Feel guilty when you skip the gym? Here’s a quick (and effective) morning workout routine to do at home.
Lots of people struggle to work out consistently, including me.
After years of pounding weights, working with the smartest people in the fitness industry, and training with some of the top athletes in the world, I flat-out burned out.
I went through a period of a year or so where I didn’t even want to see a dumbbell, much less pick one up. A couple years ago I even wrote an article about this experience: I’m A Recovering Fitness Junkie.
Since then, I’ve learned how to balance my health and fitness with the rest of my life.
I still train in the gym maybe twice per week (when I have a gym available, that is). But the rest of the time I’m either doing something active outside or I’m doing a quick workout in the morning.
Like the one below.
Be Consistent With The 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine
When it comes to exercise, consistency is key. I’ve read enough research and worked with enough people to know that three “average” workouts are often better than one “amazing” workout. (And one crappy workout is better than no workout.)
That’s why I’ve recently adopted what I’m calling the 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine. Here’s what it looks like:
- 30 seconds of exercise
- 30 seconds of stretching or rest
- 30 minutes, total
Stupidly easy. Stupidly effective.
Now, let me be clear: This is not a muscle-building program. It’s not a fat-loss program. It’s not a rehabilitation program that will help you “fix” your muscle imbalances.
Instead, the purpose of the 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine is simple: It will help you stay consistent with exercise.
And for 99% of people—especially the recovering fitness junkies among us—that’s exactly what we need right now.
3 Reasons Why The 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine Will Help You Stay Consistent
- It removes most barriers (and excuses): You don’t have to work up the motivation to drive to the gym, go through your warm-ups, and spend an hour training. Instead, this is something you can do right after you roll out of bed.
- You don’t need any equipment. Of course, if you have some dumbbells or gymnastic rings lying around you can feel free to use them. But most often I do a bodyweight version of the 3 x 30 Workout. (Sample exercises below.)
- It’s fun. In order to become a lifelong habit, I believe exercise should be fun and make us feel good. Sure, there are times when we’ll need to get uncomfortable in order to make progress. (Like doing another set of Bulgarian Split Squats.) But if your workouts repeatedly crush you, you will burn out physically and mentally. I’ve seen it happen to more people than I can count. The 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine is fun because it’s the exact opposite of what most hardcore workouts look like.
Who The 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine Is For
Former fitness junkies who need to transition into a more sustainable life-long routine. If you spent a period of 2-5 years (or more) being super-focused on your workouts, nutrition, and health—especially if your focus was at times detrimental to the other parts of your life—then the 3 x 30 Workout will be a much-needed reset button.
People who need to increase their flexibility. When’s the last time you spent 15 minutes stretching? Yeah, I thought so.
Who The 3 x 30 Workout Is NOT For
Complete beginners. If you don’t know how to structure a basic workout program that won’t hurt you, then I don’t recommend doing this.
People with injuries that require a professional to help them fix. If you think your back hurts because you sit too much and don’t stretch, then you’re fine to do the 3 x 30 Workout. However, if your back hurts because you herniated a disc while deadlifting, then I don’t recommend doing this. Hire a local coach to help you get back on track.
How To Do The 3 x 30 Workout: A Few Details
Step 1: Download a free split timer to your phone. I use the Simple Interval Timer (free).
Step 2: Before you start, take out a piece of paper and write down 5 exercises that sound like fun and complement each other. In other words, don’t make your entire workout a series of push-ups. Throw in movements in multiple planes, use your whole body, and don’t forget single-limb stuff.
Step 3: Pick an exercise, start a timer, and do it with good form until the 30 seconds are over. There’s no need to go to failure or try to fit in as many reps as possible. Do enough to feel it but not enough to force it.
Step 4: After the timer goes off, transition into a 30-second stretch. Pick a handful of stretches and rotate through them over the duration of the workout (I mostly focus on my hips and lats). When you’re stretching, try to follow your breath. Don’t try to breathe in any certain way; just let it come and go naturally. This has a calming, meditative effect.
Step 5: Go back and forth between an exercise and a stretch until the 30 minutes are up.
Step 6: Do the 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine whenever you’d otherwise skip a workout. Personally, I do it once or twice per week.
A Sample 3 x 30 Morning Workout Routine
Remember, this isn’t a highly structured or scientific workout. Instead, it’s designed to help you stay consistent and make you feel good that you did something instead of skipping a workout altogether.
Of course, I encourage you to make up your own workout. But just so you can get an idea of how I did it, here’s one I followed recently.
- Neutral-grip chin-up
- Towel hip-extension leg curl
- Forward and backward crawl
- Couch hip-flexor stretch
- Couch piriformis stretch
- Hanging lat stretch
30 seconds On, 30 seconds Off
(On) Neutral-grip chin-up
(Off) Couch hip-flexor stretch, left side
(On) Towel hip-extension leg curl
(Off) Couch hip-flexor stretch, right side
(On) Forward and backward crawl
(Off) Couch piriformis stretch, left side
(On) Side lunge
(Off) Couch piriformis stretch, right side
(Off) Hanging lat stretch
Repeat until the 30 minutes are up.
Don’t skip your workout. Scale it back.
Most people have trouble sticking to healthy habits because they think they always have to be perfect. But that’s just an excuse.
Whether you want to exercise consistently, start meditating, or make any other change in your life, success often comes down to consistently following a stupidly-simple process.
In other words, one minute of meditation is better than zero minutes. And one 30-minute morning workout per week is better than no workouts per week.
Oh, and one more thing…
Just because I don’t hit the gym quite like I used to doesn’t mean I’m going soft. I recently had the opportunity to play around at the Vigor gym in Ljubljana, Slovenia. (Check out the video below.)
I may be a recovering fitness junkie…but I’m still a sucker for badass gyms, heavy weights, and clouds of chalk.