Since the beginning of our lives, the human body has loved routine. Ask any parent and they will tell you babies tend to be much better natured when on a schedule, or any professional athlete and why they stick to meticulous sleeping and eating patterns.
Step One: know your chronotype
Take the following mini quiz written by Amy Ashmore of the American Council on Exercise. This will help you recognize your chronotype, or natural sleep-wake cycle and how knowing this can help you to establish an effective routine that maximizes your training.
Add your scores together to get your total and compare your score with the table below to identify your chronotype. Your chronotype suggests your best time of day to train where overall fitness and pleasure are your primary goals.
This may have just affirmed something you already knew or suspected about yourself, as in yeah this is for sure why I need that morning cup of coffee, or why you get a boost of energy in the evening time that makes you feel like you could take on the world. On to the next step!
STEP TWO: routinize strategically
With your chronotype in mind establish a set time for working out especially if you are training for performance or simply want to maximize your time and how you feel in the gym.
Here's why. With repetition our muscles can actually start to anticipate an upcoming workout based on the time of day. Within each of your 600 muscles, there is a little biological clock, each of which are paying close attention to your eating and sleeping patterns.
When your muscles get accustomed to a time of day for training, they will start to make little molecular adjustments in anticipation for training, kind of like your own little muscular NASCAR crew, thereby enhancing your performance during the workout¹. Fascinating!
Step Three: Take action
Knowing what we do about this little science based fact, in order to feel better consistently, we must establish routine. Therefore, find what works for you. Don’t force a workout in the morning if it doesn't fit your chronotype. Try changing it up and working out in the evening instead.
The same holds true for the opposite, maybe your optimal time is in the morning and it’s time to stop hitting snooze until it’s time to get ready for work. All changes will require some sort of sacrifice, hence the next step.
Now the big kicker, in order for this work, you actually have to do it. Weird, right?
Step Four: Make it automatic
Now it's time to think in terms of taking ownership in yourself and reprogram your mindset. Make small changes to your day to enact the big ones. Find the routine that works for you and stick to it!
Stay on the grind by writing your goals (check out this free goal setting calendar, the Synergy Scheduler), sprinkling small notes around, enlisting the accountability of someone else, little rewards.
"Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions, your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values, your values become your destiny." - Gandhi
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1 Schroder, E. A., & Esser, K. A. (2013, October). Circadian Rhythms, skeletal muscle molecular clocks and exercise. Retrieved July 23, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866019/