with some scientific knowledge, the optimal time for you when you should be sound asleep and when you should get up have to do with a multitude of factors that you must understand to get it right.

Biologically, there is a window of opportunity that usually starts around 8 pm and ends around 11 pm and then begins again somewhere around 5 am and stops at about 8 am.

Somewhere in these windows of opportunity, you should go to sleep and wake up.

And since your goal is to wake up at 5 am to workout, you already know your starting point for the day.

Then your job becomes to merely do the math, find out when you should be asleep and experiment with how much time you need to wind down and actually fall asleep.

Some people might need 30 minutes, while others want two hours before they fall asleep because they want to execute a few habits before they hit the sack.

Depending on your goals, if you feel more motivated to work in the morning or in the evening, you can try out different scenarios.

To track your progress, you can keep a journal where you write down if two hours were too much or if 30 minutes went by too fast.

Tracking your experiments in this journal will provide you with a clear view on what is an excellent fit for you and your goals so that you can create for yourself an optimal plan that will work all day every day.

You are essentially creating a wind-down routine that you follow as a part of your pursuit to be able to wake up at 5 am to workout, feel energized, and take on the world with all your might.

Here are a few basic steps you can use to create a strategy for how and when to wind down in the evening.

The practical wind-down guide

A journal where you can write down your morning workout to lose belly fat
Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia

First, you need to do the math for when you should be asleep to pull this off.

If you want to wake up at 5 am to workout, you want to sleep at least seven hours, but preferably more than that. So let’s go with eight hours.

To accomplish this, you need to be asleep at 9 pm sharp.

Depending on if you want to work in the evening or not, the time you need to wind down will differ.

A recommendation is to set the alarm on your phone for when you need to start finishing up your work and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep.

Try setting this alarm at 7 pm. That will give you at least an hour to finish up what you are working on and still have time to wind down, relax, and fall asleep at an appropriate time to be able to wake up at 5 am to workout and find the energy to workout hard so that you can get the results you are after.

If two hours is a bit too much, make a note of it in your journal at try to shorten it a bit. Perhaps you only need 30 minutes to finish up and start your wind-down routine?

Perfecting this strategy might take a week or more, and what you feel is perfect for you will most definitely fluctuate over time.

So be prepared to change your strategy ever so often so that it fits your needs and your current goals.

But to start, you want to try to keep it as steady as possible because otherwise, you are aiming in the dark, and you won’t hit your target, and you won’t be able to wake up at 5 am to workout and win the day.

The wind-down template

The picture shows wind down activities for adults
Photo by Simon Migaj

7 pm – Finish up the work
8 pm – Shut down your electronic devices
8–9 pm – Initiate your Evening Routine (stay tuned)
9 pm – Zzzz
5 am – Have the workout of your life (i.e., wake up at 5 am to workout)

Fiddle with this idea; try different times and see what works best for you.

Soon you will discover what works best for you and you will learn a lot about yourself in the process because this exercise will reveal a lot about who you are as a person, too.

Give it a go. You will like it because it streamlines the process so that you can wake up at 5 am to workout and feel really good about yourself.

But how about that Evening Routine, you ask! There is an hour there where you don’t know exactly what to do.

Well, this is how you tackle that problem.

Have an evening routine

This tea cup shows you a couple of evening routine ideas
Photo by Miti

All people seem to talk about is how their Morning Routine affects their work and how what they do in the morning sets the tone for what they do for the rest of the day.

Although this is true and tremendously important, what they often fail to mention is the importance of having a steady and personalized Evening Routine.

Because if you haven’t got an Evening Routine, if no philosophy guides your actions before going to sleep, you will find yourself scrolling through Instagram, looking at kittens for several hours.

Since this kills your sleep quality and wastes your non-renewable precious time, you must fight hard to combat the tendency.

For this reason, you must devise for yourself an Evening Routine that lets you know when you should be in bed, what you should do before falling asleep, and strategize so that this routine helps you perform better once tomorrow.

Although the Evening Routine might sound like a bore, something that takes away time from work, if done correctly, this habit will actually increase your productivity and make you more effective during the day because you are not fooling yourself that what you do after 11 pm is important and will advance you further.

If you can become, and stay, persistent with your Evening Routine, you will have no problem whatsoever to wake up at 5 am to workout because not only will you have had a sufficient amount of sleep, the actual sleep quality will also be better because you didn’t stare at a news feed until you passed out from exhaustion.

No, you were already calm and ready before you even got into bed. That’s the beauty of having an Evening Routine.

That, and the fact that you can sneak in some highly productive habits there too. Things you perhaps didn’t think about when you first began strategizing this way.

But what exactly is an Evening Routine, and what can do you do that counts as productive things that still prepare you for a good night’s sleep?

Here are a few examples of what you could do to wind down while staying productive after having worked all day.

Tactics for creating an Evening Routine

Men making a daily routine
Photo by rawpixel

Depending on who you are and what speaks to you as a person, there are a few different things you can do and include in your Evening Routine.

The nuts and bolts of your Evening Routine are the following:

This routine is basically a time-space, a window of opportunity, that you fill with relaxing and mind-stimulating activities that make you feel a sense of accomplishment while also lulling you to sleep.

What those tasks are is entirely up to you, but try to keep them as non-electronic and analog as possible to get the most out of this habit.

One thing that you could try is to keep a journal where you write down and review your day.

How to keep an evening journal

A woman writing her evening journal
Photo by Green Chameleon

Did you complete all the tasks you set up for yourself, did you treat people nicely, and what can you do tomorrow that will make you more productive, happy, and fulfilled?

Review your day, and go through it with a fine-toothed comb; leave no stone unturned.

You can, then, re-read this journal entry in the morning to better prepare yourself for the day ahead, while also emptying your mind.

Write in with pen and paper, not with your computer.

There is a certain connection you get when working with your hands that you just won’t get from writing everything on a computer.

Get in the habit of writing with pen and paper when reviewing your day, and see what happens in your mind.

If this thought excites you, there is a high possibility that you will find this exercise both relaxing and rewarding, which will make it easier for you to wake up at 5 am to workout because you slept well and you prepared yourself for the upcoming day.

The art of evening reading before you wake up at 5 am to workout

A woman who knows that reading before bed helps sleep
Photo by Fabiola Peñalba

During the day there are so many tasks that are screaming for your attention.

If it’s not household chores, something is going on at work that you must attend to.

For this reason, reading and expanding your knowledge rarely fits your mid-day schedule, which makes it harder for you to reach your mental potential because you aren’t reading enough.

Therefore, you can make it a habit of reading before falling asleep.

Turn off your smartphone, shut down your computer, and get excited about learning something new from books.

Spend a half hour or so reading before falling asleep, and make a couple of notes of what you just read, and see what kind of impact that will have on your life.

Regardless if you find the books yourself or if you subscribe to a book recommendation list, turning reading into a nightly habit will have a significant impact on your life because you strategically and regularly learn new things that you can use to become more productive, save more time, and potentially increase your income.

If your Evening Routine gives you one hour to fill with relaxing, yet productive tasks, dedicate 30 minutes of that time to reading and see what happens.

You will be amazed at how much you will learn, and how fast you can expand your knowledge, while also getting good quality sleep according to plan.

Meditate yourself to sleep to wake up at 5 am to workout

A picture of stones that symbol meditation that is a big part in being able to wake up at 5 am to workout and build a healthy body
Photo by Sean Stratton

One thing that is highly effective in relaxing your body is meditation.

The act of breathing deeply, and emptying your mind of unnecessary thoughts works as a primer for good quality sleep because meditation helps you cope with stress and it can reduce levels of anxiety and aid you in fending off bouts of depression, and other affective disorders.

For this reason, it might be a sound idea to include meditation in your Evening Routine because you will sleep better if you are in a relaxed and emptied state of mind.

10 minutes are enough to generate beneficial effects on the brain and your body.

Meditation and mindfulness practice can also lead to an increase in gray matter density in your brain, which helps you process memories better, it aids you in regulation your emotions, and it makes it easier for you to learn new things, and also increases your perspective, which allows you to make better everyday decisions.

Therefore, meditation before going to sleep as a part of your Evening Routine sets the tone for the next day, which will make it easier for you to handle stress, keep you calm, and regulate your emotions.

The science of stress

A picture of a man who is stressed and needs to read more about the research of Robert Sapolsky
Photo by Nik Shuliahin

According to research done by the excellent professor of neurology and biology Robert Sapolsky, stress can do such awful things as kill off your brain cells, permanently alter your brain, and suppress your immune system.

Or in the words of Sapolsky himself:

“If you turn on the stress response chronically for purely psychological reasons, you increase your risk of adult-onset diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re chronically shutting down the digestive system, there’s a bunch of gastrointestinal disorders you’re more at risk for as well.”

To combat this, and make you more stress tolerant, you could implement meditation as a part of your Evening Routine.

And if you meditate right before you go to sleep, you will also find it easier to fall asleep because meditation reduces the levels of cortisol that rise if you stay awake past 11 pm.

Get in the habit of breathing deeply so that you can sleep soundly and you will see that it will become so much easier to wake up at 5 am to workout and reach your goal faster.

Summary wind-down evening routine – how to wake up at 5 am to workout with a tactic

A person writing a wind-down list so that the person can wake up at 5 am to workout and not be tired in the morning
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters.

You can choose any task you’d like to be a part of your Evening Routine.

As long as what you are doing doesn’t involve an electronic device, puts your mind at ease, and lulls you to sleep, you will be alright.

Do not, however, choose randomly.

Make sure that what you choose speaks to you as a person and takes you one step closer to your goal.

Everything you do should be aimed at a goal that is specific.

In this case, your goal is to wake up at 5 am to workout, and develop a healthy habit.

So pick a task for your Evening Routine that helps you develop this morning habit so that you can get where you want to go, and have what you desire.

Once you get in the rhythm of winding down when the night comes down, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to work.

Prepare the night before – the mental strategy

Two people playing chess to symbolize the creation of a mental strategy to wake up at 5 am to workout and develop a healthy habit
Photo by rawpixel

One of the most common killers of motivation in the morning is doing additional tasks that eat up large chunks of time.

Time that you could have spent working out.

To combat this, and to become more effective in the morning, you could use a preparation strategy to get ahead.

One key lesson from the effectivity guru David Allen is to prepare things when you are smart so that you know what to do when you are dumb.

This philosophy does not imply a fluctuating level of intelligence through the day; it means that when you are stressed, your rational brain shuts down, and it’s biologically impossible for you to think straight.

For this reason, Allen suggests, you want to do all the tactical work and all the preparations long before launch date so that when D Day comes, you don’t have to think about what you should do. You can just trust your preparations and concentrate on advancing and getting a nice workout in.

What this means, essentially, is that you prepare all the things you are going to need in the morning the day before so that when you are tired, groggy, and not fully awake, you can just grab your stuff, know that everything has been prepared, and you focus on working out.

There are a few things you are going to need to be able to pull off a nice morning workout. All of which you can prepare right before you start your Evening Routine.

These things are the following:

  1. Breakfast
  2. Morning beverage
  3. Your bag
  4. Time schedule

Prepare your breakfast to wake up at 5 am to workout

A morning breakfast table to answer the question what to eat after waking up in the morning
Photo by Phil Hei

A common complaint that people have is that they have no desire to eat in the morning.

They just don’t feel like eating that early because they are not hungry.

Admittedly, some people need to be awake for a longer time before their appetite kicks in, but one thing that doesn’t change depending on who you ask is a bodily function called Cortisol Awakening Response.

The Cortisol Awakening Response works in the following way:

When you are asleep, your brain basically shuts down so that you can rest and unload unnecessary memories and weight that won’t be important the following day.

You are sound asleep.

But since you can’t be asleep forever, unless you want the leading role in a classic Disney movie, the body has developed a system to wake you up.

Enter The Cortisol Awakening Response

A man researching on his computer about cortisol awakening response and anxiety
Photo by Kevin Ku

Somewhere between 4 and 5 am, your body will start the increase the levels of norepinephrine, adrenaline, and finally cortisol in your system.

What this essentially means is that your body is trying to wake you up and slowly, yet firmly, pull you out of slumber.

These three neurotransmitters are the key components in your Fight Or Flight reflex, so they regulate alertness, readiness, and wakefulness, to name a few areas they affect.

So when the morning comes, your body signals to you that you should wake up, find ways to survive and go out to hunt for food.

And since our bodies rarely give us the benefit of being able to choose whether or not we adhere to its signals, the body has “cursed” us with the following scenario:

When you wake up, thanks to these neurotransmitters (and probably your alarm clock), you must remain awake, and even become more awake as more times goes by.

For this reason, your body will keep increasing the levels of cortisol in your body.

  • Quick note: Norepinephrine and adrenaline are fast jabbers that enable you to react quickly and then disappear. Cortisol acts more slowly and gives you energy to draw from for roughly 40 minutes which makes sense in a situation where you either are forced to fight or run to save your life, all of which will take some time and energy to endure.

One way to stop these cortisol levels from rising is to eat some food. Preferably protein and fats, since carbohydrates in the morning introduce other problems that will slow you down.

But it gets harder. You don’t only have to eat food, you have to get a large protein and fat heavy breakfast in within 30 minutes from the moment you wake up because if you eat sugary food, your blood sugar levels will crash later in the day, increase cortisol and have you craving junk-food.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to prepare your breakfast the night before.

How to prepare the night before you wake up at 5 am

A picture showing foods that wake up the brain
Photo by Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian

Cook everything that you need to cook.

Prepare a large breakfast that consists of 30 grams of protein minimum.

The rest of the calories should come from fat and from dark leafy greens.

This is one key element to how you can wake up at 5 am to workout, and not crash from stress or exhaustion before you even left your home.

One more thing.

A lot of people claim that they are not hungry in the morning.

This is not about enjoying your breakfast, it’s about getting it done.

Eating an early breakfast with a lot of protein and healthy fats has nothing to do with pleasure and everything to do with function.

If you are hungry in the morning, and you enjoy eating an early breakfast, great!

But if you don’t, you must see this as an exercise, a warm-up before your workout, a job that must be done, and done well, every single day.

Otherwise, you are running the risk of suffering from the negative effects of having elevated levels of cortisol and high levels of stress.

The Dark Side of Cortisol

A science lab where you can measure your cortisol levels and know how to lower them by eating breakfast
Photo by Hans Reniers

What happens if the Cortisol Awakening Response is allowed free reign in the body is that the cortisol levels will continue to rise and stay high until you go to sleep again.

If you can fall asleep with high levels of cortisol that is.

Because here is how this works:

High levels of cortisol will pull out most of your blood sugar from your system, which will make you fatigue more easily.

In an attempt to combat these feelings of fatigue, you will want to eat sugary snacks, and all kinds of junk food to “re-energize” yourself, and drink lots of coffee.

But this will only make your body try to send out more cortisol, which drains your adrenal glands (the endocrine glands that create cortisol) even more because you only have so much energy to draw from.

Here is where your vision is impaired, you will experience extremely low motivation and willpower so you won’t complete important tasks, and your mood has hit rock bottom, which affects your social abilities.

The dangers of high levels of cortisol

A skull displaying how to lower cortisol levels at night and the dangers of high levels of cortisol
Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie

Permanent high levels of cortisol have also been linked to causing all kinds of problems in the body because cortisol signals to your body that you are constantly under attack and you must either run or fight, all the time.

An effect that should only last a couple of minutes, which is enough time for you to run away or fend off an attacker.

You should not feel this way for an entire day, week, month or a year.

Walking around with too high levels of cortisol can result in feelings of anxiety, a higher risk for developing depression, digestive problems since your body thinks you are running away from danger and can’t be bothered with digesting food.

Too much cortisol for too long also puts you at risk for developing heart disease, but also sleep problems and memory and concentration impairments, to name a few problems that arise.

Basically, daily high levels of cortisol can ruin your health.

And when it comes to training, too much cortisol will eat away at your muscle mass and make it impossible for you to burn fat, so that’s something to consider, too.

Fortunately, the solution is simple.

Plan, cook, and prepare your breakfast the day before and eat the breakfast within 20–30 minutes from the moment you wake up and most of your stress-related problems will vaporize into thin air.

But then we have coffee.

Have the coffee ready to wake up at 5 am to workout

When is best time to drink coffee according to science is what this picture symbolizes
Photo by Demi DeHerrera

A lot of us love coffee.

That first sip of the day will make all the worries go away.

But how does it work with breakfast if coffee releases cortisol? You don’t want to be super strict with your breakfast, only to ruin all the health benefits and all your hard work by drinking coffee?

Correct. To pull this off, we need to be a little more strategic by preparing the coffee and having a plan, a philosophy, for when we allow ourselves to have that first cup of coffee.

Here is a funny twist.

Although high levels of cortisol have negative effects on your fat burning abilities and can drain your adrenal glands, small bouts of cortisol, preferably induced by drinking coffee, can actually enhance your fat burning abilities short-term and increase your concentration during your workout so that you can perform better and get better results.

This has to do with what is called the Dose-Response Relationship.

You can think of this in the following way:

How the immune system works

A person who is sick after finding out the answer to if should you exercise on no sleep or not
Photo by rawpixel

Our immune system is an unfinished product of our biology.

The way our immune system grows stronger is by exposing it to things that it should protect us from but in small doses.

There have been studies where they showed that children only developed peanut allergies in countries where their mothers were adviced not to eat nuts during their pregnancy.

Moreover, being injected with a small dose of poison, generally, will probably have no negative effect on the body. But if you inject a large dose of that same poison, it might prove to be lethal.

The same goes for coffee and cortisol.

If you drink coffee at the right time, for the right reason and with the proper dosage, you will experience tremendous benefits.

But if you drink coffee all the time, especially the first thing in the morning, the Dose-Response Relationship will change and turn all the positive benefits into negative side-effects.

In one scenario, coffee and cortisol can enhance both the beneficial effects of your training and your fat burning.

While in a second scenario, coffee and cortisol can make it impossible for you to burn fat and will drain your energy levels so that you won’t be able to wake up at 5 am to workout because you are so exhausted that you need to sleep until 10 in the morning.

To combat this second scenario, you must be a little tactical with when, how, and why you drink coffee.

Here is how you do it:

How and when to drink coffee to advance your workout

A picture showing when to drink coffee before workout
Photo by Victor Freitas

The best time to drink coffee is right before you start your warm-up routine.

The reason for this is simple:

It takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to reach maximum effect.

During this time, you will have enough time to warm-up, stretch and actually begin your workout.

You will, of course, experience immediate effects after drinking the coffee, which will get you through your warm-up.

But then once you have begun your workout, the beneficial and internally energizing effects of the coffee will kick in, which enhances your short-term fat burning abilities, makes you train harder, and fend off fatigue.

All without rendering your breakfast strategy useless, and all without causing you to crash and burn due to adrenal fatigue.

Especially if you eat within 30 minutes of finishing working out, as well.

Plus, if you prepare everything that goes with making coffee, you will be less tempted to drink it the first thing you do because you only have to start the coffee maker without having to smell it while you prepare it.

One more benefit of preparing your coffee and drinking it later is that you are practicing delayed gratification, which is one key component in success and substantial advancement in life.

And if you always drink coffee for a reason and to help you during your workouts or to complete a daunting task, you will be less likely to rely on coffee as a crutch, which will make it less likely that you will exhaust yourself. All of which will make it easier for you to wake up at 5 am to workout, and workout hard.

Drink coffee, but drink responsibly, and drink strategically. That will enable you to reap the most benefits of this habit you are trying to develop when you want to wake up at 5 am to workout.

Pack your gym bag before bedtime to wake up at 5 am to workout

Gym bag essentials bodybuilding
Photo by Josiah Weiss

Another thing that will make it less likely that you will forget something you need for your workout at home is to pack your bag the day before,

Imagine having to remember everything you need, find it in the dark, and pack it in your bag when you have only been awake for 30 minutes, and haven’t had coffee yet.

Wanna try? No? Okay.

Create a list of all the items you need and make sure you pack them before going to sleep.

Doing this will ensure that you don’t forget anything important. And there will be one less task to think about when you are tired and not yet caffeinated.

But this habit also has psychological benefits.

Packing your bag the day before signals to your brain that you are going to do something important tomorrow.

This habit puts you in a mental space where it will become easier for you to fall asleep, and effortless for you to wake up because your brain is already primed and ready to wake up at 5 am to workout and to just go through the program.

And what’s also nice about this habit is that if you would wake up and feel like staying home, the bag will taunt you and scream at you to go since you already packed it.

It will hold you accountable (stay tuned) and you will be more likely to actually work out even if you don’t feel like it because you have already prepared everything you need.

So get in the habit of preparing as much as you can the day before to minimize the number of mental hurdles you must clear before you can leave and get a workout in.

So that the chances that you will wake up at 5 am to workout are so big that you will seem like a machine to those around you who prefer to sleep in and do whatever with their time.

If you can be strategic and plan all the way to the end, there will be little need for fleeting emotions such as motivation and inspiration.

You will have developed a system that works in the absence of emotions; you will be able to run your program regardless of how you feel and get almost ultrahuman results.

Prepare as much as you can, and you will be amazed at how much you will be able to get done.

Every day.

Schedule your time to wake up at 5 am to workout

How to schedule morning workout for men
Photo by rawpixel

The last thing you should prepare for you to wake up at 5 am to workout and reach your goals is to schedule your time and be mentally prepared for the tasks ahead.

The reason you want to schedule your time is so that you can get it out of your head and down on paper.

Because when you have everything on paper, or preferably on Google Calendar, you can actually begin to see where you everything is perfect and where changes should be made.

That, and to prepare yourself mentally for what is coming.

If you know, mentally, what time you need to get up, at what time you must begin your workout to have enough time to shower and get ready for work, you will find it easier to fall asleep.

But you will also find it easier to wake up in the morning because you have prepared yourself, psychologically, for what is coming up.

If you train your brain to understand that 7 pm means winding down, and 5 am means getting up to train, and you have it in your calendar, it will become easier for you to hold yourself accountable because now it’s not just an idea in your head.

It’s real.

You better do it.

Try different approaches to this, but make sure that you plan all the way through to the end.

Because planning everything will make it more likely that you actually do it since you can’t keep it a secret anymore.

It’s out. You must live up to your own expectations.

There is, also, another trick you can use to wake up at 5 am to workout, start building a habit, and avoid shame to wash over you like a cold shower.

How to wake up at 5 am to workout by writing notes to yourself

How to get motivated in the morning to exercise by writing notes
Photo by Joanna Kosinska

One strategy you can use, besides creating a schedule, is to write down 3–5 things you want to do in the morning and visualize how you are going to do them.

This exercise will not only excite you about what you will get done tomorrow, but it’s also a perfect primer for your brain, which will make it easier for you to wake up at 5 am to workout and turn that seemingly daunting task into a habit.

Everything has to do with creating a system for yourself.

If you can remove motivation out of the picture, prepare yourself neurologically and psychologically to workout early in the morning, you will soon begin to rely more on habits and systems rather than on fleeting emotions such as inspiration and motivation.

For this reason, you could write down notes to yourself where you plan out all the things you are going to do tomorrow that will excite you and make it easier for you to wake up.

These things could relate to the Morning Routine.

Or they could be spread out throughout the day; it depends on what works for you.

But do this right before you go to sleep.

Think about what you wrote down.

And let the thought of accomplishing these goals, and completing these tasks excite you so that your brain wants to wake up at 5 am to workout, and reward you with bouts of dopamine when you actually wake up.

Experiment with this tactic and see what happens.

Perhaps, it’s the final piece of the puzzle you need.

Summary – The Mental Strategy of Working Out In The Morning

A man adjusting to morning workouts
Photo by Lopez Robin

It all boils down to this:

You want to make everything as smooth as possible so that you don’t have to think about stuff in the morning that will drain your energy levels.

To accomplish this, you want to plan everything the night before and use mental tactics to get things out of your head and into your calendar.

The more things you can do before you go to sleep, and the fewer tasks you can have that you must do in the morning before your workout, the more likely it is that you will wake up at 5 am to workout according to plans.

Try these, previously mentioned, tactics and see where they lead you and modify them as you go so that they fit your wants and desires on your way toward your goal.

What this kind of mindset does is that it turns all your decisions in the direction of your goal.

All your decisions and all your actions affect your goal in one way or another.

For you to accomplish your aims, and to wake up when the morning comes, you want to direct all your decisions and actions so that they benefit your goal and help you reach it faster and in a more streamlined fashion.

Do not, however, try to do everything at once.

Try one thing out.

See how it feels.

Perhaps you need to move things around to make everything work.

When you have found the rhythm, you can implement yet another tactic into your overall strategy and see what happens.

But do it with a purpose in mind.

Otherwise, you are running the risk of getting tangled up in an optimization that leads you nowhere except down the drain because you will not know up from down, and you will stress yourself out.

So have a goal in mind.

Advance with a purpose, and you will see how fast things will begin to go your way.

Beat the enemy

A war picture symbolizing jocko willink wake up and move forward
Photo by Rod Long

One of the most important tools you can develop when you want to wake up at 5 am to workout is a mindset, a way of thinking, that will pull you out of bed and into training mode.

The way you think will shift the way you live because thoughts actually alter your neurochemistry.

A mindset that you can borrow when your ambitions are to get up early and work yourself beyond exhaustion is the one that you are beating the enemy.

The former Navy SEAL commander, podcast host, and author, Jocko Willink has filled his Instagram account with pictures of his watch that show how he gets up at 04:30, and immediately works out.

Willink’s idea is that somewhere, out there, there is an enemy, waiting to attack you.

Your best defense is to be up before the enemy rises so that you can be prepared and be the first one to attack.

Although hopefully, there is no one trying to kill you, this mindset can be useful when you want to wake up at 5 am to workout and make it a recurring habit that you can do over and over again.

The trick, then, is to develop for yourself an enemy that you can try to beat every morning and think about every night before going to bed.

This enemy could be someone who is currently more disciplined than you, or it could be those sides of your personality that you don’t appreciate and wish to suppress.

Regardless who you choose as your enemy, your objective is to beat him or her in the battle of the alarm clocks; you must get up before your enemy does so that you can get a tactical advantage, and win the day.

The art of aggressive thinking

Thinking in these aggressive terms will not only make it less likely that you will fail with your goal, but you will also develop a more unyielding and goal-oriented mindset because you concentrate all your forces on this one particular task.

Come up with an enemy.

A person, real or imaginary or a part of yourself, that you are going to beat.

Every. Single. Morning.

Combine this ruthless mindset with all the neurological and biological hacks that we discussed earlier, and there will be nothing that can get in your way of achieving your goals.

But just to make it even more airtight, you could use and start implementing the following two tactics into your overall plan so that you can eliminate errors, and make it 100 percent sure that you will accomplish your aims with your training and your workouts.

Use an app to wake up at 5 am to workout hard

A picture of a sleep time app
Photo by Rami Al-zayat

Previously, we discussed how not bringing your phone into your bedroom probably is a good idea.

That is still true.

In the beginning, it’s best to eliminate dopaminergic distractions and aim to use a standard alarm clock instead.

There is, however, another side to this argument that actually requires you to bring your phone with you.

And that is to enable you to use technology and the world of apps in the morning so that you can wake up at 5 am to workout and win the day.

The app is called Sleep Cycle.

What Sleep Cycle does is that the app uses sound and movement tracking devices to analyze which sleep stage you are currently in.

When you are in lightest sleep possible, the app will begin to wake you up with alarm pulses that slowly wake you up in 30 minutes – you can change this yourself, but the recommendation is 30 minutes.

What’s cool about this app is that it also tracks your progress and your sleep habits so that you can get a better grip of how well you sleep, and where, and help you understand how, you could improve your sleeping patterns.

So when you go to sleep, you set the alarm for when you need to be up, which in your case would be 5 am, and then the app calculates when it should begin the wake-up cycle so that you can wake up at 5 am and feel refreshed, and ready to start your training.

It is, however, a good idea to be cautious about bringing your phone back into your bedroom.

You could easily succumb to the lures of the highly satisfying apps like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook that will keep you awake, and ruing your chances of waking up before your enemy does.

So make sure you have kicked the worst parts of this addiction before you re-introduce it into your bedroom.

Once this is completed, you will reap amazing benefits from the world of technology, and sleep better, and be able to wake up at 5 am to workout, every day as a fully-developed habit.

There’s that, and then this ruthless way of thinking.

Refuse to fail in the morning (If you snooze, you fail the first thing you do)

A picture of a sleeping girl who needs the best alarm clock app to get you out of bed and wake up at 5 am to workout in the morning
Photo by Vladislav Muslakov

The last piece of advice when it comes to developing a strong mindset is a pure refusal.

When the alarm clock goes off, and you feel like snoozing, you refuse to fail the first thing you do in the morning.

You are determined to beat the enemy, and you refuse to allow yourself to start the day by failing your first assignment.

You resent the idea of sleeping in and disappointing yourself.

There is just no way you are going to allow yourself to sleep through your alarm.

Especially not after all the work you put into your Evening Routine, sleep cycles, and mindset training.

No!

There is just no way out but through.

So when the alarm clock goes off, and you feel like staying under the blanket in the warm and cozy bed, you think to yourself: I will not subject myself to the shame and embarrassment I will experience if I wake up at 7 am with no time, motivation or energy to train and develop an unrelenting workout habit.

Refuse. Get up. Do it anyway.

Even if you don’t feel like it.

Because you understand that the first five minutes are the hardest.

You just have to get out of bed, stand up, and awaken your body and show that you are the one in command.

Refuse to allow yourself to succumb to these temptations.

Beat the enemy by getting up at precisely the same time every morning, no matter what.

Or as the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations:

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Prepare yourself the night before by thinking about how you are going to feel when the alarm clock goes off.

Develop for yourself this ability, the refusal to snooze, and you will see how linear and unrelenting this habit really is.

Nothing can get in your way if you can be tactical with your Evening Routine, and merciless with your mornings.

The rush of hormones you will experience will make it easier, and more comfortable to get out of bed and wake up at 5 am to workout each time you succeed.

So begin today. Refuse to sleep in and choose to work out. See what happens.

You will shock yourself with how fast you will advance and be able to wake up at 5 am to workout and reach your goal.

And once you are up, you could apply these tricks to make sure you stay out of bed once you are awake.

Turn on the lights and face the water

how to wake up at 5am without feeling tired by washing your face with water and turn on a lamp
Photo by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti

As we discussed earlier, our sleep cycles are controlled by our environment, and to some extent by the light.

Especially the light from electronic devices and lamps.

So if you will find it harder to relax and fall asleep when the lights are on in your bedroom, this reveals something about how you can use these kinds of light when you want to wake up.

Immediately when you wake up, you want to reach for the lights and turn them on.

The mere irritation you will experience will spark a lot of thoughts that will keep you awake, apart from the actual lights that scream at you that it’s time to wake up because it’s 5 am, and you should begin your workout.

Then, as soon as possible, head to the bathroom and splash ice-cold water in your face.

Splashing ice-cold water in your face as soon as you wake up will work as mild electroshock applied to the sensory cortex, which will wake you up faster, and make it less likely that you will go back to sleep.

You could also drink a glass of ice-cold water.

Preferably from a bottle that you kept in your fridge during the night.

Now, it’s a myth and complete nonsense that you drink water to start your internal system and your intestines, like some pseudo-scientific infographic states.

Your body works just fine.

But it will kick into gear, and wake you up faster if you get some water in you, and if you expose your sensory system to some good old ice-cold H2O.

Combine these tactics with the “Beat The Enemy” strategy, and you will become unbeatable, and be able to wake up at 5 am to workout every single day for the rest of your life.

That, and this next crucial step of this entire process.

Hold yourself accountable – don’t let yourself down

Holding hands to show how to set a goal to wake up at 5 am
Photo by Alvin Mahmudov

The last thing that you want to do is to hold yourself accountable for your actions when you want to wake up at 5 am to workout.

All the tips and tricks in the world won’t save you if you can’t trust yourself, and hold yourself accountable.

For this reason, you want to make a promise to yourself that you will do everything in your power to complete these tasks, go to sleep on time and wake up at 5 am to workout, and actually do it.

There is a fantastic blog post by the marketing guru and author Seth Godin called “The world’s worst boss” where Godin outlines the most fantastic and thought-provoking idea:

“Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself.”

The whole concept revolved around responsibility and how you are your own boss, and that you need to develop a great relationship with yourself and how you set up and accomplish tasks during the day.

To do this, you need to negotiate with yourself so that you have an agreement on what needs to be done, that you feel like you can pull it off, and hold yourself accountable, too.

Here is how you do it.

How to negotiate with yourself to reach your goals

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The question you must ask yourself to begin this process is: why should I even do this?

And the answer to that must be that if you don’t do this, you are far worse off than if you actually accomplished this seemingly daunting task.

Because nothing gets better if you leave it alone, unattended.

So you aim to change yourself, your habits, body, and life.

And that’s a good thing.

You will feel much better once you commit to this change.

Now, you just have to figure out how you are going to do this, and where you should start so that it’s highly possible that you actually pull through, begin the process of moving toward your goal, and keep moving forward as you attempt to advance.

So you visualize a goal for yourself, and how it’s going to feel once you reach that goal.

It could be to lose weight, develop a habit or to gain muscle mass.

Then you negotiate with yourself whether or not the life you will have once you reach that goal will be worth living and if all the hurdles you must clear to get there will be worth it.

Once you are in agreement with yourself that all the hurdles you must clear will be worth it in the end, you must come up with some rules and that you won’t quit because you don’t feel like pushing the margin for a couple of days.

Wake up at 5 am to workout by having an agreement with yourself

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There must be consequences if you fail yourself and break the agreement because you don’t want to disappoint yourself because you will have to live with that betrayal for the rest of your life if you do.

So once you have reached an agreement on this, you want to find a good place to start.

A place where it’s not too easy so that you don’t make any significant advancements, but also not a place where it’s too hard for you to keep it up.

We are still talking about making changes, and we don’t like changes, so in order for you to change, you must subject yourself to at least some discomfort from which you can grow.

But not so much that it breaks you, and violates your agreement with yourself.

You are now developing trust as you go along; you can always increase the workload once you see the cart moving.

The goal is to make you feel better at the end of each day than you did at the beginning of that day.

That doesn’t mean that your day will start out poorly. It just means that you want to aim at becoming better, stronger, and able to trust yourself more at the end of each day so that you can take on more demanding challenges as you go along.

After you’ve spent some time thinking and negotiating, with yourself, a good place to start, you make sure you actually start when that day comes.

And you keep it up because you don’t want to let yourself down.

You don’t want to break the agreement.

And once you see that it’s actually working, you can schedule another meeting with yourself where you go over the plans once more and look for ways to increase the workload once you have built enough trust in your own abilities to see your plan through.

How to trust yourself to accomplish your goals

Here is where things become interesting.

And here is where you can start implementing all the tactics we previously discussed and actually balance everything on your shoulders.

Because you trust yourself, and you hold yourself accountable on the grounds that you have seen with your own two eyes and felt the warming sensation in your body that you actually came through on your own promises to wake up at 5 am to workout and become a stronger version of yourself.

But you can only do this if you negotiated with yourself, and you came up with a plan and a place to start on a hard enough level where you experience growth while not succumbing under the weight you put on your shoulders the first week of developing this habit.

Come up with a plan that you can stick to, and promise yourself that you will follow through.

How to hold yourself accountable with your fitness goals

A woman holding a coffee cup trying to find motivation to wake up at 5 am to workout and get in shape
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Hold yourself accountable, and do what you said you would do so that you can trust yourself, and believe in yourself so that you can increase the workload and become better, stronger, and more trusting at the end of each day.

Going over this cycle of negotiating with yourself is one of the most important psychological exercises you could ever do because not only are you coming up with realistic and scalable plans, you are also making a promise to yourself to stick to that plan, and change yourself and your life by doing so.

Being able to trust yourself, and accomplish what you set out to do is the cornerstone of completing anything in life because if you can’t trust yourself enough and know that you will complete your tasks, then you will continually disappoint yourself and ultimately stop dreaming and not set up any new goals.

Be careful when you negotiate with yourself on your own behalf because if done correctly, you will develop the most honest and sturdy friendship you could ever dream of, but if you don’t, the price you pay might be so high that you will never want to play the game of goal setting ever again.

So commit to a goal.

Find a realistic starting point and hold yourself accountable for your actions and nothing will ever be able to get in your way because the trust you have developed will disarm all forms of criticism, obstacles, and hardships you will face on your way toward a better, stronger you.

Negotiate with yourself to get where you need to go.

That’s how you get things done.

There is, however, one final thing you must commit to when you want to accomplish your aims in life, and that is the following:

Reward yourself afterward

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Holding yourself accountable, trusting yourself, and doing what you promised yourself you would do is a hard enough task as it is.

A task that takes a lot of courage, discipline and focus to accomplish.

And if that wasn’t enough, there is one more thing you must master and make sure it recurs in the cycle of negotiation, promising, and doing – that thing is to reward yourself.

A lot of people are too hard on themselves.

They put up the goals they want to reach, and they work as hard as they can to reach them.

When they do reach them, however, they immediately sail for another destination, another goal, without taking five minutes to reward themselves for what they have done.

Two questions probably arose in your head: why reward yourself and what kind of reward are we talking about?

The reason you want to reward yourself is so that you can deepen the trust and the relationship you have with yourself.

When you put up a goal when you set out to accomplish something out of the ordinary, you negotiate a deal with yourself.

The moment you accomplish your goal, you have made a deposit.

You filled up your psychological trust account on the goal-reaching side.

However, now the side where you want to be rewarded for reaching your goal and coming through on your promise has yet seen its deposit.

For this reason, you want to get in the habit of rewarding yourself every time you set up a goal, negotiate a deal, and accomplish your aims.

This tactic has two benefits.

The benefits of the plan to wake up at 5 am to workout

A woman holding up a calendar that shows how and when to begin to wake up at 5 am to workout so that you can get in shape
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One is that your self-confidence grows because you see with your own two eyes that you are accomplishing what you set out to do, which boots your trust in your abilities and inner strengths.

Second is that you begin to trust yourself when it comes to getting something more than the pleasure of completing a task out of your goal setting and task completing behaviors.

There is a cycle here:

  1. Set a goal by negotiating with yourself and agreeing upon a plan to reach that goal.
  2. Reach your goal and your trust in yourself to accomplish your aims grows, which makes you brave enough to take on more demanding challenges in the future.
  3. Reward yourself for completing the tasks you create for yourself so that you feel appreciated for doing what you said you would, which solidifies the entire process and makes you bolder and more daring the next time you come up with a plan, a goal, or a dream you wish to see come alive.

The point of each step is to deepen and thicken your abilities to trust yourself when it comes to reaching the goals you create for yourself.

Because not only will you begin to crave the pleasures you get out of your rewards, you will also start to experience great satisfaction in coming up with and reaching more and more difficult and life-altering goals.

All of this will result in tremendous personal growth, an unyielding mindset, and a belief in your own abilities that nothing can change or somehow permanently weaken.

You will become the best, strongest, and most successful version of yourself each time you run through this cycle.

But how should you reward yourself, exactly?

How to reward yourself after you’ve reached your goal

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The way to reward yourself is a purely subjective experience.

For some people, it’s food.

Perhaps you have cravings for ice cream.

Maybe you want to eat a juicy steak, a triple cheese pizza or have a glass of wine or two.

Maybe your reward of choice is to watch two hours of YouTube when you have been strict with the amount of time you waste during a day.

Or perhaps your reward is going to an amusement park.

There are no rights or wrongs here.

Whatever works for you, and whatever makes you happy, fulfilled, and joyful is the direction in which you go.

A common reward among people who wake up at 5 am to workout, train hard, and eat clean is to allow themselves to have 12 hours a week where they can eat whatever they want.

If you, however, have a tendency to eat way too much, perhaps 60 minutes would be enough for you.

Play around with these ideas.

Think of what you are longing for the most, and make that thing your reward after you’ve reached your goal.

You should not, however, reward yourself daily.

Then it stops being a reward and turns into a bad habit, and an addiction.

The point of rewarding yourself is to postpone the gratification of the reward until you have done the work, reached your goal, and showed yourself that you can trust yourself when it comes to hard work and by staying committed to the task at hand.

Plus, the reward will become so much sweeter, taste so much better, and fill you with so much more joy if you postpone it, even schedule it so that you can build up some anticipation rather than if you would allow yourself to eat a pizza every time you took a walk around the block.

Get in the habit of setting up a goal, reaching that goal, and reward yourself for doing so.

That will put you at a psychological advantage the next time you want to create a goal that has the potential to change your life, your body, and your mind.

A rewarding strategy after you wake up at 5 am to workout every morning

How to set up a reward system for yourself with cheat meals
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Another thing you can do to make it even more exciting is to come up with the proper reward right from the start so that you know what is waiting for you at the end of the tunnel.

This thinking will only make it more likely that you will reach your goal because you want what is waiting for you at the end.

But don’t dwell on this for too long.

You want to celebrate ephemerally and get back to work immediately so that you can start over with a new, and more demanding goal so that you can reach new levels and become even stronger than you were.

The best way to not fall off the wagon is to plan.

Plan, plan, plan.

Schedule everything down to the day, duration, and when it should end.

Surely, you will not be able to follow your schedule 100 percent.

What the schedule will do, however, is to give you a sense of direction, a chessboard on which you can move around your pieces and quickly re-strategize to always be one step ahead.

Plan out as much as you can in the beginning, so you know what pieces to move and re-organize when the situation calls for such actions.

That will keep you calm and calculating so that you don’t lose sight of your goal, your reward, and get lost in the process.

You are your own boss – your job is to create for yourself a goal, and a reward for reaching that goal.

No one is going to do it for you, which only makes it even more exciting.

Reward yourself when you have reached your goal.

This habit will come to be one of the most essential habits you can ever develop.

Especially when your goal is to wake up at 5 am to workout and create for yourself a life-long habit that you can be proud of having created.

Allow time to work its magic – the first week is the hardest

A picture of a clock that symbolizes the time it takes to be able to wake up at 5 am in the morning
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Finally, you want to be patient.

When we are trying to develop new habits, we must allow time to work its magic.

Habits are by their very nature something that gets built through repetition, and repetition takes time.

We are often too quick to give up or think that we have failed when we haven’t reached our goal yet.

A way of thinking that only becomes more common as we age in the world of instant gratifications, social media, and technology that is built for speed.

Our brains haven’t evolved much since the dawn of time, and for that very reason, we must be patient when it comes to forming new habits.

Because the formation of habits is a neurological process that takes time and demands from us an enormous amount of patience because our brains have to create new neurological pathways through which impulses that make our behaviors habitual will travel.

Therefore, we must develop for ourselves a relentless trust in the process; if we just keep at it, a habit will emerge.

To wake up at 5 am to workout is a hard enough task as it is.

We can’t really take on the burden of it not becoming something automatic.

The truth about being an early bird

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The truth is: it’s never going to be automatic, but it will become easier the more we do it.

Our bodies are masters at adapting to the environment. We are the result of the brush strokes of evolution, we have been perfected through millions of years.

We are built to adapt.

So it would be a historical, biological and evolutionary deviation if we didn’t adapt to these new changes where we want to be able to wake up at 5 am to workout and turn it into an unyielding habit.

Especially since waking up early is something that fits our biological makeup perfectly.

Basically, you are hardwired to wake up at 5 am to workout.

So for this reason, we must be patient when it comes to turning morning workouts into a habit because it takes time for us to create the neurological pathways required to turn this goal into a habit.

Even though this might seem like a demotivating truth to hear, there is, however, an upside to this process that you will experience every single day you commit to this task and wake up at 5 am to workout.

Each time you wake up when the alarm goes off, and each time you get a morning workout in, you will become better at it.

A lot better at it.

Every morning you begin anew, you do so with the skills you acquired yesterday.

Each time you wake up, you are a little better at waking up and working out in the morning than you were yesterday.

The next day, all your new skills and lessons will solidify in your brain, and the new percentages will end up on top of the other percentages, making you a lot better at waking up early every single day.

Here is the math:

If you are 5 percent there, and you up your skills with 40 percent within that space, you add 40 percent on top of your 5 percent.

That leaves you at 7 percent the next day.

On the following day, you will be at 9,8 percent, and the next morning, you will be at 13,72 percent.

For each passing day, you will become better and better at it.

And this cycle of returns will probably only increase as your skills and experiences keep piling up.

So the percentages are most likely increasing each day you wake up early and go through the routines.

That is why you need to develop unyielding patience because that will take you where you need to go.

Because if you add 40 percent to 66 percent overall skills, that will leave you with 92,4.

The jump gets bigger and bigger, so stay in there.

If you understand the neuroscience behind learning and skill-acquisition, you will remain calm because you know that what you are doing will eventually work; you trust the process because you understand where it will take you.

Finally – How to wake up at 5 am to workout: all things combined

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Get as informed as you possibly can.

Read and listen to as much information you can get your hands on, and optimize your routines and habits that will enable you to get a workout in every single morning.

The more you know about the process, the neurochemistry, and what makes you tick (what will work for you regarding habits and routines), the easier it will become to reach your goal.

It will not be easy, but if you can avoid unnecessary mistakes and bumps in the road, all the better because you don’t want to rush the process, but you don’t want to be slowed down either.

Pick and choose from all of these tips and tricks and put together the perfect schedule for you.

Every person is unique.

Your needs differ from mine.

So devise for yourself a personal plan that fits your needs, wants, and desires so that you, too, can reach your goals so that you can reward yourself and take on more demanding and rewarding challenges in the future.

Hopefully, you are already on your way there.

The Ending — How to wake up at 5 am to workout

A woman going on a run to use all scientific benefits of waking up early
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When you want to wake up at 5 am to workout, develop a strong habit and reach your goal, there is more than a mere feeling that needs to be in place.

You must develop for yourself a system that you can both trust, and use every single day to generate the results you are after.

This is not going to be easy.

But you don’t have to make it extra hard, either.

Try some of these tactics, see what works, and fool around with them a bit.

Perhaps you will reach your goal faster than you think?