As the sun sets get earlier and the temperature starts to drop it can be harder and harder to find the motivation to workout. Many find that as winter settles in, it is increasingly hard to stick with a fitness routine. Don’t let lethargy take over! With a little understanding of how to prepare properly for chillier temperatures, and a little enthusiasm to venture out into the cold, winter can be transformed into a season synonymous with fun workouts and great training opportunities.
The great news is that research has proven that once you have acclimatised to the cold, exercising in chillier temperatures actually burns fat at a faster rate than when we are in warmer temperatures. Additionally, exercise is a fantastic way to thrash the winter blues! But make sure you prepare properly, here are some great tips for training in the cold!
Like with everything in life, the path to success revolves around making a plan! Whether you are a high-level athlete, or you have just started working out, setting a goal can not only help focus your mind, but can provide further motivation.
Identify personal goals for your fitness (the easiest to keep track of tend to be performance based, e.g. complete 1000m on the rower within a certain time, or gradually building up to running 10km). Write this goal (or these!) down and put it somewhere where you will always see it. Tell friends about it, or get them to join you! Even better, set up a little contest! This is a great method to keep motivations high and it lets you work on your weaknesses.
This winter I will be working on my double under skipping technique! (In CrossFit we perform what is called a double under with the skipping rope – passing the rope under your feet twice before your feet hit the ground every time!) I spent years training in martial arts and always thought of myself as someone who could skip quite well…until I started CrossFit! What will your goals be this winter? Share them with us here and inspire others!
Outdoor Winter Exercise
I know it may sound mad, but it is still possible to train outside during winter! However, with winter training outside we must be prepared! Bad weather comes as part of the package. The key is to be both prepared for anything, and flexible for any potential changes. I prefer to wear thin layers rather than thick bulky clothing. Check out this great long sleeved compression top from Under Armour which would make for a fantastic base layer.
If you want to train outdoors in winter, having the right kit and equipment is essential. Get yourself some good thermal gear and some wicking clothes! (Wicking clothing “wicks” the moisture (aka sweat) away from your skin, which makes you feel more comfortable and prevents your kit from getting wet and cooling you down.) Waterproofs may also be an essential part of your winter training kit, staying dry is imperative for staying warm!
Be careful not to overdress. Tempting though it may be, this will make you sweat much more and will in turn leave you with more wet clothing, which will ultimately cool you down further. I find I get excessively hot if I wear a beanie hat, so I always opt for an ear warmer instead! For those runners out there, it may be a good idea to invest in a good trail running shoe. These provide extra traction on slippery surfaces and are generally waterproof.
Reflective clothing is a must!! Winter doesn’t just mean cooler temperatures, it also means shorter daylight hours. It is essential to have the proper gear for low light conditions. Get some reflective gear, or some bright reflectors to attach to your most outer layer. Be extra cautious on the roads. Stick to well-lit, familiar areas. Under Armour have some great reflective clothing to keep you safe when you go out for a run, check out this great cap!
Warm Up Inside
When it is cold outside and perhaps rather uninviting, you need to prepare both your mind and body to workout. It is extremely important to warm up properly before embracing the cold, this is also the best way to reduce any risk of injury. This is a great activation and mobility warm up that will help to increase the blood flow to your muscles and joints. Taking some time to warm up properly inside will also serve to prepare you mentally!
Post Exercise Management
When we get back inside after an outdoor warm up, we tend to heat up like a furnace! Difficult though it may be, try and resist the temptation to remove all of your clothing immediately. Your core temperature will drop dramatically once you stop training, try and get inside as quickly as possible. Once inside, dry yourself off and make sure to keep yourself warm. I always like to have a tea as soon as I get back home. If you are driving to a workout, make sure to bring extra clothing to keep you warm.
Be Prepared for any Changes
If it is really icy, or wet out, it is probably best to reschedule outdoor exercise. During winter we need to approach our training with flexibility, particularly if we plan on training outdoors. If the weather conditions are extremely unfavourable, then you will have to find some alternatives. Use winter as a time to experiment with some indoor training activities that you may not get the chance to try otherwise. Try indoor climbing, or trampolining or maybe even start working more on some yoga or pilates. Swimming is another great exercise that I want to try and do more this winter!
Even if the ice and rain aren’t stopping you, the winter can be a good excuse to change things up a bit, if you are someone who typically likes to work out in the evening but find that the early darkness makes it harder for you to feel motivated, try working out in the mornings instead.
It is of course possible to keep fit over winter, it just requires a bit of will power and perhaps some simple adjustments to your routine. Just getting up and out can be the hardest part when it is cold and dark. Try and find a training partner, this will make it harder to abandon plans, it will make it more fun and even add in an element of friendly competition!
Benefit from the sports that winter has got to offer, for those city dwellers, ice skating is now available in most major cities. There are beautiful pop-up rinks appearing everywhere. The most important thing is to do something that you enjoy. Don’t let exercise become a chore, because that will make it much harder to stick to your routine. Let us know what works for you this winter!