Winter Workout Tips That Don't Involve Going To The Gym

Here we are - Covid-19 cases are on the rise again around the country and, despite that fact, most gyms have reopened. If you’re like me, the thought of working out wearing a mask in a gym sounds about as appealing as a double root canal. And then there’s the obvious concern about the spread of the virus in a gym where people are breathing heavy, coughing, and touching everything.

As summer comes to a close and much of the country heads toward cold weather, gym-goers are stuck trying to weigh the pros and cons of heading back to the gym regularly to work out. Personally, I’m not going back to my gym until we have the positive coronavirus cases in my area well under control, preferably after a viable vaccine is widely available.

Even for the fittest people out there, training is a constant challenge, and this is the time of year when most people just don’t have the drive to answer that challenge, opting for a more sedentary lifestyle.

For those of you that aren’t comfortable going back to your gym quite yet, take a look at this list of tips to avoid a winter workout rut so you can continue to make solid progress. When the snow and ice thaw at winter’s end, you’ll be looking and feeling great.

One of the best ways to stay in shape during the cold months is to just get out there and face it. Whether you enjoy downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, or just bundling up and going for a run, getting outside will be invigorating and will provide a great change of pace from cooping yourself up inside all the time. When the snow starts to accumulate, consider running in the snow as an activity that will be so intense that it will wear you down quickly, give you a great workout, and get you back inside before your sweat has the chance to freeze.

On that note, you’ll want some new clothes and/or shoes to help you get outside. Clearly, this will help you look better while working out, but more importantly, it will provide you with the proper apparel to face the cold, and the monetary investment should motivate you to make your purchases worthwhile. Try to find a happy medium with your budget – don’t feel the need to spend too much but don’t automatically go for the cheapest available thermal leggings or gloves unless you can tell that they will be effective.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really the time of year for half-days, long weekends, and vacations. If work is really bogging you down, and/or if you’re really feeling the winter blues, don’t worry about setting aside a long, continuous period of time at the end of the day for one big workout. It’s better to set goals that involve an accumulation of exercising over the course of the day. Don’t make it so that you have to do it all at once. It can also be better for your heart rate variability since you’re constantly going in and out of exercise and rest.

Whether you want to lose weight, put up better numbers with weights, or simply get faster at your preferred cardio exercises, set a reasonable goal, and make it as specific as possible. Try to think of a goal that involves numbers or a concrete accomplishment – like getting strong enough to do some crazy exercise that has always been a little too difficult to complete.

Training with a buddy is one of the best ways to increase accountability. Making the commitment to train with someone, whether it’s a friend or personal trainer, often forces a different, increased level of effort in your training. If you’re exercising with someone else, that means you’ll have to keep to more of a set schedule (no more putting off the gym until it’s so late you decide to bag it), you’ll be pushing each other to achieve more and you’ll probably have a much better time getting fit than you’d have alone. If this dynamic isn’t a part of your routine already, the winter is a great time to start exercising while being a bit more social than usual.

As the winter months drag on and the weather continues to suck, it’s time for some new music to get you going. Bear in mind that the best exercise music has been found to be between 120 and 140 beats per minute, and try to work out to some material you’re not that familiar with for a change.

There probably isn’t a better time of year to start doing some form of exercise that you’ve always avoided for one reason or another. Doing something new will force you to be fully engaged with the activity, helping you stay away from boredom that could lead you down the path of stagnation or backtracking. Whatever you haven’t tried yet but have always had some interest, whether it’s kettlebell training, yoga, CrossFit, or something else, do your homework, watch a few YouTube demonstration videos from a reputable source, and get after it!

Last, but certainly not least, pay close attention to your diet during the winter. It’s a very simple tip that applies any time of year, but winter is when most people stay in, warm up, eat rich foods, and drink hearty beers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you can’t out-train a bad diet. Keep that in mind, and also know that the good thing about being more active is that you’ll be more conscious of what you’re putting into your body since you won’t want to undo all of that hard work.


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