Working out during the depths of winter? Ugh! Many people shudder just at the thought of it. The colder months of the year present some of the biggest challenges to your workout routine, but thankfully also some of the biggest rewards. So how should your mindset and your workout change when you don’t even feel like going outside? In this article we’ll cover the best ways to stay in the right frame of mind, as well as things you should be aware of when training on cold days, this is your Better Than Ever guide to winter fitness.
How to keep your winter fitness
For many people, the single biggest challenge in keeping your winter fitness is staying motivated. When it’s cold or raining outside, staying in bed or going straight home after work looks far more appealing doesn’t it? The phrase ‘a summer body is made in winter’ is very simple and very true – if you want to look and feel great in summer you need to try and put in the hard work during the colder months first. With the right mindset, the results will speak for themselves.
Your motivation is wherever you find it
The interesting thing about motivation is that it’s different for everybody, and something that motivates one person may not motivate another at all. This is not a bad thing – in fact it’s a huge advantage – you can hone in on what motivates you personally and then maximise it. Take the time to stop and think about what you enjoy about working out. What is your goal? What makes you happy? What’s your favourite thing to do straight after your workout? Once you find your motivation, you’ll make it through winter and be in great shape for the warmer weather.
Large goals can help build long term momentum
Some of you may be best driven by a long term goal; you want to lose weight, gain some muscle, or just be happier with yourself when you look in the mirror in the morning. If that’s what drives you to keep working out – fantastic! Try to visualise how much better you will feel and look from each workout, and use that desire to get you out of bed in the morning. No one single workout will change your body overnight, but if you have a goal and you can visualise it every day, you will see results over the days, weeks and months.
Small goals can be perfect to get you through another day
For other people, even the smallest of ideas can be enough to lace up the workout shoes. Meeting your friends at the gym, rewarding yourself with a flat white after your workout, or indulging in a couple of red wines on the weekend can be more than enough to drive many people through the cold winter months. Whether you find motivation in a long term goal or something small in the short term – it really doesn’t matter. If you keep up your workout routine during the colder months, you’ll not only be proud of yourself but you’ll be even more motivated once the nicer weather returns.
Stay accountable with a personal trainer
Many of us struggle with accountability, unless we have somebody willing us on. It’s okay to set a goal, but you need the extra kick to get out of bed, get exercising and keep doing it every week. Getting yourself a gym membership is a good start. Even better is securing a personal or group trainer that helps with your motivation, keeps you on track and makes sure that you rock up to the gym when the temperature begins to head toward zero. You can get started now by locking in a Better Than Ever Kickstart session.
Working out in Winter
As well as finding your motivation, you also need to be aware of how to train correctly when the mercury drops.
A good workout on a cold day can be a huge adrenaline rush – as long as you look after your body and know how to avoid falling victim to the cold weather.
Training in the cold? Always take the time to warm up properly
The last thing anyone wants from a workout is an injury – after all, you’re trying to improve your health, not hurt yourself. Warming up and then stretching (in that order!) before your workout is important all year round, but it’s most important by far when thinking about your winter fitness. When your body is cold, your muscles tighten and contract in an effort to conserve body heat. This makes them stiffer, less flexible and more prone to injury. With this in mind it’s critical to focus on your warmup so that you can get the most out of your workout.
Warm up first, then stretch out
The key rule is to warm up before you stretch, to ensure that your muscles have a chance to heat up and become more elastic. Stretching cold muscles is a recipe for injury before your workout even starts!
An effective warm up will get the blood flowing through your muscles and prepare them for stretching. An ideal warmup involves simple movement such as arm circles, jumping jacks, using a skipping rope, or even a brisk walk or very light jog. 5-10 minutes will generally be fine, depending on the conditions and how your body is feeling. Pay close attention to your muscles during your warmup and you’ll know when you feel ready to move forward.
Warming down is as important as ever
In the cold weather you may fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t need to warm down – the cold conditions will do that for you. An effective warm down after your workout allows your breathing and heart rate to return back to a normal level, and encourages preventative muscle recovery for your next workout – whether that’s the next day or the next week.
Similar to your warm up, a good warm down involves some low level activity and movement (such as jogging, walking or just generally staying moving for another 5-10 minutes) followed by some final stretching – similar to the stretches you did before your workout began.
Working out and improving your physical health is always an ongoing process.
Some days it seems easy, and some days it feels very, very hard. It really is the same for everyone.
The key thing to remember is that getting out the door and starting your workout is always the hardest first step, and that even a light workout is better than no workout at all. Once you discover what truly motivates you and you learn to build on that, you’re already well on the way to seeing the results that you really want.
Want to get started on your journey to becoming Better Than Ever? Get started with a kickstart session now!