Health Week: The Best Morning Exercise Routine

This post kicks off a week of writing about health. The article about the title is below, but I wanted to share a few things with you first. Right away I am going to tell you that besides having a large health library, many years spent training myself, and an expired AFAA personal training certificate, I can not proclaim to be a health expert. Here is my short list of credentials.

  • Knowledge base includes general & specific topics such as health, wellness, nutrition, exercise, sports training, weight training, martial arts, yoga, Pilate’s, eastern & western medicine, fasting, diet, supplements, vitamins, natural & organic food, disease, massage, chiropractic, herbal medicine, mind-body connection, and just about everything else.
  • Practice base includes most of the same, including but not limited to, martial arts, weight training, race training, fasting, cleansing, meal planning, personal training, developing exercise programs, and developing diets for people.

As you can see I am well versed in just about everything regarding health. Why am I not an expert? I have very few classes and no degree in any of the above. I am not a practicing professional in anything mentioned above. Any advice I share is with friends and family, and random people who ask me what I know.

The only way I am an expert is by discussing what I have practiced in my own life and then telling you what has worked for me and what hasn’t worked for me.

I mention all of the above because health can be a touchy subject. Health advice is taken seriously because many times it means the difference between life and death. All other concerns come to a halt when death is looming.

Death is the one inevitable fact we all live with. Practicing good health helps us to pratice living a good life. Without our health we don’t have much else. Maximum health is what helps us acheive the maximum we are capable of in this lifetime. Health is the foundation we build the rest of our personal development program on. I can talk about this subject for a long time, but in an effort to keep it as simple as possible, let’s proceed to the first article for this week’s series.

The Best Morning Exercise Routine Ever.

Why is this the best? Because it is simple and doesn’t require anything besides your own body. Most importantly, it is something you can start today.

This is a simple list of 5 exercises and 5 stretches. It is recommended to work up to your maximum amount of repetitions. Whatever amount of repetitions you can do, do them in sets of 3. This is not meant to be a full workout program but it is a nice way to start your day!

Exercises

  1. Full body squats. You do these by standing with your legs shoulder length apart. Put your arms in front of you. Slowly lower yourself to a position where your thighs are parellel to the ground. Then spring up fast and reach for the sky. (Caution: You might throw yourself off balance the first couple of times. These will definitely help improve your balance. Work up to about 20 per set. Start with 5-10.)
  2. Push-Ups. Form is important here. Keep your legs and body straight. No butt in the air! Look straight ahead and not at the ground. Slowly go down and come up fast. If you need to, put your knees on the ground, but still keep your body straight and your head looking forward. Work up to 20 per set. Start with 5-10.
  3. Crunches. I prefer crunches to sit-ups because people can do them more easily and they don’t put the same strain on your back. Lay on your back with your knees bent. (Caution: Do not lock your hands behind your head. Put them to the side of your head or on your chest.) Crunch quickly. Go back down slowly. People often can do more crunches per set. Work up to 30 per set. Start with 10-15.
  4. Horizontal Pull-Ups. I understand not everyone can do regular pull-ups for lack of ability or a good thing to pull up on. This makes them optional, but still something to add to the mix later. The key here is that after working your leg, arm, chest, and core muscles with the previous exercises, you really only have back muscles left. So I have made a modified pull-up that is horizontal. Simply find something that is relatively heavy. Something like that encyclopedia you never use. Lay down on your bed or couch and reach over the side. Grab the object and pull it toward you quickly and let it down slowly. A couch may be better because the armrest helps you get higher off the ground. While it may seem rather crude, it is a good way to get a back exercise in. It also works your biceps a lot too. The repetitions you do will vary depending on what you use, but I would say start at 10 and go up from there.
  5. Jumping Jacks. After doing the above exercises, jumping jacks are a good way to engage muscles all over your body. Start with your legs together and your hands at your side. Jump to a position where your legs are spread about 3 feet apart and your hands clap over your head. These are relatively easy so you should start at 20 and work up to about 50.

Do these 5 exercises one right after the other with no rest. Take a short rest (1 minute or less), and then continue with your other two sets. After all three sets are down proceed to stretching.

Stretches

It is good to do stetches after you exercise because you will be warmed up and will be able to stretch further and with more ease. This will help you get the most out of your stretches.

  1. Twists. I like to start out with twists. These mainly help to stretch your core. Just put your arms in the air like you are going to box. Then twist to one side and to the other. Keep doing this for about a minute. Work up to punching at the end of your twist.
  2. Side Stretches. These are another favorite of mine. Put one hand on your hip and put one hand in the air reaching across your head toward the side you are stretching toward. Work up to leaning over as far as you can.
  3. Feet Reach. Sit down on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Slide your hands down your legs as far as they can go. Work up to touching your feet. You can also add a stretch for each individual foot. Just spread your legs and reach toward one foot at a time.
  4. Hammies and Quads. Ok, this can be considered two stretches as well. First, while lying on your back on the floor, bend one of your knees towards your head, and grab your leg with both arms. Pull it toward you to stretch the hamstring. Switch to the other leg. Stand Up. Put one hand against the wall and grab your ankle with your other hand. Pull your leg toward your butt. Switch. Work up to doing these twice and holding them for at least 30 seconds each. Doing each stretch once for 20 seconds is a good start.
  5. Arm Stretch. Grab your arms by the wrist behind your head. First pull one arm to your left side, then pull the other arm to your right side. Work up to stretching as far and as long as you can.

Hooray! You are well on your way to having a rockstar body! ;-) This is a full body workout and if you do it everyday you will feel better and have a leaner body in no time.

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Comments

  1. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says:

    I’ve always found that exercise first thing in the morning wipes me out for the rest of the day. I prefer to take my time waking up (at 7am) and not actually getting active until about 11am. If I do anything physical before then, but noon I’m a total wreck and if I try to keep at it I just end up doing myself damage (ie, constant achy-ness, tiredness).

    Anyone else experience this?

  2. Squats, pull ups and push ups – three exercises I do regularly – and because they all give you a real bang for your buck. They hit so many muscles, you really can get so much done with just these three. Another one I really like is the deadlift. Great stuff Jeremy!

  3. I love it! Great info, I am more of a morning person myself. I understand what Alex is talking about though, I dont like to feel rushed, when I am up around 7 I like to get started around 8, but after that I am going to rest of the day strong.

    My friend an I have been doing the P90X workout recently and are, for lack of better terms, getting jacked! lol

    Anyways, great stuff, have an awesome day!

    Joe Malinowski’s last blog post..Don’t Step in S#@%

  4. @ Alex – I never considered that. I know a lot of people like to get up and go straight to work. Not me. I like to have about 2 hours before I go to work. I eat a good breakfast, workout, take a shower, check emails. Not that I can’t get ready quickly, I just like my morning routine. At the very least I recommend trying some sort of brief workout for about 10-15 minutes including stretching. This really helps you loosen up, get the blood flowing, and starting your day off right. But I also have to admit that everyone’s body works differently. This could make a good after work exercise too! ;-)

    @ Joe – I am glad you enjoyed it. I have heard of the P90x workout but never tried it. I am mostly over trying new workouts because they are mostly the same thing I learned years ago from Arnold and they are simply rehashed. ;-) The most recent one I have liked is the CrossFit program. But its only for people that are highly trained and know when to stop when they injure themselves. Or should I say before they injure themselves. The workout routine I gave is mostly directed toward beginners. Although its a great thing for anyone to do.

    @ Lance – Deadlifts are great, but they must be done correctly because they have a higher risk of injury. I wouldn’t perform a deadlift without someone knowledgeable to help. The only injury I have ever received in a workout was a shoulder injury doing overhead dumbbell presses. I even had a spotter! Too much weight and an old wrestling injury were to blame. I can’t stress enough the need to go slow and to be smart. Again, these exercises I outlined are mostly just using your own body weight and are for beginners and those that want a great maintenance program. If you have been training for awhile AND on a regular basis this set of exercises may not be enough for you. Thanks for commenting Lance!

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  5. Jeremy,

    This is an awesome routine you’ve developed here! I’ve been wanting to incorporate exercises just like this into my routine forever, but I’ve always made the excuse that I don’t have a set of weights at home. You’ve obviously put that issue to rest by suggesting exercises that require no weights at all.

    My current routine is to wake up, drink 3 glasses of water, head to the gym, and then do 30 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) 4-5 times a week. I think I’m going to do this workout in the afternoon to complement my cardio exercise in the morning. That way I’m working out my muscles also, AND developing my flexibility.

    Thanks for this awesome article!

    Rahul’s last blog post..How to Deal with Criticism

  6. Hi Rahul,

    I have given a couple people this routine and they have all gotten good results of it. Let me know how it works for you!

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  7. I nominate zhan zhuang as the best morning exercise. Tai Chi is not bad either.

    Chris | Martial Development’s last blog post..Reconciling Violence and Compassion

  8. Ethan Bramantyo says:

    I like your list. In fact, I put crunch & body squats to my morning routine, because of your article. Still trying to make it a habit though (I’m not a morning person).
    Still kind of hard to squezze the routine to my morning schedule (I have to leave early, around 6.30, or else I’ll stuck in the traffic).
    I compensate it with doing indoor football (futsal), once a week (usually held in the evening). Thanks

    Ethan

  9. I really like you exercise! I have been looking for something simple I can do at home. Here’s something that could help others. I have terrible knees, so for me to do jumping jacks really hurts. However if you do the jumping jacks on an exercise trampoline it becomes a very low impact workout for your joints! Hope you all enjoy!

  10. Well the easiest way is to get a really loud annoying alarm clock (if you don’t already have one) and put it across the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Don’t let yourself think “hmm, maybe I’ll just lay down for a few more minutes…” go right from the clock to the kitchen and grab a drink, maybe a piece of fruit. If you keep moving, you’ll get the blood flowing and in a few minutes, you’ll be wide awake.

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