Winter Workouts: Tips To Stay Active During Long Cold Months
When it comes to the arrival of winter, workouts may seem more challenging than usual. At the end of the year, it always amazes me to realize that the months have flown by and the coldest days are back again.
I find myself reflecting on the past year: the goals set and attained, memories created, and difficult challenges faced. Health and fitness are always at the forefront of many of my goals, whether my own or those of my clients, and winter can often be an extremely challenging time of year to continue the standard health and fitness regime.
Not only are we faced with the wonderful holiday season full of treats, goodies, eggnog, alcohol beverages, large gatherings, and limited gym access, we also have to fight the cold and brave Arctic-like conditions.
If you are like me, cold weather can sometimes make winter workouts seem less than desirable. After all, who likes to dress with multiple layers to go for a run? Or risk slipping on ice when out for a walk? Even heating up the car in the early morning to make it to your yoga class can be a de-motivator. A remote car starter is more welcomed as a Christmas gift then a new workout outfit!
But good old winter should not be a time to hibernate your health and fitness goals, especially with all of those holiday treats around. With the right attitude and a mix-up of exercises, winter workouts can actually be a fantastic time to re-invent your routine, have fun, be creative, and try new activities. Not to mention, I always find that exercise can help beat the winter doldrums into submission.
I will admit that keeping motivated during winter poses unique challenges. But once you get yourself out the door you will realize the many great activities that can keep you trim and active this winter.
Tips For Winter Workouts:
- Proper hats, gloves, neck warmers, hand warmers, and tights are a must! If it is cold and chilly out, not arming yourself with proper attire will ensure a miserable experience. After all, you can always shed a layer once you warm up.
- Bring some snacks along. I always keep my Contender 6 Pack Bag with me, prepped with a post-workout meal like some good low-carb, high protein Skinnypasta, a shaker cup with my BCAA and Quest protein powder inside, as well as a liter of water.
- It bears repeating: hydrate! Yes, even in the cold, your body needs to stay hydrated.
- Proper shoes are crucial; especially if you think it might be icy outside, ensure you will be slip-free. You can even pick up some grippers that go comfortably over most shoes if necessary.
- Proper socks are also crucial. I personally find layering socks actually make my feet colder, so I recommend that you keep it to one good pair that lets your feet breathe.
- Check the weather forecast and conditions to properly plan your activity of choice.
- A headlight or flashlight is immensely helpful. With shorter days, the sun rises later and sets earlier; don't be caught in the dark.
Now that you've checked the weather, armed with your 6 Pack Bag, warm clothes for winter workouts, and â€œNever say freeze" positive attitude, it's time to spice things up!
Best Activities For Winter Workouts:
1) Ice Skating
Believe it or not, ice skating is great for winter workouts; one hour of ice skating can actually burn up to 450 calories! I find it also targets the inner thighs, glutes, and core. Most places will have a skating rink or local lake that freezes over, and skates can usually be rented for a reasonable price. One hour of skating will engage your core, glutes, quads, and hamstrings and will shock the system. Skating can be enjoyed on your own or as a social workout with a friend or two.
2) Snowshoeing, Snowboarding, Cross-Country Skiing
Why not take up a new hobby for your winter workouts? Embrace what the season allows for, as we are lucky enough to experience powder snow - perfect for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing!
Snowshoeing is intense and makes for a great form of cardio. It can be enjoyed by anyone, from beginners to seasoned snowshoers alike. Both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great activities to engage in with friends, and can easily be made into a wonderful day out in the countryside, taking in the beautiful scenery. Snowboarding is another fun winter activity that doubles as a workout.
Don't forget to pack a lunch in your 6 Pack bag, as well as extra warm clothes, and a thermos of sugar-free cocoa. You'll be set for a great day in the outdoors!
Nothing feels better than going outside for a nice brisk jog. Frost lining the grass, light snow dusting the pathway, and good tunes playing, running with nothing but your thoughts in your mind can be a great stress reliever.
Some studies have even suggested that running in the cold can actually burn more calories. Your metabolic rate does increase to warm your body, although I have found that it's truly not enough to make a huge difference, as I run faster in the cold, which in turn means I am exerting more energy than I would if I was running on a treadmill for example. Trying to outrun the cold never seems to work but it sure helps mentally!
Stairs are a wonderful form of exercise and can be enjoyed all year long. The key thing is to make sure that the stairs have been properly managed through the winter months. If they are, you're in for some great butt-shaping winter workouts!
I like to do a combination of stairs that utilize the quads, core, glutes, and hamstrings. I also like to incorporate some explosives and plyometric work. My typical stair workout includes:
- 2 flights running up continuous and walking down for recovery
- 2 flights of lunging up skipping 1-2 stairs and walking down for recovery
- 1 flight of hopping up each stair and completing 50 push-ups at the top and walking down for recovery
- 2 flights of side lunging up alternating sides each flight and walking down for recovery
- 1 flight all out sprint and walking down for recovery
- 2 fights of either walking or running up
- End with a light jog cool down and stretch
5) Mini Workouts
I like to do mini-workouts either outside or inside, regardless of the weather. A few of my top ones are:
1. Run for 5 minutes to warm up or skipping rope, then complete 2-3 rounds of 25 reps of each below, with 60 seconds rest between rounds.
- Air Squats
- Bicycle Crunches
- Jumping Jacks
- Walking Lunges
2. Complete 3-4 rounds with 60-second rest between rounds.
- Burpees: 15reps
- Walking Lunges: 15/leg
- Squat Jumps: 15reps
- Walkout Push-ups: 15reps
- Run 1 km
6) Home Workouts
What do you do when the roads are too bad to get to the gym or you are stuck at home? Do not use the weather as an excuse! Throw in a workout DVD or complete some of the outdoor circuits. If you don't have fitness equipment at home, your own body weight will still offer a great challenge!
If all else fails, remember what it is like to be a kid again - go outside and just play! You can break quite a sweat just having fun and you'll be amazed how the time will fly by. Raise your heart rate and get a cardio session in by making snow angels, having a snowball fight, or even building a snowman, as it can burn up to 285 calories an hour.
Mindset is critical. Winter is not just cold weather, it is a season to plan new goals, revisit old ones, and map out what you would like to accomplish over the next few months ... depending on how long your winter lasts. Instead of feeling negative toward winter, focus on what you do love about it and how you can embrace this time of year to appreciate the many possibilities of winter workouts.
What used to be known as the Winter of Discontent has now been re-coined as the Winter of Fit-content!
This post has been brought to us by Leah Berti, 6 Pack Ambassador, IFBB Pro, city police officer, and personal trainer. What can't she do?! Leah's passion for health and fitness shines through in her determined and powerful voice. Get more of her insight on topics ranging from traveling fit in Puerto Rico to how to devise a good workout schedule to the best workout earbuds. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook for more Leah, and get inspired to find the perfect meal management bag for your own fitness life!