If you’re struggling to find the time to train during the festive season, a short morning workout could be just as effective as long ones…

By Lucy Miller

If you’re a night owl, then we’re not here to rain on your parade, but with Christmas just around the corner – plus parties, social events and work deadlines to add to the mix – clocking your usual evening gym session could start to prove a little tricky.

The good news is that a short morning workout could be key to keeping fit during this busy time of year. These fast and effective morning sessions will not only wake you up but also give you great results in a short period of time, meaning you don’t need to set your alarm for the crack of dawn! Plus, you can easily do them in your home.

Short on time? Try EMOM

‘EMOM, or Every Minute On the Minute, is a great way to get your heart rate up quickly and effectively, simply because it controls your work-to-rest ratio,’ explains Chloe Trigg, head of strength and conditioning at BLOK.

‘It’s definitely one of my favourite ways to train when I’m short on time, kit and space.’ To do it, choose six exercises– ideally, compound moves (those that use multiple muscle groups) such as lunges, triceps dips, squat jumps, press-ups and burpees.

Set a timer for 60 seconds and perform the first exercise for 10 reps, then rest for the remainder of that minute. Start the timer again and do another 10 reps of a new exercise, then rest for the duration of that minute.

Repeat this sequence for all exercises, aiming to do around 15 minutes in total. ‘The goal is to really push yourself because, the quicker you do each set of reps, the more time you get to rest,’ adds Trigg.

Several workouts can be easily replicated from the comfort of your own home.

Try a morning Bootcamp session at home

‘You may relate morning workouts to military-style bootcamps, which are super effective for fat loss but can leave you feeling cold and longing for your duvet, so why not do one from the comfort of your own home?’ suggests Nathan Honess, PT and Bio-Synergy ambassador.

‘My suggestion is to pick six to eight full-body exercises – such as running on the spot, squats, press-ups, starjumps and sit-up to punch – then perform each for 60 seconds with 10 seconds of rest. Rest for 60 seconds between circuits, completing another two rounds.’

Add strength and metabolic training to your morning

‘Don’t forget to add strength training and metabolic training to your morning,’ says Aimee Victoria Long, PT and founder of the Body Beautiful Method. ‘The idea here is to build lean muscle tissue through intense exercise intervals, which will increase the efficiency of your body’s metabolism so you’ll burn more calories, even at rest.

‘To build and burn, simply grab some light dumbbells or kettlebells and perform eight exercises for 30 seconds each. Take 15 seconds of rest in between each exercise. The key is to work at your maximum intensity for those 30 seconds, so the last five-to-six seconds are super hard. At the end of all eight exercises, rest for two minutes and then repeat for three rounds in total.’

Your sofa is the perfect prop for a variety of exercises, including squats, tricep dips and glute bridges!

Use your sofa for a morning workout

‘Who needs kit when you have a sofa?’ says Jenny Pacey, Hollywood trainer, sports scientist and international athlete.

‘Using your sofa as a prop, perform 30 seconds of squats (so your bottom hits the sofa), 30 seconds of sofa triceps dips, 30 seconds of sofa split squats (with your back leg up), 30 seconds of glute bridges (with your feet on the sofa) and 30 seconds of plank shoulder taps (again, with your feet on the sofa). Complete four rounds.

‘When you use your surroundings to get your workout done first thing, nothing can get in your way,’ adds Pacey. ‘You don’t need to worry about all those extra meetings, long lunches, traffic jams or schedule changes that often disrupt your workouts.’

Just woken up? Try an AMRAP workout

‘AMRAP [or As ManyRounds As Possible] workouts are typical for Cross Fit training, plus they’re great at waking up the body and mind over a short space of time,’ says Aimee Cringle, Cross Fit athlete.

‘To do this workout, set your timer for 20 minutes and then perform 10 burpees, 20 press-ups, 30 jumping lunges and 50 skips, either using a skipping rope or an invisible rope. Your aim is to do as many rounds as you can in the 20 minutes, taking as much rest as you need after each round.

‘This style of working out is great because you work to your own level of intensity and work capacity, so you can push the pace no matter what your level of ability. The aim is to beat the number of rounds completed with each workout,’ adds Cringle.

AMRAP workouts are great at waking up the body and mind over a short space of time.

Try a pyramid workout first thing in the morning

A pyramid workout is a simple yet very effective method because each set gets progressively more intense as you increase the amount of repetitions. You’ll also be amazed by how many reps you perform in just one workout when you train this way.

‘To do it, choose six exercises such as a squat jump, lunge, shoulder press, mountain climber, sit-up or curtsy lunge. Do the six exercises in order, starting with one rep of each. Rest, then start again, performing two reps of each,’ says UshLad, female fitness coach.

Increase the number of reps with each round – three, four, five – until you get to 10. If you have time, go back to one repetition.

Start your morning with a workout you love

Lastly, Joe Wicks, The Body Coach suggests you do what you love. ‘Whether that be a 25-minute HIIT using 25 different exercises or a run around the park in nature, morning workouts are transformative for your mental health and how you feel about your day,’ says Wicks.

‘Take on the morning challenge and you’re guaranteed to feel happier, more patient and calmer in all aspects of life.’

Click here for a short at-home workout, perfect for trying out first thing in the morning!