Ask anyone who’s successful: “What’s your morning routine?” and they almost always have a very specific answer.
Whether it’s going for a jog, hitting the gym, reading the paper, or meditating, every single successful person has some form of a morning ritual.This is not coincidental, it’s for a reason.
A good morning routine will get you started on the right foot; it will prime your mind to focus on what’s important, get you into a good mood, and fill your body with energy. For any man trying to change his life, I recommend you start by simply implementing a morning routine.
Why You Need a Morning Routine
Why is it that Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Benjamin Franklin, and Richard Branson all have a very specific morning routine, that they hardly ever deviate from?
In short, it’s because your first waking hour determines what your entire day will be like.
Have you ever stubbed your toe first thing in the morning? Or gotten in a traffic jam on the way to work? It’s not a coincidence that the rest of the day was probably miserable.
It’s why your entire day can be absolutely horrible if you start it off the wrong way. Have you ever spilled a glass of milk first thing in the morning? By triggering certain negative emotions when you first wake up, your mind becomes primed to interpret everything negatively; to see the bad side of everything.
On the flip side, you can use momentum to your advantage. If the first hour of your morning is amazing, it’ll be that much easier to feel amazing for the rest of the day.
So why not take advantage of your mind’s tendency to prolong a state and engineer the first hour of your morning? This way, you can be happy and motivated all day long.
What Makes A Good Morning Routine?
There’s plenty of things that you can add to your morning routine, from meditating to lifting weighs, to reading one of my “Best Books for Men,” to doing some yoga, but they all have a few things in common. A good morning routine does three main things:
1. A Good Morning Routine Relieves Stress
Upon waking, your level of cortisol extremely high. For those of you who don’t know, cortisol is a hormone that enhances alertness and suppresses appetite, so it’s a good thing in moderation.
Too much cortisol, however, has been linked to depression, anxiety, and a lowered immune system, among other things. This is why it’s crucial to keep cortisol levels relatively low.
One of the ways that you can do this is with a morning routine—why not lower your cortisol level first thing in the morning when it’s highest?
This is why morning routines typically include things like jogging, lifting weights, or doing yoga—these things all lower cortisol.
2. A Good Morning Routine Enhances Your Focus
Focus is absolutely crucial to succeed at anything—the more that you can tune out nagging thoughts and irrelevant information, the more that you can use all of your mental resources on accomplishing your goals. If you cannot focus, you will succumb to every little distraction that presents itself.
In short, your ability to focus is one of your most precious assets. Without it, you will accomplish nothing.
If you have poor focus, don’t worry—it’s very possible to improve it. In fact, someone who makes an effort to improve their focus can expect to surpass 99% of human beings’ ability to focus. Because most human beings are just operating at mediocre, simply making an attempt to improve your focus (or anything for that matter) will get you ahead!
That’s what a good morning routine does—it enhances your focus. It’s why Warren Buffett reads first thing in the morning, and it’s why Russell Simmons meditates 20 minutes first thing in the morning.
Adding an activity that cultivates focus to your morning routine will prime your mind to use all of its energy towards accomplishing your goals.
3. A Good Morning Routine Cultivates Motivation
All of the intelligence and potential in the world won’t amount to anything without motivation. Without motivation, you’ll just sit around and think all day without actually taking action.
Motivation is your reason for pushing yourself. It’s your reason for doing what you do. Without it, you become a shell of a man. Motivation can come from your family, it can come from a desire to change the world, or from a burning passion for your craft. Motivation is different for every individual.
Steve Jobs was motivated to humanize the realm of technology through developing user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing computers and handheld devices.
Tony Robins is motivated to help others improve their lives—he accomplishes this by teaching seminars, coaching individual clients, and writing books.
Jordan Belfort was motivated to make obscene amounts of money—he accomplished this by scamming countless people.
Motivation can come from a negative place or a positive place, and it can manifest in an almost unlimited number of forms. But one thing is for sure: if you aren’t motivated, you won’t achieve what you want in life.
That’s why cultivating motivation first thing in the morning is so important. If you kickstart your day with a surge of motivation, it’ll be way easier to slug things out until the end.
The Best Morning Routine Out There
Before I delve into how you can make your own morning routine, I want to offer you a gift: my very own morning routine. I firmly believe that, had I not utilized this morning routine earlier in my life, I would still be depressed and lonely.
This morning routine helped me transform my life, and I want it to help you, too.
I started to develop this morning routine when I was 18 years old—I was extremely depressed, and was desperate to find a way out.
One of the first things that I decided to do was to make a morning routine. I knew that if I wanted to rewire my brain and transform my life, I’d have to start every single day right.
I knew it wasn’t a coincidence that every single billionaire, successful inventor, and serial entrepreneur started their day with a morning routine, so I figured that it would be a good place to start.
I’ve refined this morning routine over the years and still continue to use it (albeit intermittently) to this day. I hope that you choose to try it out for a mere 4 weeks—you’ll be shocked at how much it will transform your life.
My Comprehensive Morning Routine
A brief summary:
6:00 Wake Up
6:01-6:05 Gratefulness Exercise
6:06-6:15 Coffee/Subliminal Messaging
6:41-6:55 Bio-Energetic Warm-Up Routine
I designed this routine to be as effective as humanly possible at cultivating motivation, enhancing focus, and rewiring your mind for success.
It’s the result of years of research and refinement—I’ve packed it full of every single possible advantage that exists. It’s meant to sharpen your edge to an almost unnatural level.
Consequently, there’s a lot of things here that might seem strange, pointless, or esoteric. Believe me, they’re not. Everything in this routine serves a purpose. This is why, if you choose to try it, you must follow it to a tee.
Without this routine, I don’t know if I would have ever climbed out of the dark, deep hole of depression that I was in for so long. This routine works, plain and simple.
Here’s a more in depth elaboration:
6:00 AM – Wake Up Using Biologically Friendly Technology
My favorite alarm clock. It simulates a natural sunrise with a calming ocean sound.
I’m sure to use my favorite alarm clock. It mimics the sunrise, starting 20 minutes before you have to wake up, so that you can gently drift out of your deep slumber. In my experience, peacefully waking up to a dim light and the sound of the ocean is highly preferable to being jolted awake by an obnoxious siren-like alarm. Yes, it’s more expensive than a regular alarm clock, but I want to wake up calmly, not be yanked out of a deep sleep by an ungodly screeching noise.
I have a light box set up to an electrical outlet timer. A light box is basically what it sounds like: a box that gives off light. Here’s the catch, though: it has special bulbs that are extremely bright. They mimic the sun’s rays, and can actually be used to treat depression. Within 2 minutes of my alarm gently waking me up, my light box automatically turns on, illuminating my room with a solid 10,000 lux, which is roughly 100x brighter than your typical light bulb. Try falling back asleep after that.
I cut my risk of having a heart attack by using a natural alarm clock. Regular alarm clocks have actually been shown to increase stress, raise blood pressure, and heighten your risk of a heart attack.
By using a light box, I encourage my brain to produce serotonin, decreasing my risk of depression.
If you have a hard time waking up early, this literally makes it 10x easier to do so.
6:01 to 6:05 – “Gratefulness Exercise”
Write down three things that you’re grateful for, and why you’re grateful for them. These things can be anything from your house to your education to the fact that it’s sunny outside to the fact that you have a hot date later in the day.
It is crucial that you are explicit and comprehensive in this exercise. It is so much easier to be grateful when you go in depth as to all of the benefits you get from something.
Bad example: “I’m grateful for my house, because it shelters me.”
Good example: “I am so grateful for my house, because it protects me from the rain, from the cold, and from the heat. Without my house, I would have nowhere to put my belongings. My house provides me with a study room, which I can use to read, improve myself, research stocks, and get work done. I am very grateful for this.”
Actively practicing gratitude has been shown to have many benefits, from improving your physical health to increasing your self-esteem.
By doing this exercise first thing in the morning, it trains your brain to focus on the positive for the rest of the day.
I personally keep a handmade leather-bound journal by Fiorentina and a nice fountain pen right next to my bed. This is very important.
Your mind subconsciously respects things that are nicer, and by taking the effort to get a nice journal and pen, writing down the things that you’re grateful for will take on a whole new level of seriousness. If you hastily jot down a few sentences on a piece of loose leaf your mind won’t register it that deeply. If, however, you make a serious effort to use a very nice journal and pen, your subconscious mind will interpret it as being more meaningful.
This is a concept in psychology known as backwards rationalization. Instead of thinking “This is an important exercise – I think I’ll use some quality materials,” your subconscious mind thinks: “I’m using fancy materials to do this, so it must be important!” It looks at your actions and thinks backwards to justify them, deeply internalizing the gratefulness exercise and transforming your mindset.
6:06 to 6:15 – Sip Coffee While Watching a Beneficial Video
Either make coffee with a french press (the method that captures coffee flavor and aroma the best) or set your coffee machine to make you a cup so it’s ready when you wake up.
Personally, I prefer Red Coffee’s line of coffee (the dark roast is the best)
As you’re sipping your coffee, watch a video that either motivates you or gives you subliminal messaging.
While you are doing this, be sure to adopt a “power pose,” such as holding your hands high up in the air, or resting them on your head. This has been shown to increase testosterone and reduce cortisol by up to 20% and 25% respectively.
Coffee has been proven to have numerous benefits, from improving cognition to improving physical performance to lowering your risk of diabetes.
By pumping your mind full of positive stimulus, you’re priming it to think a certain way. Over time, your mind will naturally be motivated and come to believe the subliminal messages that you’ve bombarded it with.
By increasing your testosterone and reducing your cortisol first thing in the morning, you’re giving yourself a fantastic head start.
For the coffee, I recommend one of two things: either you get it locally, or buy Red Coffee.
Ultimately, good local coffee is the best in my opinion. But, not everyone has access to it.
If you don’t have access to good local coffee (through a Whole Foods or local organic market), I recommend that you look into Red Coffee.
As for the motivational videos, you’ll have to find something that resonates with you. Maybe you don’t like the videos that I recommended. That’s fine. Figure out which videos you do like and watch them.
Subliminal messaging may seem like pseudo-science, but it’s actually a very well documented phenomena. By flooding your mind with subliminal messages, you’ll eventually come to embody and fully believe them.
It may feel “weird” to watch these subliminal messages at first. This is normal. Your mind is experiencing what’s called a “cognitive dissonance.” In other words, your beliefs don’t match up with the videos. Over time though, you’ll actually enjoy watching them.
Also, I’m a big fan of these warrior coffee mugs. They’re pretty fucking badass. I try to control every single thing in my environment and put them all in my favor. Coffee mugs are no exception.
6:16 to 6:20 – Visualization Exercise
For 5 minutes, close your eyes and vividly imagine having whatever it is that you want to have.
For example, if you want to own a Ferrari one day, imagine yourself driving it. Imagine how the seat cushions your back. What does the wheel feel like on your hands? Imagine the rush of adrenaline you’ll experience as you’re driving full throttle at 215mph.
If you want a shredded body, imagine walking around on the beach with the body of Frank Zane. Imagine how you’ll feel when girls are all turning their heads to look at you, imagine your level of confidence, and imagine how much energy and vitality you would have.
Visualization keeps you focused on your goal. It trains your mind to associate very positive emotions with your goals, so that they become that much easier to chase after.
Visualization has also been shown to increase the neural connections between the brain and body parts associated with what it is that you’re visualizing. For example, if you imagine yourself bench pressing 500 pounds over and over again, it will actually have a statistically significant effect on your bench press strength. Pretty incredible, isn’t it?
Arnold was a huge proponent of visualization. He has stated multiple times that he used to imagine his biceps being as big as mountains, and that when he was training for Mr. Olympia he imagined himself winning first place over and over again. Seems like his visualizations came true.
Some sources think that visualization is pseudoscience (I used to), but after seeing what it’s done to me I’m now a firm believer. Either way, I’ll let you decide.
This is the most beneficial activity within this entire routine. Meditation has been shown to have a plethora of benefits such as reducing stress, increasing happiness, enhancing focus, slowing aging, and even bolstering your immune system.
Meditation allows you to move on and leave your past behind. Fear, anger, and guilt that were once holding you back will vanish once you start to meditate regularly, allowing you to accomplish anything you set your mind to.
If you only get one thing from this article, make it this.
Meditation is one of the most powerful tools that you can use to transform your life, and it’s also the most simple.
6:41-6:55: Jon’s Alpha Male Physical Warm-Up
First, rapidly bounce up and down and feel the impact of your feet hitting the floor. Feel the vibration all throughout your body.
Shake your body in EVERY POSSIBLE DIRECTION! Flail your arms around, kick your legs, and wobble your head.
Pound your chest, and yell at the top of your lungs!
These three exercises get you out of your head, and into your body. They boost your testosterone, increase your sense of well-being, and energize your body.
Because of the specific movements designed to free your body from repetitive, dysfunctional movement patterns, you’ll actually notice an increase in confidence and happiness after you complete it.
This routine is built upon the work of Wilhelm Reich, a German psychologist who had a profound impact on how we understand the relationship between the body and the mind.
I’ll be publishing more articles on this body/mind dynamic in the future, but for now here’s what you need to know: over time your body develops “muscular armoring,” or chronic tightness in certain areas due to emotional dysfunctionalities. This routine helps break them up, which not only improves athletic performance and flexibility, but also helps to release suppressed emotions and boost your self-esteem.
How to Transform your Life
I highly recommend that you try this routine for just 30 days—I realize that an hour may seem like a big deal, but the rewards you reap will be incredibly worth it your time.
I was able to push myself to the next level using this customized, comprehensive morning routine, and I hope that you choose to do the same.
How to Make Your Own Morning Routine
Don’t think that you have to adhere to mine—I’d definitely recommend it, but it’s also great to make your own.
Some people don’t need more confidence, but they need more focus. Some people don’t need more flexibility, they need to be more productive.
I get it. Different people have different needs. I can’t help you with this, because I don’t know what your specific needs are. My morning routine is a phenomenal, overall routine, but maybe you want to focus on something specifically.
Do you usually get stiff in the upper back? Maybe you should consider having a yoga focused morning routine. Do you get depressed often? Maybe you should incorporate more activities shown to improve your level of happiness.
Or, maybe you liked my routine and want to give it a go.
Either way, I’ve created a small list (by no means comprehensive) of some things that you can add to my morning routine or use to create your own:
It’s great for fat loss. The idea is that your body has to jack up its metabolism in order to heat the water up to 98 degrees. Bonus points if you chew on the ice. This can burn an extra 100-300 calories a day depending on how much water you drink and how much ice you have.
Make A Greens Smoothie (Anti-Inflammation/Health)
This is a great way to boost your cognition and overall health first thing in the morning.
My personal greens smoothie:
When I can, I use a Vitamix Pro Series 750 Blender. It makes shakes as smooth as butter, which actually increases the bioavailability of the nutrients.
Add 1 green apple, 1 cup of kale, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (you can get 10 pounds at Costco for like $15), 1 cup of almond milk, and blend.
Now here’s the important part. Add in a bunch of powders and herbs that have massive health benefits. I personally add in 1 tsp of ginger root powder, 1 tsp spirulina powder, 1 tsp turmeric root powder, and 5 or 6 peppercorns.
Blend it all in and enjoy. It won’t taste very good, but it’s extremely good for you.
Go For A Jog (Relieve Stress/Heart Health)
This is a pretty popular thing to do in the morning, and it’s easy to see why. Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to have a ton of benefits, from improving your hormonal profile to lowering your risk of heart disease.
If you can’t jog, that’s okay. Just start off by walking or speed walking and slowly increase your speed. It’s better to speed walk for 10 minutes and come home feeling good than to jog too much and come home feeling nauseous and unfocused.
Take A Cold Shower (Fight Depression/Improve Athletic Recovery)
Cold showers are something that I take almost every day, I just don’t do them as a part of my morning routine (I usually take them after I come home from the gym to speed up recovery).
Cold showers have been proven to relieve stress, ease depression, improve athletic recovery, and enhance your immune system.
They also train you to overcome fear. If every day you force yourself to turn that knob and jump into freezing cold water, pretty soon you’ll have a high level of discipline and control over your body.
Just a note: when I say cold, I don’t mean mildly chilly. I mean as cold as it will possibly go. If you have to work your way up to this, that’s fine.
Do Some Yoga (Relaxation/Flexibility)
Yoga is a fantastic way to combat stress and improve flexibility, but watch out for pseudo-yoga studios. They’ve been popping up all over the urbanized US and are basically doing to yoga what Panda Express did to Chinese food (making it watered down and lower quality).
An issue with this may be finding a practitioner who teaches classes at the exact time you want to take them, but if you can find one that’s great. If you can’t, you can always teach yourself some basic poses (do Vinyasa Yoga for exercise, and Restorative Yoga for relaxation).
The Bottom Line
Having a morning routine is absolutely crucial to success – it’s the cornerstone of nearly every billionaire’s, business owner’s, and athlete’s day. It adds order to your life, minimizes stress, and primes your mind to kick ass at whatever you do.
It’s okay to only do one or two things every morning when you first start off – sometimes we don’t have the time to do a whole bunch of activities, and sometimes the benefit we gain from them isn’t worth the effort required. Don’t be afraid to “mix and match” until you find what works for you.
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.