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Winter Training

As a life long New England resident, I am no stranger to snow. A winter does not pass without several snow storms hitting the area. Fortunately, my kids love playing in it so I always welcome the snow. Whether we are sledding, building a snowman, or having a snowball fight, it’s always a good time with the family.

Earlier this week, I was happy to see fresh snow falling just as I opened the gym. Before we started lifting, I opened  the garage doors to enjoy the scenery and fresh winter air. I always enjoy watching the snow come down.

Before we started lifting though, I made a quick post to Twitter.

I don’t take Twitter too seriously so I didn’t think anything of it. Monday is always a busy day for me so I didn’t check my email until later that evening. Upon that time, I was welcomed to a nasty response to my tweet. An individual wrote to me stating that it was irresponsible to encourage others to train in the cold. They rambled on about the increased potential for injury and how the body isn’t designed to exert itself in the cold.

Ironically, shortly after reading the email, I noticed that a friend of mine had shared the following video on Facebook.

Within minutes, I had witnessed two extremes. One person wasted his time by writing about the dangers of winter training. Meanwhile, the man in the video was busy lifting big weights in the cold. He didn’t have time to worry about what everyone else was doing.  He was too busy pursuing his own goals.

My interactions and observations that day confirmed what I already knew. There are different types of people in the world. Certain people have an excuse for everything, which is why they typically do nothing. They justify their inaction by citing excuse after excuse. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. It’s too dangerous. It’s always one thing or another.

Other people don’t care if it is hot or cold. They find a way to get things done. I train outside in a garage 52 weeks a year. The winters are cold and the summers are hot. At this time of year, water bottles will freeze solid if left overnight. Yet, in a few months, it will be hot and humid inside the gym. You’ll find yourself soaked in sweat by just standing still. There are no air conditioners here. You either suck it up or you go somewhere else.

I don’t control the temperature. I don’t care if it’s hot. I don’t care if it’s cold. I don’t care if I didn’t sleep well the night before. I have things that I need to get done so I attack each day with determination and drive.

That’s life. We don’t live in a perfect world. Either adapt or succumb to your surroundings. The human body isn’t as fragile as many believe. It is designed to move. We can adapt to the cold and we can adapt to the heat. The weak make excuses. The strong find a way.

Which side are you on?

+++++

Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.

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44 comments

44 Comments so far

  1. Frank January 30th, 2013 7:21 am

    Ross, you are right on track!
    The time that guy spent whining, he could probably have worked out :-)
    I live in Florida & people whine that it’s too hot.
    If they are looking for an excuse , any will do.
    That is why most do nothing!
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Nails January 30th, 2013 7:32 am

    So very true. I also train in a garage outside but in (old) England. Winter is cold summer is hot but last time I checked that’s how it s meant to work. When people constantly find excuses it tells you all you need to know about that person. Some people have no drive and thus see no results, not just in training but across all aspects of their lives.

  3. Romi January 30th, 2013 7:32 am

    Ross, just a simple sentence, the weak try to make the strong ones look bad, just to feel less guilty, but it always ends up in their own face…and for every person that disrespects you, there are a million others who adore you and you are an inspiration for them, everyday!

  4. Wolf January 30th, 2013 7:33 am

    You’re so right!
    I love riding my bike to University, even in winter when it’s icy, because for me these is the right mindset for a winner. You can’t win something by whining and pointing at all the things that go wrong. Just give your best all the time and you WILL get what you deserve!

  5. jankka January 30th, 2013 7:41 am

    Hi!
    Thanks for this :D This encourages me to continue with my outdoor gym. Currently it is only 2 concrete blocks surrounded by 20 inches of snow and a barbell in between, approx 200 pounds to lift. A great resource for intense workouts e.g. like following:
    15 deadlifts
    15 burpees
    1 km running
    repeated 3 times
    Some pictures can be found here
    https://picasaweb.google.com/107463616953815483068/OutdoorGym

  6. Mike Lewis January 30th, 2013 7:43 am

    I’m with you. I’m an old fart (66) so I can say this. You don’t need to be comfortable in order to survive. You can work out even if it is uncomfortable. That’s my way of telling you to NOT get addicted to comfort. Hot or cold, wet or dry get out and do it. Just don’t leave your brain behind.

  7. Cade January 30th, 2013 7:44 am

    Working out in extreme heat or cold is not ideal for me personally, but here in northern Utah, we know cold and snow. My garage is not well insulated and a couple of weeks ago the high was 9 or 10 and the low was negative that. So, with cardio first thing in the morning, it was a real wake up call, but you sack up and do it anyway.

  8. Michael Yuri January 30th, 2013 7:45 am

    I think this post calls for a Rocky montage:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu00RiPjaa4

  9. Jas Bhabra January 30th, 2013 8:20 am

    Ross – I couldn’t have put it better myself – well said. You and your site are inspirational. I always put people onto you and your site when they talk of expensive gym fees, no time to train. I do tabata training, crossfit, spartan. Functional, bodyweight and heavy. We’re training with guys half our age. Our training group has guys of different ages and backgrounds – football, rugby, boxing, MMA. We all train short and intense and no-nonsense. We all LOVE to train, no egos there, good guys sharing ideas and encouragement. We need guys like you to show us the PROPER TRAINING PATH & ATTITUDE. Well done and keep the POSITIVITY and ignore the negative guys. You’re putting out great things and everything always comes back in the end, I believe this and in karma.KEEP SHINING BRIGHT and thanks for sharing (No one ever got poor by sharing – Ann Frank)

  10. John Sullivan January 30th, 2013 8:58 am

    The only good excuse I have for not working out in my garage is that its too full of crap!!! If I could swing it, I’d rather have an extra 2 stall and put ALL of my workout gear out there. But as far as snow goes (I live in Iowa so I know well enough), get rid of your snowblower. Shoveling is as good a workout as any.

  11. DirtyBurt January 30th, 2013 9:11 am

    Exactly, dress warmly, lift big things.

  12. Craig January 30th, 2013 9:37 am

    @Michael Yuri – YESSSS!!!!!!

    I’m from Minnesota, and a x-country skier so the idea that someone would use snow and cold as an excuse to not work out is beyond me. We used to look forward to the snow so we could work out. I know what you are saying about the crisp air and the beauty of everything blanketed in snow. I love it!

    I’ve always also pictured legendary wrestler Alexander Karelin running through massive snowbanks in Siberia as sort of a training ideal in my mind. Man vs Nature just seems such a pure battle in forging yourself.

  13. colin January 30th, 2013 10:28 am

    My friends and i go with the thinking of train unless its to dangerous (blizzards, hurricanes etc) if its windy, sprint into the wind. if its cold, dress appropriately and try no to stay still and exposed for too long, if its hot, hydrate and sun tan lotion. if you know your limits then go for it and push them hard. keep up the awesome work

  14. SISU January 30th, 2013 10:37 am

    Not much to add to what’s already been said here. This twitter guy is simply wrong.
    Talking about snow, rolling a huge snowball is a great exercise!

    Just saw this, Ross and everyone else, please check it out(serious squat training, no wraps, no belt):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYScDcm9qBI

  15. Pete Davis January 30th, 2013 12:01 pm

    Love it, man. I love running hill sprints in the freezing cold. And while I train at a gym, when I get one of the rooms to myself, I crank up the heat, just to add another layer of difficulty.

    We’re there to work, to get better, to become more. You can’t get there by sitting on your ass and bitching how hard it is. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s the hard that makes it great.

  16. Eric January 30th, 2013 2:16 pm

    Great article and a great quote to go with it!!! Personally I can deal with training in the cold better, especially when running, but like you say there are NEVER “ideal” conditions in training or in life.

  17. Ryan Lee January 30th, 2013 3:05 pm

    We’re in Steamboat Springs, CO. If you can’t workout in the cold, you don’t workout. Put the skirt away and put on a pair of gloves and a beanie. The cold is just another lame excuse to not train and we all know excuses are just little lies we tell ourselves. You’re always an inspiration Ross!

  18. Artur J January 30th, 2013 10:13 pm

    Couldn’t agree more!!
    Traded the gym for my garage about a year ago and will never look back!! Coldest day working out this winter so far was -11F. Took a bit longer to get warm but loved it…

    As for the guy, this quote is pretty fitting:

    “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

  19. Todd Matheson January 31st, 2013 9:02 am

    I”m with Ross. I live in Northern Alberta and I run outside all winter. People who make excuses for not exercising typically aren’t into working out in the first place. So if it’s not the weather, it’s time or the kids and on and on it goes.

  20. Matt January 31st, 2013 10:17 am

    Its all about the right clothes, I kayak all year round, if I waited for decent weather here in the UK, I would train one Month per year!

    Spot on as ever Ross.

    Cheers

  21. Dan January 31st, 2013 12:00 pm

    Great post as always. Very true about excuses – some people will always look for them no matter what. I’m up in Ottawa, the second coldest national capital in the world next to Ulanbaatur. Snow and cold is just a way of life for much of the year. Last week it was -40 celsius with the wind and I was still out in my garage doing squats. Couldn’t feel my toes by the end, but got through fine (even a PR in there). Before I had the garage, I had a set-up in my driveway, much like your friend in the video. It’s beautiful to work out under the stars on a winter night. Actually, just finished some ring muscle-ups on a tree over my lunch break, and it was damn cold today too. People need to suck it up. If you never train in extremes, how do you know how your body will function should you actually have to ‘perform’ in extremes (assuming preparedness is at least some element of why we exercise). “I bench 300 in the gym but sorry I can’t help push your car out of the snowbank because it’s cold out and I might injure myself”. What a joke.

  22. John Cintron January 31st, 2013 12:08 pm

    Here are twi videos of my training this year it was not snowing but it was cold my gym is my yard.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNhYOGaMO2I

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhN_9Cm_G50

  23. Dustin January 31st, 2013 1:35 pm

    I absolutely love your take on life!! I have heard every excuse on the planet except a good one!!! I wake up every morning at 5:00 regardless of how tired I am or am not to do HIIT training or road work. Ultimately, I try to conquer as much of the world as I can before I do my 90 minute commute to work, put in a 10.5 hour day and then do my commute home only to do weights or go train with my team. It’s all about getting things done. Did I mention I am also a father, a student and I’m 35 years old? If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s all about sacrifice. God bless ya Ross and all the rest of you that put it all on the line each and everyday to achieve your goals.

  24. Eric January 31st, 2013 1:36 pm

    Hell Yeah!

  25. James January 31st, 2013 2:33 pm

    We had snow in the uk recently, i was in the garden doing barbell presses and kettlebell swings……why waste time, it was fun, and the neighbours laughed their butts off ;0)

    “Everything” seems to be bad for us, so lets make our own decission and enjoy training / life!

  26. Hop January 31st, 2013 5:05 pm

    The only thing I guess I don’t completely like about this otherwise really good post is the whole “false dichotomy” mentality. I’m not saying that Mr. Enamait actually has it (I don’t know), but sometimes one might get the impression that there are only two approaches: 1) the legitimate one where any reason a person has for not working out like an animal is automatically rejected (including, for example, an injury), and 2) the sissy approach, where a person never does a thing b/c they’re full of cowardly bologna.

    Sometimes I feel that a reality somewhere in between — where quite a few folks find themselves — is rarely addressed, giving the impression that it too is really just a niche for second-raters or even losers.

  27. admin January 31st, 2013 5:20 pm

    Let’s not beat around the bush or fly off on a tangent. It’s really not that complicated (and has nothing to do with injury).

    If a person constantly creates excuses (ie. it’s too cold), they don’t want it very bad. Let’s call a spade a spade, rather than creating more excuses for those who already live in a world of excuses.

    I don’t care what happens to me or how I feel. If there is something that I want to accomplish, I’ll do whatever is necessary to get it done. Always have and always will.

  28. Hop January 31st, 2013 9:40 pm

    Don’t know if “admin” always means Ross or if it’s someone else, but no matter … respectfully (and I mean that most sincerely), the post above, apparently in response to mine, only underscores exactly the point I was seeking to make, which is kind of disappointing. I wasn’t addressing the sort who “always creates excuses” at all, and I hoped that was clear. Obviously we all agree about that. I’m not even sure what “I don’t care what happens to me” means exactly, but probably something like “I’m crazy-committed” — and I feel like we’ve come full circle.

    Didn’t mean to broach an unwelcome angle, but felt (and feel) I had a valid point. Perhaps the wrong time & place to introduce it. (?)

  29. admin February 1st, 2013 5:17 am

    I respect your opinion as well. There are no unwelcome angles. I’m just of the belief that if someone wants something, they will figure out a way to get it done.

    With that said, different people obviously have different goals, priorities, etc. It’s not for me to choose what others are supposed to want. It’s an individual choice. I’m simply sharing my opinion and that which I preach to the athletes I train.

  30. Andrew V February 1st, 2013 6:46 am

    The only thing that I can add is that if you are not the most motivated person in the world then you should recognize that and figure out how to get motivated and perhaps find someone who is and learn from them.

  31. Per February 1st, 2013 6:49 am

    You and your friend have remembered that we live in the real world, thus you live and more specifically train in the real world. Others, like your commenter, live in a superficial world and can only live and survive there. Soon you will see comments from people only living in a virtual world, where they are training in their comfortable virtual gym.

  32. Jason G February 1st, 2013 9:13 am

    While the mind is busy making excuses the body is finding solutions.

    Jason Gardiner

  33. Mar February 1st, 2013 5:46 pm

    Ross is so right the weak always are making a excuse that’s why they are weak, No Pain No Gain. Ross is an incredible trainer and has a vast wealth of knowledge in the sports training field and the information he provides for us is as good as it gets anywhere in the world, Thanks Ross

  34. Hop February 2nd, 2013 7:33 am

    1) Ross, you have my abiding admiration for having put forth such resolve and determination (pertaining to your goals) in your approach to living life — for many consistent years now. Those few who practice a level of discipline like yours (like the Army ranger/green beret who lives two houses down from me) have my deep respect. I hope you’ll believe that — and I think you do.

    2) I also admire you for other reasons — for example, many of your insights and perspectives regarding the world of physical training are tremendous. That’s why I’m here. Solid wisdom in a realm that really needs it!

    3) Unlike some whose mentality seems only to be to ‘foot-lick the guru’, I do try to approach what I read with a mind that brings along its appropriate questions. That’s all I meant. (I’m not saying you thought otherwise.) Every now & then someone is just mouthy and disrespectful.

    4) I thought that last little paragraph you typed in your most recent post (the one that started with “With that said …”) was fantastic — an excellent footnote of clarification. Thank you.

    5) Per’s judgment of me living in a “superficial world” is unfair, laughable, and (ironically) superficial! I’d like to see how well he would do with my set of ‘superficial’ life-circumstances.

    6) I’ll try not to become a focal point in a discussion like this in the future, and didn’t this time. It is true, though, that my thoughts don’t always fall in line like dominoes as readily as most do. :)

    God bless, Hop

  35. Eric February 2nd, 2013 4:17 pm

    I think it comes down to people trying to impose their wills, jealousies, or hang-ups on other people. If someone wants to workout stark naked in some stream in Alaska infested with Kodiak bears, well so be it, it’s their life and who I am to tell them how to live it. Does a middle age, father of three, need to spend 4 hours a day training balls to the walls to maintain his fitness goals? I wouldn’t think so but unless his kids or starving because his workouts cause him to be unemployed who am I to question his motivations. Certainly anyone who wishes to COMPETE in any sport or physical challenge can’t train like a weekend warrior and expect successful results. Time and time again it has been proven that in sports many times fitness and will trump talent. So if you limit yourself then expect to have limited results.

  36. Bjoern February 4th, 2013 9:04 am

    I live in the north of sweden well above the artic circle. If u can`t stand a little bit of cold u can´t run outside for 6 six month. Had a hillsprint session last night, the temp was -15 C about 5 Farenheit. And i´m still around to write about it!!

  37. Shock February 23rd, 2013 3:33 am

    I agree and then disagree, during some military training 3 years ago in the Marine Corps. I caught pneumonia from dehydration in the cold. I was training in Camp Pendleton during the month of february and me being from Chicago, there were things I would not do even in 30 degree weather, which is warm. I neglected my condition thinking I could hack it and man up. It backfired on me and I had to start the training all over again, wasting time. It sucked dick, being in the hospital for almost a month does more to your conditioning than you think; you lose a lot!
    If you have an opportunity to fight, be elite somehow, get the scholarship for college in a sport, etc, take no chances/risks. Train in cold/hot environs when you have nothing to lose immediately and can handle a set back not when its crunch time and your game face needs to be on.

    As they say train smart…but when it is time to go hard then do it; but not to risk yourself in the goals you are preparing for.

  38. Henry-Qc March 16th, 2013 7:44 am

    Training in the cold can only make you stronger. For example, I’ve been riding my mountain bike all the winter (first time winter biking) and when the temperature go down below -20,-30,-40 I were still warm. I’m used to do like 15-25kms/day to go work and do all of my activities and I never catch a cold or any viruses unlike the other years when I used my car ;)

    Another example: All the time I were pushing my way throught winter trained me, now the snow melted and I’m doing better time to get to work than the last year!!
    Last year: ~15mins/8kms
    Now : ~13:30m

    N.b. Plus boxing training everyday (or almost)

  39. John December 1st, 2013 9:56 am

    Watching the snow blanket the ground whilst working out with the fresh crisp air sounds lovely to me. I just wish it snowed here in England a bit more, there’s something quite therapeutic about getting out in it…although I’ve not always been keen on the bear crawls so it does tend to require a bit of a self persuasion but I get there in the end. I digress though, training in or exposed to the elements is awesome…the sun, the snow, the rain and wind is exactly what the body is designed for. With that said safety is very important so just be careful.

  40. Rajiv December 1st, 2013 10:14 am

    Just don’t warm up and go out sweaty without covering up or you get get a real chill. Nobody wants a cold or sore throat so pay particular attention to covering your head and neck. Same goes for going from hot to a cold air conditioned room in the summer.

  41. daniel vincenzo December 1st, 2013 2:09 pm

    I also train in a garage in CT. I did cleans and deadlifts today, it was very, very cold in there. I was scheduled to pull 90% for amap. I did that, setting a new PR. Was very happy. Did I mention it was pretty cold?

  42. John Hislop December 3rd, 2013 5:02 am

    I live in Nova Scotia and train in my garage(usually around 5am). Occasionally the temp will drop to -30C(-20ish F)and I end up working out by flashlight because it’s too cold for my fluorescent lights too turn on. It’s all part of the game. I work out because I enjoy it and it’s fun. Hats and hoodies are the workout gear of the season (and gloves so you don’t stick to the bars.) If you love something don’t make excuses just get it done.

  43. RossTraining.com Blog December 16th, 2013 9:53 am

    [...] was around this time last year that I wrote about winter training. I still receive many questions about cold weather exercise however so perhaps blogging about it [...]

  44. JB November 6th, 2014 2:44 am

    I just love all the optimism in this website! As a study abroad student living in Beijing, I have been exploring new ways to workout anywhere outside.

    Winter will be coming and the pollution will still be lurking outside but this is not going to stop me moving.
    If it is cold, I will prepare myself with more clothes. If the pollution levels are bad, I will work out inside;)

    Thanks for Ross and the guys on the forum for reminding us that even though life can be a challenge, we can achieve things if we believe in it!

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