Maybe you’re spent from a night out with the guys or had a super long week at the office. Regardless of your why, getting to the gym or making it outside for a run is hard enough as it is on a regular day. But in the winter? Well, that’s a whole other ballgame. Chilly temperatures make it easier to stay in bed than hit the squat rack, we get it. Still, getting your heart rate up and sweating is important for your health. And if you’re going to make that worthwhile investment in you—well—you should definitely be getting the most bang for your buck. Use these simple tweaks to get the most out of your winter workouts.
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We don’t blame you for procrastinating leaving the coziness of your warm bed come December. And good news: Staving off going outside a little bit longer could be a good thing, says Dan Giordano, DPT, CSCS, and cofounder of Bespoke Treatments in New York City. That is, if you’re spending that quality indoor minutes warming up.
“By doing your warm up inside you will increase the blood flow to your muscles prior to going out in the freezing cold,” says Giordano. “Get your heart rate up. By doing this, you are not only increasing the blood flow to your muscles, but you are also lubricating your lungs (getting them ready to work). This is preparing your body for the cold weather outside.”
Giordano says it doesn’t need to be anything super extensive. Try foam rolling for a few minutes, then incorporating a movement-based exercise, like jumping jacks or mountain climbers.
Working out solo can be the ultimate stress relief after a day filled with annoying co-workers. But in the winter, pairing up in colder months can keep you accountable (and also: in a routine).
“While most people hope they have enough motivation and willpower to exercise in the winter, you already know both of those things are lost causes in the winter months,” says Steve Kamb, creator of Nerd Fitnessand author of Level Up Your Life. “That’s why you planning ahead and recruiting a workout buddy is key. You’ll have more fun (or be less miserable depending on the workout) because you’re exercising together.”
Plus, getting after it with someone who you perceive to be athletically superior can make you go longer and harder than if you were going at it alone (up to 200 percent harder, actually), according to a Kansas State University study.
In the summer months, you may as well look like you took a shower with your clothes on four minutes into your run. But in the winter? That’s not always the case. “It’s important to remember to continue to drink water in the winter because even though you may not be sweating as much as you would be in the summer, you are still working just as hard and need to stay hydrated,” says Conor Murphy, coach at Reebok CrossFit One.
Even without exercise, the Mayo Clinic recommends guys drink three liters of water daily. If you don’t feel the urge to drink, try setting your alarm to take a sip of something every 15 to 30 minutes based on how long you’re active. Going for longer than an hour? Try adding some electrolytes. With 4 percent carbohydrates and sodium, an option like CLIF Hydration Electrolyte Drink Mix will help your body absorb and retain fluid for longer.
Fact: Layers are essential in the winter. However, if you sweat and the perspiration stays on or near your body, it will be much more challenging to stay warm. That’s exactly why it’s critical to wear the right apparel in the winter, says Brian Eppley, Senior Director of Apparel and Accessories at ASICS.
“For rigorous activities such as running, hiking, or even shoveling your driveway, having a performance next-to-skin garment, often called a base layer, will wick sweat away from your body,” he says. “That’s the first step to staying warm. Pair that with a breathable outer layer that will allow the water vapor to escape while still keeping the elements out, and you will stay warm and dry all winter.”