My 30 Day Challenge – Waking Up At 4:30 A.M. Every Day

Waking Up And Working Out 4:30 AM
Day 1 Of My Challenge
Waking Up At 4:30 A.M. To Workout
Does waking up early (i.e. 4:30 A.M.) every day really have a positive impact in your life? Or is this just another self-help trick that people who feel time-starved fall for? After all, everyone of us has the same 24 hours in a day so what does the time we get up in the morning matter?
So, being a scientist and all-around curious person, I performed a personal experiment to see for myself if waking up really early in the morning for 30 consecutive days made any difference in the quality of my day.
More specifically, I wanted to see if I really did make more progress toward my goals by waking up before the sun rose. I also kept track of my mood, physical fitness, sleep time, and quality to see how they were affected.

What I Did Every Day After Waking Up At 4:30 AM

As soon as my alarm went off, I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, drank a glass of cold water, got dressed, and then went outside to train for 30-45 minutes. I can’t say I always moved quickly because I didn’t. But I did move.
This simple act of just getting started and moving forward, no matter what, really helped. If I stopped to think about how I felt it’s very likely I would’ve ended back in bed and never made it the 30 days.

How I Felt Waking Up At 4:30 In The Morning For 30 Days

Getting up early went from brutally hard, to as easy as getting up at my normal time. My first couple of days my brain told me to go back to sleep, even the cold kitchen floor looked comfortable. I had trouble focusing my vision felt nauseous, and thankfully didn’t have to speak with anyone since I’m not sure it was possible.
Day by day it became much easier. Below is a breakdown of how I felt during different phases of the challenge.

Days 1-5

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  • Overall felt pretty awful, could have fallen right back asleep.
  • Workouts are pretty lame, feel weak and slow, but I got them done.
  • Feel really sore post-workout.
  • Felt like taking naps throughout the day and often did for 1-2 hours at a time.
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    Days 6-14

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  • Alternated between feeling awfully tired and full of energy.
  • Workouts better as the days go on, feeling stronger and less tired between sets.
  • Post-workout soreness still exists but it’s fading.
  • Less tired throughout the week – only took 1 nap during this time.
    Days 15-30
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  • Felt really good and awake almost every day.
  • Woke up before 4:30 AM without an alarm clock many days.
  • Work outs are back to the same intensity as when I trained at noon.
  • I’ve become much less sore post-workout as these days progressed.

    The Benefits I’ve Experienced Waking Up At 4:30 AM Every Day For 30 Days

    I must admit that I felt and noticed the benefits of waking up extra early almost immediately. Just having 2-3 hours of silence is worth the effort.
    While an hour is an hour, there really something different about those before dawn. I worked out without any distractions and then spent an hour or more working on this website uninterrupted for a couple of hours. Every day for 30 days. This just doesn’t happen for me so consistently at other times of the day.

    Specific Benefits I Experienced Waking Up At 4:30 A.M. Daily

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    Physical Fitness

  • Better overall fitness (less winded, better surfing endurance).
  • I’ve become much stronger – this was the slowest to happen but after 2 weeks my strength increased rapidly.
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    Mental Fitness And Energy

  • Really boosts and improves my mood throughout the day.
  • Easier to keep a positive attitude and focus on solutions instead of problems.
  • After training my brain felt clear and energized, without caffeine.
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    Work Benefits

  • Much better focus at work, able to write for 2+ hours without getting distracted.
  • Got as much done in a 4 hour day as I normally would over 8-12 hours.
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    Overall Health

  • Easily lost 25 lbs of fat.
  • Added 3-5 lbs of muscle.
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    Time Management

  • Getting up at 4:30 A.M. really put my ADD tendencies in check.
  • After waking up early and working out I was super focused, and ready to get things done.
  • Many days I have my entire to-do list checked off by noon.
    My Diet
  • Getting up super early reduced and sometimes eliminated really strong cravings for carbs.
  • Many days I cave without realizing it until I’m drinking a liter of Dr. Pepper and eating chips and candy bars, as my breakfast! Since I’ve been getting up at 4:30 A.M. I haven’t had this problem.


    What It Was Like To Work Out At 4:30 A.M. Every Day

    The second part of this challenge was training every morning after getting up at 4:30 in the morning.
    While doing something is better than nothing, I wanted to make sure I kept to a high standard throughout the challenge. Listed below are the general requirements I followed at every one of my workouts.
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    1. The Equipment I Used For My Workouts

  • Kettlebells – 50-75 pounds
  • Sandbags – 65 pounds and up
  • My bodyweight for calisthenics (push-ups, etc.)

    2. Each Workout Had To Be At Least 10 Sets

    This is the minimum I figured it would take for me to be able to have a good workout. I’d do my 10 or more sets in many ways including: complexes (link), supersets, and standard sets of one exercise at a time.

    3. The Exercises Were Total Body

    I made sure to do exercises that trained close to every major muscle group (legs, back, chest, shoulders) at one time. This enabled me to keep the workouts brief but really intense and effective.
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    My Favorites For This Challenge Were

  • Lunges (front and reverse)
  • Squats
  • Push Presses
  • Push Ups
  • Thrusters
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Kettlebell Cleans
  • Bent Over Rows
    Each workout between 1-4 exercises. My favorites were the complex listed below and 1 exercise sessions doing 10-15 sets of kettlebell cleans, push presses, or squats.

    4. The Weights Used Were Challenging

    I didn’t want to back off from the weights I normally use since I wanted to see if it was possible to get as good or even better workout at 4:30 A.M.

    5. Each Workout Had A Specific Focus

    I set out every morning with a plan in mind for my workouts. I’d either focus on getting stronger, faster, or fitter.

    5. Every Workout Included Some Variation From The Previous Session

    This is done so I didn’t feel like I was doing the same old stuff every day. This, for me leads to becoming bored.
    I did many of the same exercises at most workouts. Kettlebell Cleans, lunges, and push presses especially. This really helped me I get better and stronger at each. Changing up their order, from doing using one or two arms/legs at a time, or the exercises tempo kept it fresh.

    Example 4:30 A.M. Workout From My Challenge

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    Kettlebell Complex

  • Using a 50 pound kettlebell in each hand.
  • No rest until the last in the complex is performed.
  • Do 10 complexes (sets) of 3 repetitions of each movement.
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    A. Exercises In This Complex

  • Kettlebell Clean
  • Lunges (3 reps each leg)
  • Push Press (1 arm at a time)

    B. Workout Finisher

    Farmers Walks – Holding 50 pounds in each hand walked approximately 100 yards. Repeat 3 times.

    Conclusion – Will I Continue Getting Up At 4:30 AM?

    Yes I will! The benefits are too great for me to consider sleeping in, no matter how comfortable my bed feels.
    Even though I know we all have the same 24 hours in a day, there really is something about getting up well before dawn that works for me. Whether it’s the solitude or something else, I don’t know. The benefits to me are clear as day and I like feeling like I own the day instead of it owning me.

    Jocko Willink Gets Up At 4:30 A.M. Every Day
    Jocko Willink Gets Up At 4:30 A.M. Every Day

    Thanks To Everyone Who Helped Me Complete This Challenge

    My favorite resource for motivation, in addition to my wife, is the Twitter feed of Jocko Willink. If aren’t familiar with Jocko is a retired Navy SEAL, jujitsu black belt, and successful entrepreneur who exercises what he refers to as extreme discipline. This includes waking up by 4:30 every morning and training.
    Every morning Jocko posts a picture of his watch showing that he’s up and going before or by 4:30 A.M. He posts an after of picture and tells what type of training he did that day.
    Every morning, after getting up and taking a screen shot of my phone showing the time I got out of bed I’d check Jocko’s twitter account to see that he too is up and training, often way before me. This simple task was really motivating. In addition the reasons ‘why’ I was getting up early, seeing that someone else was doing it, no matter what really helped.
    My wife really helped too. She checked in on my every day to see how I was doing as she sleeps till the much more comfortable 7:00 AM, and always wanted to make sure I was on track to achieve my goal of getting up early every day for 30 days.
    She’s so rad she even had the bed ready for me when I would go to bed at 8 PM on nights I really needed to get 8 hours sleep. Having clean fresh sheets ready every night make falling asleep a lot easier.
    Other people who’s story or habits motivated me to experimenting with getting up and after it at 4:30 A.M. daily includes:
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  • Frank Lloyd Wright – woke to work on designs from 4-7:00 A.M. every day, then napped.
  • Bill Pearl – legendary bodybuilder who has worked out at 4:00 A.M. for decades.
  • My Dad – who often got up at 4:00 A.M. to work at a job he didn’t especially love so he could be home in time for my soccer games.

    A Parting For Tip Getting Up At 4:30 A.M. – “Live Life In Day Tight Compartments”

    The quotation above is from Dr. William Osler, one of the founding physicians and professors at Johns Hopkins School Of Medicine.
    Basically speaking, Dr. Osler means that we should literally take care of one day at a time. I kept this in mind for the entire challenge. As long as I remembered to focus on getting up early the next morning and the next week or month, it never felt like an onerous task.
    I also think that by focusing solely on one major task – getting up at 4:30 A.M. and training – it made doing everything else during the day much easier. Achieving and checking off this win every day made things that may have paralyzed me with fear much easier to do.

    Curt Pedersen
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