Training In The Cold

It 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 should become an annual tradition.

Below are a few pictures from this weekend’s outdoor session.

Training in the cold

You can also see a brief video from the Instagram link below (which only allows 15 second clips).

Winter Training

It was great to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

Hill sprints in the snow have always been a favorite of mine. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more intense and effective lower body conditioner. Both the snow and the heavier boots provide a unique challenge. I also continue to make use of the outdoor pull-up bar, sledgehammer station, and a variety of odd objects such as heavy logs and stones.

I’ve always viewed outdoor Rocky-style workouts as a welcome slap in the face to the fitness industry. My outdoor sessions are as brutal as anything I ever do indoors. Yesterday’s outdoor workout was by far one of the most intense days I’ve had in a long time. The possibilities are literally endless and you will never outgrow the challenge.

I also enjoy the simple fact that most people don’t go outside in the cold. Some may call me crazy, but I enjoy the mental aspects of cold weather training. I welcome the opportunity to do things that others won’t. Regardless of the weather, I control my circumstances. I am not dependent on anyone or anything.

As for training in the cold, I often receive questions about the ideal approach. Perhaps the most important consideration is proper clothing.

As stated by one Canadian reader of the site,

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

And while there certainly are exceptions to this statement, such words ring true more often than not.

You must dress properly to train in the cold. It’s vital that you keep the hands, head, and feet warm. Personally, I opt for waterproofed boots, gloves, and a winter hat. I also wear a ski mask if the wind is strong and always dress in layers. I prefer to wear three layers. The first layer is for wicking, the second for insulating, and the third for external protection.

The wicking layer should help keep moisture away from the skin. The insulating layer (ex. sweatshirt) is designed to keep the heat in and the cold out. The protective layer serves as a guard against the elements. It should help to block wind and repel precipitation.

As for workout duration, I always opt for an hour or less. My outdoor sessions are based on intensity. Regardless of how comfortable I feel in the cold, I understand the potential dangers that exist from being there too long. I need to keep myself in check as once I’m in the zone, I feel as though I could stay there all day. I’m not a big fan of logic when I’m in the middle of a workout. As a result, I force myself to wear a stop-watch and pay close attention to time.

As for frequency, I don’t get outside every day. I strive for at least one or two outdoor sessions a week. I follow this approach 52 weeks a year, whether it is hot and humid or freezing cold. These sessions are also somewhat of a mixed bag. I’m not focused on pure strength or pure conditioning. The outdoor sessions are well-rounded with a broad emphasis that targets multiple objectives.  I always mix in hill sprints, a few bodyweight exercises, and at least one odd object lift or carry.

As for additional examples, Rocky 4 was just a movie, but that doesn’t diminish the sheer awesomeness of the cold weather training that was filmed throughout.

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“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

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16 comments:

  1. Oh yeah. Winter’s the best time for working out in playgrounds because you get the place to yourself. One nice pair of warm, waterproof gloves and I’m set.

  2. This post is awesome for the sheer fact you included the Rocky 4 montage.

    That movie and scene is a big reason why i train 😉

  3. That’s one of the best inspirational scenes in movie history.

    Ross-
    Why do the all the Italians know boxing so well (D’Amato, Marciano, Enamait, etc.)???

    And like I said before, man I’m hoping you get a real talented kid- I don’t think I know you can make him World Champion.

    And I bought your Boxing Book you made around the Underground Guide to Warrior Fitness and you mentioned a PDF file you had with the order anot Secrets From Cuban boxing or Cuban Trainin methods. Can you please make that available???

    I know a few Cubans and they all work hard and smart. No half assing around with them or the Italians. Good people and much live from me to them.

  4. Ross – you’re a true badass. Just love it.

    Actually I prefer to train outside in the winter more than in the summer. There’s a unique feeling to it, which makes you go that much harder.
    Cheers

  5. Training on the snow is fun and the cold air feels great over the fresh snow.
    But i don’t like training in cold weather in general. Without snow it is no fun for me. For example running on a cold,windy day sucks.Or when the soil and the ground in general is frozen i don’t even like to go out.

  6. Stallone and those “Rocky” movies inspired millions of people to workout. Stallone was ahead of his time by depicting a “reel” version of a giant Eastern European to takeover heavyweight boxing. Rocky IV was made in 1985, which was quite awhile before a couple giant Ukrainian brothers would start to dominate heavyweight boxing in “real” life. Russian Greco-Roman wrestler, Aleksandr Karelin, would run in thigh deep snow during his training runs. Karelin is considered by some as the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all-time. So many of those “old school” boxers used to chop down trees which I also see Stallone doing in the training clip from Rocky IV.

  7. Hi Ross,

    Any advice you can give me for my predicament?

    I usually love training outside in the cold (mostly due to the rocky 4 vid as well as the cold crisp fresh air!!!) but i’m having to spend the next 6 weeks in China and as you know the smog levels there are horrendously bad lately. Would you still train outside? or only indoors in this environment? (hard to find places to do proper sprints and jumps indoors)

    1. Hard to say Jangez, there are mixed opinions on training in such environments. Some say the good outweighs the bad, while others recommend entirely against it. I’m fortunate that I don’t live in that type of environment so I’ve never been forced to decide for myself. Personally though, I would likely opt for indoor work. Six weeks isn’t a long time and there’s plenty that can be done indoors.

  8. Concerning training in China; I have spent quite a bit of time in Shanghai. You can definitely train outside as much as you want. Summer is worse than winter for air quality and early mornings are better, probably similar in most places. Good luck!

  9. Concerning training in China; I have spent quite a bit of time in Shanghai over the past few years. You can train outside as much as you wish. Winter is better than summer and mornings are better than later in the day for air quality, probably similar to most places. Good luck!

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