You probably can’t. So I’ll show you one.
#upearlytotrain is a hashtag I started almost two years ago, but it wasn’t to pat myself on the back. It was to keep myself accountable, plain and simple. Like everyone, I need to be answerable to someone in order to progress toward the goal I’m constantly chasing. The first time I used it, it went out to about 20,000 people who were following me on Twitter. And as of publication, I’d be insulting 290,458 of my peers if I didn’t stick to my word. That’s just not my style.
That’s why #upearlytotrain is so important to me. Right off the bat, my mindset is all about getting a jump on the world every single day. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but life is short. There’s only so much time available to you before you’re gone. But if you can get up and train all-out at an ungodly hour, you’re using more of your time rather than losing it.
We harp on this repeatedly at Old School Gym, but it’s as simple as getting up and making it to the bathroom. If you make it that far, it’s on, as far as I’m concerned. If I have any doubts, I see myself in the mirror, and that feeling of accountability immediately kicks in: “If I don’t go, I’m lazy. And I’ve worked too hard for that to be true.”
So, yeah, the alarm goes off each day at 3:45 a.m. I admit that it took some getting used to, but my body is used to it now.
I know your next question: “If you’re getting up at 3:45, what the hell time are you going to bed?” My reply to that question—and I get it a lot—is around 10:30 p.m. So yes, I only sleep 5-6 quality hours per night. It sounds crazy, and it just might be, but I believe as long as I get that much sleep, I’m ready to take on the world.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t think sleep is important. Believe me, the hours I get are very important to me. I just believe that it’s more important to earn every bit of sleep I get than sleep as much as possible.
The late, great Jack LaLanne believed in this principle, and I’ll gladly follow his lead. This was a guy who knew about taking advantage of every single minute he had available to him. Here’s how he described it to NPR when he was 89: “I’ve only got one enemy: Jack LaLanne … I usually hit the gym around 5 or 6 in the morning. To leave a hot bath, leave a hot woman, [and] go into a cold gym takes a lot of discipline, boy, I’ll tell ya … I never liked to exercise, but I like results.”
Did you notice what wasn’t on his list of things making you tired? “Not getting enough sleep.” This principle is hard to explain until you get in the groove, but once you’re there, there’s no limit to what you can do.
Obviously, an early morning workout is good for your body. It’s also a natural stress reliever working out right after waking up. I love the confidence that comes from knowing my workout is already completed. It helps me walk with my chest out through the rest of the day, knowing that I’ve accomplished more before 9 a.m. than many people will do in an entire day. But let’s touch on why it helps the mind, too.
Growing up I was never some academic animal or guru. I probably read one book during high school, and that was the Michigan basketball “Fab 5” book. But once I became a self-taught businessman and fitness professional, I had to find mentors in life—and through books. I’m certainly OK with that, though, because my non-traditional education has worked out well for me.
But that education didn’t just happen. It continues to happen every day, right after I train. After you’ve completed your workout, set aside 15-30 minutes to work on personal development. This could be any of a number of things, but for me, it includes studying fitness or business, or reading biographies on someone I want to learn about.