'I worked out at 5am every day – and it taught me 3 important things' (2024)

Annie Long has a lot going on. The Massachusetts-based teen is all tied up running her 388K sub-strong YouTube channel, fulfilling her dream of becoming a Gymshark athlete and, you know, passing high school.

It's a fair amount to fit in, to be sure. Which is why the fitness-loving YouTuber has to come up with some err, creative ways to get it all done. Enter: a week of squeezing in her workouts before the sun comes up.

And despite all she has going on, it's been a while since she's pushed herself, Annie admits – another reason why she decided to commit to a week of 5 am workouts. 'This week, I'm going to do something that pushes me to grow,' she says at the outset of the video.

Day 1: Up and at 'em

'Waking up at 4 am every day to work out at 5 am is not going to be pretty,' Annie confesses. It wasn't. Groggy and still half asleep, Annie stumbles out of her bedroom (still managing to make her, bed, props for that), grabs a coffee, and hits the road.

Thankfully, when she arrives at the gym, she perks up a bit. 'I feel kind of tired, but it still feels manageable,' she says.

She powers through a lengthy 1.5 hour workout, featuring moves like box jumps, medicine ball slams, hip thrusts and fire hydrants, finishing off with some cardio on the stationary bike.

After a delicious-looking smoothie bowl breakfast (props for that too), Annie admits she's feeling surprisingly good. 'I actually really enjoyed working out at 5 am,' she says.

Day 2: Mental gains (and strains)

Annie's back at it on Tuesday, and much more energetic than she was the day before. She smashes a lower-body strength workout that features moves like leg presses, step-ups, and back extensions.

'For a while, I fell into the two-week workout programme trend,' she admits – plans by fitness influencers that promised things like 'inches off your waist' and 'achieving a certain body type'.

'I worked out at 5am every day – and it taught me 3 important things' (1)

'But those things just distract from getting stronger and the mental benefits of working out.' Now she's swapped HIIT and cardio workouts for good old strength training – and it seems to be paying off.

'I had such a good workout,' a glowing Annie reveals when she gets home. 'It's only 7.20, but I feel like I've already lived a long day, just because I feel so accomplished.'

However, by lunchtime, Annie's flagging. 'It's 1.30 pm and I'm really tired,' she says, flopping onto her bed after nearly dozing off in her online class. 'Waking up at 4 am to go to the gym at 5 am definitely has its cons...' She's forced to take a power nap to get through the rest of her day.

Day 3: Sucking it up

After roughly six hours' sleep, thanks to a late volleyball practice, Annie almost doesn't make it out of bed with her 4 am alarm. 'Everything in my body is telling me to go to sleep,' she moans from her bed. 'But I'm going to suck it up.'

At the gym, she's noticeably less energetic but she makes it through her cardio and upper-body session anyway, feat. an incline treadmill walk, TRX rows, shoulder taps and assisted pull-ups.

She also reveals another perk she's uncovered to joining the 5 am crew (apart from the noticeably emptier gym). 'I love the energy at the gym. I feel like everyone here that early is going for a purpose. Whenever I'm given an opportunity to be in a space where the energy is just high, I want to run to that place.'

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Day 4: Easing off

Come Thursday morning, however, Annie's energy is quite the opposite. 'I woke up to go to the bathroom, and I thought it was like 1 am. But the second I walked back to my door, my alarm went off,' she groans.

The wake-ups have been mentally challenging, she admits as she tries to pry herself out of bed. She manages – but opts to take things slightly easier at the gym, with a good stretch, some lighter weights and cardio.

Day 5: That's a wrap

While she's achy from all the hours she's put in at the gym Annie manages to get out of bed with her crack-of-dawn alarm and into the gym as it opens.

She makes it through a full-body session, which features a stint on the Stairmaster, back extensions, leg presses, and box jumps.

Annie's verdict

Hitting the gym at 5 am every day has been seriously challenging, Annie says. Will she be keeping up with her new morning routine? Annie doesn't say – but she does wax lyrical about how much she's learned during her little experiment.

These are her takeaways after the challenge:

1. Working out at the gym can improve mindset

For Annie, the early morning gym energy helped her focus on how exercise can help her build, rather than lose. It gave her the freedom to experiment, she adds, as opposed to 'repetitive at-home workouts.'

2. Self-care doesn't always mean rest

'You can love yourself and your body by also choosing not to listen to it at times,' she believes.

'My body was telling me to go back to sleep, but my mind and soul were telling me to take the path of most resistance.'

3. It starts with a 2-minute decision

Throughout her challenge week, Annie felt like every action she took came back to that 2-minute decision of whether or not to stick to her guns and get out of bed in the morning.

'A simple decision in the morning presents two paths: the decision to turn left or right has a domino effect into many other good or bad choices. And it just takes two minutes to make that decision.'

'The hardest path is picking which path we choose, but once we pick that path, everything kind of falls in line.'

More inspiring and easy to follow fitness challenges...

  • 'I did wall sits every day for a month, here's how it changed my body'
  • Take on the 25-7-2 Stairmaster challenge, as demonstrated by WH's Fitness Director
  • 'This is what happened when I challenged myself to do 100 skips a day for a month'

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'I worked out at 5am every day – and it taught me 3 important things' (7)

Kirsti Buick

Kirsti is a health and fitness journalist, a personal trainer and tech junkie. She’s a South African journalist who followed her passion for health and fitness all the way to the UK, where she now spends her days sweating it up and perfecting her form in gyms all over London.

'I worked out at 5am every day – and it taught me 3 important things' (2024)
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