It’s a common refrain you’ll hear from countless personal trainers: “The best workout you can do is the one you actually do.” In other words, any fitness is better than no fitness at all, and if your schedule only permits you to squeeze in your sweat sessions in the evenings, over your lunch break, or even at your desk while you’re toiling away on deadline, that’s fine—it’s the best you can do. But if you’ve got more flexibility, there’s a mountain of evidence suggesting that you should move your exercise routine to the morning.
Sure, you’ll likely have less distractions, you’ll feel more energized all day long, and you’ll start your day on a positive note with the single best stress relief method one can do this side of Tibet, but starting your day with exercise will have a cascading effect on your health throughout your day—and will even prime your brain to make better decisions. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, participants who stuck to 30-minute workouts in the mornings made healthier lifestyle and food choices throughout their day. Another study, published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, found that working out in the morning was best for regulating your blood sugar and protecting your body from diabetes.
As an added benefit, if you move your workout to the morning—and choose the right morning exercise (more on that below)—you’ll start your day burning fat by igniting your body’s stress response, and you’ll have the added benefit of burning that fat all day long. A study published in journal EBioMedicine tracked the exercise habits of male participants who worked out at varying times of the day, and the researchers discovered that the 24-hour fat burn—or “fat oxidation”—was highest among the ones who did their exercise before breakfast.
So what’s a great workout you can do quickly, simply, and easily when you wake up in the morning? “If people are looking to improve performance in the most time-effective way, and if they’re looking to improve health in the most time effective way, then I think incorporating interval training is a very good strategy,” says Martin Gibala, Ph.D., Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and the world’s foremost expert on the science of high-intensity interval training—short bursts of rigorous, rapid-fire exercise.
Robert Herbst, a personal trainer, weight loss expert, and 19-time world champion powerlifter who supervised the drug testing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and will have a similar role in Tokyo this year, agrees. “A vigorous workout early in the day can cause you to burn fat during the day by raising your metabolism,” says Herbst. “Especially if it causes an oxygen debt such as high intensity interval training (HIIT).”
With that in mind, we’ve provided below an excellent 10-minute workout that is guaranteed to ignite your body’s stress response, get you sweatin’ hard and feeling the endorphin rush, elevate your body’s fat-burning machinery, and keep it high all day long. So read on, and give it a try! And to give your fat-burning efforts a much-needed assist throughout the day, try your hand at these Sneaky Weight Loss Tricks That Totally Work, According to Science.
You’ll then do a circuit of the following exercises for 30 seconds each—as many as you can perform. Break for ten to 30 seconds for rest after each circuit, depending on your fitness level.
Place your hands behind your head, interlacing your fingers. Stand with your feet shoulder width and your toes turned slightly outward. Squat as low as you can. (Ed note: If you’re in better shape, you can increase the intensity of this workout by substituting Burpees for prisoner squats.)
Perform a jumping jack, reaching your arms out 90 degrees to your sides as your legs spread. When you jump you legs back in, clap your hands in front of you.
Place your hands on the floor at shoulder width. Keeping your abs braced and your body in a straight line, squeeze your shoulder blades together and lower your body until your chest is an inch above the floor. (Ed note: If 30 seconds of pushups is too many, just do 5 to 10.)
Jump to your right side and land on your right foot. Rebound off your right foot and jump back to your left to begin the next rep. For more great workouts, try one of these 30 Amazing 30-Second Moves!