Old Man Winter is not taking THIS program down!

Posted on October 9, 2009


For much of the country, we are fast approaching (or have rudely arrived at already) cold, wintry weather that

ready for winter workouts?

ready for winter workouts?

severely limits the time allowable outdoors exercising. I’m not just talking to my crazy athletes who run as long as the snow drifts aren’t higher than their waist. Even the non-athlete, optimal life pursuer get to take advantage of outdoor exertion in the form of bike riding, lawn care, walking the golf course, playing with grandkids on the swingset, and so on come summertime. The outdoors make for a great place to get a good sweat going, to mix up the boring routine some people have of ‘ugh, treadmill, again…’ & it creates opportunities for the body to work in different functional capacities than it usually does.

What happens to all of that when you ‘hang it up’ for the winter?

Do any fitness accomplishments you made over the spring & summer slowly seep away like slushy snow seeping onto side streets in March? Do you chain yourself to an unending monotony of elliptical trainer that’s as life sucking as the darkness of winter is?

Over the summer months, you were out running, biking, swimming, playing hoops, doing high intensity sports & you were seeing your energy level improve, you may have been losing weight & bodyfat, you were certainly building muscles & getting stronger in your daily life activities as well. All of those things took time to come on but they are gone in what seems like an instant when you stop using them regularly. Hate the gym & the boredom of cardio machines? I hear ya, so let’s re-evaluate what you’re doing and why & see if we can’t get you going for this winter!

There are two types of people I need to address with this post: 1. people who stop exercising entirely for the winter months & 2. people who were running outdoors, biking, swimming, doing cross-training type stuff in summer and now that it’s cold out, have resigned themselves to the treadmill for the next 4 months. While in action the two groups are different, what they need to realize is the same if they want to actually make the winter months worth something to their fitness.

  • You have to get your heart rate up for a sustained period of time & that doesn’t just mean hang out on a treadmill for 30 mins. Ever tried running in place, doing squats, then pushups all as fast as you can? Yeah, your heart rate will be up & if you do it without resting for three rounds, hello ‘sustained period of time’! Try doing circuits of bodyweight exercise in your living room. You’ll need about 3 feet of space & a mat if you intend to lay down. Done. Gym is set up.
  • You need to realize that you are setting yourself up to make the spring even harder if you stop entirely in the winter. It takes approx 7 days to start losing muscle mass, and within 4 weeks you will begin decreasing in cardio ability. When you DO get that spring fever to get going on making your body optimally fit again, you have a significantly higher risk of getting injured. Avoid that risk by maintaining throughout the winter, by keeping muscles long and lean through stretching programs, muscle – burning workouts & cross training.
  • You should be using this time to grow any areas that are not optimal yet. Winter is to us regular folk what the off-season is to pro athletes.While “off-season” sounds like that’s when you take a break from workouts, in fact, it’s actually when pros train the hardest. The players use this time to gain the extra strength needed to be in top form for season, when they spend more time focusing on turning any weaknesses into strengths. You should look at the winter as your time to train for your next season – the summer season where you’re out using your body & expecting a lot from it, when you want to wear less clothing & feel good in it. When pros are in-season they keep workouts short & challenging, working simply to maintain or make minor improvements to their fitness. If you prepare accordingly, your summer could look much the same, which leaves more time for enjoying all the other things summer has to offer.
  • Find something interesting & immerse yourself in it! Thinking about how yoga can help you? Curious about martial arts? Seen the TRX Suspension Training system and in awe of what you can do with it? Take the right steps to do it then! There are some incredible workouts you can do with little more than a few feet of space in a room, and a few pieces of equipment – and most of them will challenge your core & functional fitness in ways you’ve never experienced before. The TRX System is far & away my favorite training tool because with a few cables that you can hook to your door or the ceiling, you can train your core & build functional strength like nothing else!

You have to make the conscious effort to decide what you’re going to make of your winter. If you’ve never stopped to consider winter in that manner, sit down now with a pen & paper & write down what you’d like to have accomplished by the end of winter. Why not?? You set milestones for your life right?…’have a family by this age,’ ‘have gotten a promotion by that age,’ why not do a little planning for this winter to ensure you are farther ahead instead of further behind when we hit spring?

No matter what, do not let the winter be what sends you back to the starting line of your fitness & health! If you have questions about what to do or how to start something new, or you want to share what your favorite winter fitness program looks like, leave a comment!

Posted in: fitness