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