This article will go explain in rich detail what the morning routine of champions is. By the end of the article you will know how the best and brightest start their day. My hope is that the article will inspire you to take action to manifest your best life.
I’ll be upfront, the morning routine you are about to learn is not easy. It is a constant challenge to maintain it. That’s what makes it so effective. By starting our day with a challenge, the rest of the day can just flow by.
So read on if you feel this is something for you.
How I Learned About This Routine
About two years ago I came across the book “The 5AM Club” by Robin Sharma in a book store in the Czezch Republic. The cover caught my attention, and after learning that the author was Robin Sharma I began leafing through it. I had read his breakout book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” and had gotten a lot out of it, so I thought the same thing would happen with this book.
I bought it then and there.
It’s the only book I have read 5 times in my life. Every time I read it I get inspired to put in the energy to achieve my dreams. It’s engagingly written and is filled with learning models which represent in a visual format the book’s message. I highly recommend it.
The book talks about the one-hour morning routine you are going to read about. I have been practicing the routine for the last year and a half. It has totally revamped my life. By starting our day on the right foot, the odds of the rest of the day following the same pattern increase. The book’s key message is: the way our morning unfolds sets the tone for the rest of our day.
So if we start our days sluggish, cranky and unfocused, guess how the rest of our day will unfold? In the same way! I speak from experience.
But, if we start our day vigorously, peacefully and focused, the rest of our day follows the same pattern. Again, I speak from experience.
I Wasn’t A Morning Person
Waking up early has always been a herculean task for me. My poor mother suffered greatly every morning, when she woke me up for school. I would always snap at her in my half-awake, half-asleep morning state. So instead of waking me up in person she decided to start turning on the radio at full blast. Which made me even angrier, but at least she wasn’t around for me to vent at her.
Fast forward to my late twenties and the case remained the same. No matter what I did, how I did it or what goals I set, I could never manage to wake up early when I didn’t have an appointment to meet. I knew waking up early came with many benefits. But I believed I was just not meant to be a morning person.
Until I read the “5 AM Club”, applied what it said and saw the results: my productivity increased, my peacefulness augmented, my health blossomed, my self-confidence grew and my sleep improved. I’ve always had trouble getting to sleep. But once you start waking up at five in the morning, you’ll certainly be ready to sleep come nine or ten o’clock.
This routine isn’t easy! Those who will be able to pull it off consistently are those who know what they want in life and are willing to put in the energy to get it. If you wake up at 5 am without a clear purpose you will just go right back to sleep.
In this way, waking up at 5 am and doing this routine is a test to determine whether we’re heading in the direction your heart desires or not.
Now to the routine…
First Step, Wake Up At 5 AM
That’s the first step. Does it seem to be easy or hard to you? Your perception will determine how easy (or difficult) it is for you to wake up at 5 am. If you believe that waking up at 5 am is easy then you will have an easier time of doing so. If you perceive it to be hard then, naturally, it will be harder for you.
When I first started, waking up at 5 am seemed tough. But after a while of going through the routine it stopped seeming so difficult, until it became routine. I won’t say it became easy, because sometimes I still fail to get up at 5 am. But most of the times I’m successful.
The reason waking up at 5 am is the first step in the morning routine of champions is because it’s the best time to start the day if we want to be focused and at peace.
At 5 am the world sleeps. Because of this, all of the distractions and impositions of quotidian life are also asleep. It’s the best time to be alone with ourselves. And being alone with ourselves is essential if we are to commune with the highest within us.
What Being Alone Does For Us
Being alone, in silence, allows us to listen to the whispers of our soul. This is poetically true. Being alone and at peace in the early morning allows us to tap into our deepest self. In “The 5 AM Club”, this is called “transient hypofrontality.”
Transient hypofrontality is a fancy way of saying that our frontal lobe decreases its activity in the morning. The frontal lobe is the part of our brains responsible for analyzing. It’s the part of us that (in an untrained mind) is always chattering and criticizing. And in the early morning it decreases it’s activity, which allows us to contact a deeper, wiser part of us.
Second Step, Move
As soon as you wake up do vigorous cardiovascular exercise for 20 minutes. This is the toughest part of the morning routine, for me at least. That’s what makes it the most important part (but not by much).
See, our levels of cortisol are highest in the morning. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. It’s released by our adrenal glands. It’s responsible for, among other things, fueling our “fight-or-flight” instinct and managing how our body uses carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
The more cortisol we have in our body, the more stressed we are and the more stressed we are the less open we are to learning and creating.
By moving our body vigorously shortly after waking up we reduce the concentration of cortisol in our system. Not only that, but exercise brings into balance our hormonal and neurotransmitter levels. This allows us to start our day in optimum biochemical condition.
We are biological beings. Every choice we make changes our biochemistry. Exercising first thing in the morning primes our brain for learning by producing a molecule named brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF, according to Dr. John Ratey, is like miracle-gro for the brain.
For exercise, I perform one of the best workouts ever invented. It was created by Scott Sonnon, a martial arts champion. Read this review of mine if you’re interested in learning about it.
So we wake up at 5 am and exercise vigorously. These are the first two steps of the morning routine of champions. The next one is…
Third Step, Reflect
For twenty minutes, reflect. What does “reflect” mean? It means contemplate life. Journal, pray, meditate, do anything that allows to examine your life. Taking this quiet and peaceful time in the morning to touch base with our depths allows us to maintain a steady course through the vicissitudes of life.
By anchoring ourselves to our depths we become steady. This doesn’t mean we’re inflexible and bossy. It means we remain true to our values regardless of the situation we may find ourselves in. That’s what being “steady” means in this context.
Reflecting for twenty minutes at the beginning of the day puts things into perspective. It focuses us while simultaneously relaxing us. It allows us to see that life isn’t all that serious, and that we’re here to enjoy life while serving others. Reflecting feeds our soul.
Personally, during my “reflect” stage, I meditate for an hour. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to do the same thing I do. I’m only sharing what works for me.
Meditating Is An Essential Part Of My Life
Meditation is my retreat into my inner sanctum, where a spacious stillness pervades all. You may be able to imagine what this does for my days. If you imagine the mind as a choppy lake, meditation calms the lake so we may peer into its depths.
The science supporting the beneficial effects meditation has on our body and mind is piling up. It reduces cortisol, increases serotonin, lengthens our telomeres, thickens our frontal cortex, improves our propioception, reduces mind wandering and increases focus, and those are just the things I can think off of the top of my head.
Meditation is a natural technology with a rich history which we all have at our disposal.
I begin my days in such a deep state of peaceful relaxation that the entirety of most of my days are peaceful and relaxed, even when I’m under stress. I laugh often, I move gracefully and lightly and I give those around me space for them to be themselves. I inhabit reality as it is, while responding to it in the best way I can.
All of this is thanks to my morning meditation. So I recommend it for (most) everyone. If you have any psychological disorders it would be best to check with a professional before starting a meditation practice.
Fourth Step, Read
Reading through this blog you’ll notice that I draw knowledge from many fields of knowledge to write articles. How do you think I learned about these things?
The richest, most successful people in the world read for around an hour a day.
What better time to read than after you’ve primed your brain for learning and calmed your mind down by reflecting on life? Anything you read will stick into your brain and mind like glue. You’ll be able to remember it effortlessly because you’ll be using your body/brain in an optimal state.
Humans are marvelous learners. When people believe it’s hard for them to learn things it’s because they haven’t been taught how to use their body and mind effectively. Our bodies and minds are tools, if we don’t keep them well maintained they degrade, so when we use them they don’t perform as well as they could.
By waking up early, exercising and reflecting, we oil, sharpen and tune up our body and brain. We superpower our learning capacity. This allows us to shine whenever we want to learn something new.
So what can you read during this period? I recommend non-fiction; like psychology, popular science, management science, self-improvement, business and history. Texts like these require great focus in order to integrate what they say into our lives. That’s why it’s best to read them in the morning, when we’re the freshest. Expanding our knowledge allows us to make better decisions!
So that’s the one-hour morning routine of champions!
BONUS I – Limit Your Use Of Technology
Every time we look at our phone throughout the day, a piece of our attention gets left behind. Whatever we see in the phone then sits in our mind, drawing energy away from our work or relationships. This is “attention residue.” Leaving our attention on our devices kills our ability to focus deeply.
If you start your day at 5 AM only to waste your time on your technology, then you are hurting your chances at having a world class day.
So keep your attention focused on your routine. Limit the time you spend on your devices in the morning. Your attention (and work/friends/family) will thank you for it.
BONUS II – Fast Until 10 am
Intermittent fasting is the habit of eating within a certain window of time (say 8 hours) and then not eating when outside of the window (for 16 hours).
Intermittent fasting is a fascinating subject. Historically, many cultures have associated fasting with increased health, longevity and focus. Today, scientific research is being performed on the practice with encouraging results. Fasting, under expert supervision, has profound healing effects on the body and mind.
I practice intermittent fasting.
I fast until around 12 o’clock in the afternoon. This allows me to be super focused at work. If I don’t eat until 12 I get tremendous amounts of high-quality work done. If I eat before I work my focus, energy and the quality of my work go down. It takes energy to digest our food, so eating before working is counterproductive.
Once 12 o’clock hits, I eat. At that point I’ve finished the most important work and can move my attention to lighter projects.
Intermittent fasting works. I invite you to research if it’s something you can do and, if so, try it. If you want, check out this condensed lecture given by Dr. Mark Mattson, a scientist at the National Institutes of Health.
I hope you’ve learned something from the article and that it inspires you to take action to revamp your morning routine! We all have tremendous options available to us. We just need to take the time to discover them. By reading this article you’re doing just that!
Beginning the day at 5 AM and following through on this routine can set a person up for tremendous success. By waking up to work on ourselves we take ownership of our morning. Rather than waking up for the sole purpose of going to work or school, by waking up to exercise, reflect and read, we start the day for ourselves rather than someone else. We take control of our morning.
This is empowering.
So I invite you to try this routine out! It will take you a couple of months to get into the habit of waking up at 5 am (the book says it takes about 66 days). If you want to learn more about this routine, and get inspired in the process, I highly recommend reading “The 5 AM Club” by Robin Sharma.
To our wealth and success.