‘10 Tips for How to Stay on Track in the Cold’

Don’t let all of your hard work thru the warmer months come undone with the first hint of a cool breeze.  Your training regime does not have to be seasonal! Training in the colder months may make you feel like hibernating rather than springing out of bed for that 6am PT session. It’s far easier to make excuses not to when the weather starts to turn but there are many benefits to training in the cold weather.

In order to stay on top of your fitness goals use the following tips to help you achieve year- round fitness.

  1. Move your training Indoors – If training outdoors is your thing, then an indoor option may be the solution to keep you training year-round.  I teach Cycle classes at my local gym, in the Winter months, or when it is raining, the hard -core outdoor cyclists enthusiasts will come indoors to roll the legs over.  Many outdoor sessions like Bootcamps can be supplemented indoors for classes like HIIT or more traditional Circuit style workouts. 

Indoor workouts can also be done in the comfort of your own home. There is a wide array of online classes available that you can stream live or at a time that is convenient for you.

2. Set a Winter Training Goal – There is no reason why you cannot set seasonal goals in relation to your health.  Setting a goal in Winter will set you up for success for the upcoming warmer months.  If the goal thru Winter is to increase your strength in all of your major lifts like squats, deadlifts and bench. Then a good practice to put into place is how are you going to measure this? Also consider how many days per week training would this involve? 

Your goal may be to lose some weight. This may involve tracking your food and exercise for a period of time and taking some measurements to track your progress.

3. Pre- Pack Your Gym Bag: Having a pre packed and ready-to-go gym bag equipped with all of the essentials such as warm winter layers, healthy snacks, a towel and headphones will give you the best chance of heading out the door.  The same rules apply if you are training in the afternoon, planning and preparing for your workout before you train will make the transition into the colder weather a lot more palatable.  I know of some clients that set their workout attire out the night before especially if they are training early to make getting up in the cold more seamless.

4. Warm Up – Preparing your body for the workout that lies ahead is essential.  Adequate warms ups involve mobilising your body thru a combination of static (held stretch) and dynamic stretching (movement based) such as jogging on the spot and swinging your arms, shoulder shrugs, arm circles etc.  Try to recreate some of the exercises you will be doing in your training using your bodyweight, moving thru a greater range of motion as you get warmer.  Warming up sufficiently will help you decrease your risk of injury and ensure you get the most out of your workouts.

5. Eat to Stave off Sickness:  In the Winter months colds, coughs and sore throats become more prevalent.  Instead of reaching for the comfort food the cooler weather is a good opportunity to explore the seasonal fruits and vegetables winter has to offer. Pre prepare soups with stock and seasonal vegetables such as parsnips, sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli and cauliflower.  A great time saver and a wonderful way to bring out the flavours in foods are slow cooked meats and vegetables.  A wide variety of foods can be cooked in a slow cooker including one pot meals, soups, stews and casseroles.

6. Vitamin D – It’s one of the great Australian paradoxes, in a sun loving nation with one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, we still have a vitamin D deficiency problem.   The bodies main source of vitamin D is through sun exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, yet research shows roughly 1 in 4 Aussies don’t get enough sunshine to maintain healthy bones and musclesAccording to Adjunct Professor Craig Sinclair, Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborative Centre for U.V radiation.  ‘You only need a few minutes under the Summer sun to get adequate vitamin D, but if you go over that you are risking DNA damage.  In the Winter months, on the other hand, when the UV index is less than 3, you might need a couple of hours of midday exposure during the week to get adequate vitamin D from the sun’, explains Sinclair.

Where you live can also make a difference.  According to ABS data, vitamin D deficiency in winter is most common in the southern parts of Australia such as Victoria and Tasmania. 

7. Stay Hydrated – It can be easy to forget about drinking water when you are not sweating, but you can quickly become dehydrated on the cooler days too.  Keep a 2 litre water bottle on your desk when you are at work at take regular sips from it aiming to drink all of it by the end of the day.  Whilst exercising try to drink 250ml every 15 minutes of exercise.  Dehydration can cause brain fog, reduced athletic performance and even slows down the weight loss process

8. Try the 7 minute rule – I have been employing the 7 minute rule to my own workouts for over 10 years and I even share this method with my clients. On those days when your motivation for training is really starting to wane, put your workout clothes on and get to the gym.  Put your favourite music on and if after 7 minutes of training you still feel like leaving then give yourself a free pass (without guilt) to leave. More times than not you will push thru and finish your workout and feel better that you gave it another shot. 

9. Change it Up – The change of seasons is a good time to start to vary up your workout routine.  In most cases we start to reach training plateau’s after 4 -6 weeks of doing the same activities.  A plateau means that the results we got at the start of our new program start to decrease.  This can manifest in both cardiovascular and strength training as well as in weight loss.  Doing the same type of exercises day in and day out can make our motivation levels take a nose dive.  Try to change up 1 day of exercise and watch your results start to increase and your motivation levels start to soar.

10. Buddy Up – Enlisting a workout buddy is the best way to establish accountability.  When you can’t count on yourself to make it past the pre-workout coffee, calling in a buddy is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t hit the cancel button on that morning alarm.  Having a friend by your side during those winter months will be likely to keep you moving during those extra tough times.