Winter Calisthenics

Winter rope climbing

In recent weeks, I have shared many stories about training outside in the winter. Whether on this blog or social media sites like Facebook, I’ve discussed several options that exist regardless of the weather. As for the motive behind these posts, there is no hidden agenda. I don’t sell winter clothes and don’t own stock from any winter gear suppliers. My goal is to simply get people moving and eliminate the excuses that have been used before.

Unfortunately, whenever I share an outdoor story, I’m met with new excuses. For example, when I wrote about sprinting hills in the snow, I heard complaints from people who don’t have snow or hills or both. When I wrote about lifting odd objects, I heard complaints from people who don’t have anything to lift. When I wrote about winter training last year, I received emails about the man seen in the video below. There were negative comments about rusty weights, the power rack, safety, and more.

I wonder if the negative comments come from fitness pros who fear people training alone without paying for their services. I can’t understand who else would feel so strongly against training outside. Or are there really that many haters with nothing else to do? Regardless of the answer, I won’t lose sleep thinking about it.

Rather than succumb to the haters, I’d rather share another example of outdoor training in the snow. The video below comes from the arctic lands of Greenland. What you’ll see throughout is a man who does not allow the harsh elements to interfere with his training. He doesn’t make excuses about the snow, wind, and freezing temperatures. Instead, he continues to follow his passion and perform a variety of calisthenics.

The bulk of his training could be performed almost anywhere. The world is certainly his gym. He is quite creative in terms of finding areas to train. For example, look where he performs pull-ups at the 2:35 mark. No one told him that was a pull-up bar. He used his imagination and created an opportunity.

Much can be said of that simple example. Many people today wish to be spoon fed answers and routines. The ability to think outside the box and remain creative has become a rarity. So many adults seem to have lost the creativity that they possessed as children. If they can’t copy what is written exactly, they become stuck in a rut and often opt to do nothing. I hear from these people all the time and always encourage them to stop trying to copy me or anyone. For example, if I discuss hill sprints and you don’t have a hill to sprint, there is no need to panic. You can still figure something out. Running on flat ground would certainly be an option.

I don’t write about exercises or routines in hopes of creating an army of followers. Instead, I am providing ideas in hopes of getting you to think for yourself. There is always something that can be done. Whenever I’m outside, I look for opportunities to move. I’ve exercised outside in different states and countries and I always find something to do.

I may be in my late 30s, but when it comes to training outside, I try to think like a kid. When I was a child, we went outside and figured out things to do. We could make a game out of anything or nothing. My kids are the same way. I don’t need to give them ideas about what to do. Once they are outside, they’ll either find something or make something up. And it is that creativity that we should all cherish throughout life. It doesn’t need to expire simply because we’ve grown older.

In summary, you certainly don’t need to train outside, but the opportunity is often available. And whether inside or outside, I encourage you to remain creative. Exercise does not need to be a boring, monotonous task. I guarantee that the man who is exercising in Greenland enjoys what he is doing. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be out there in the freezing temps. He keeps his works fun, varied, and creative. We can all learn and borrow from his example. There is always something that can be done regardless of what you have and where you are.


“There aren’t nearly enough crutches in the world for all the lame excuses.” – Marcus Stroup


  1. So Ross-
    Are beginners like me better suited doing a body weight routine to build muscular endurance and core strength before messing with heavy barbells and compound lifts?

  2. Love these recent entries calling for simplicity and creativity! Certainly motivating and eye opening, realizing you don’t need the space age fitness industry gadgets. Keep it up Ross!

  3. @Jerry
    Resistance is resistance, whether it comes from your body or iron plates. Start, start slow and don’t give up! Just my 2 cents…

    Thanks Ross for sharing this!

  4. Everyone will find an excuse its to cold , hot, rain or snow. I don’t have the luxury to train indoors. I train no matter what the weather is on the day it may fall. I sometimes go inside. I once did a session were the clouds were turning black and before i knew it I was getting thunder and rain coming down on me. I just continued until it was done. Was it fun not really but I just needed to get through the workout. People will look at someone and see there results and first question is are you natural or do you take anything not realizing all the work you need to put in to get results its not the supplements or the equipment you use the gives results. Its what you do with what you have.

  5. I recently did pistols out in the snow because I wanted to. The fresh, cold air makes a workout like that more enjoyable outside than inside.

  6. This will probably sound lame to other people. But one of the best workouts i look forward to is in winter.

    Wait for it to snow, a snow that you can pack. Find yourself a good area, and start rolling a snowball.

    As you roll the snowball, it gets bigger and bigger. Sooner or later the snowball will become too big for you to be able to push.

    Brownie points you get to make a giant snowman.

  7. Ross,
    I love your website.
    Wondering if you could email me with
    an answer to a question I have.
    How long will it take me realisticly
    to train and run a mile and half in 11 minutes.
    I haven’t run in 17 and a half years. It’s been
    a very long time. I want to get back in Great
    shape as I used to be. Time to reclaim myself.
    Thanks very much, Dana

    1. @Dana – Don’t put a time limit on your return to action. It is impossible to predict how long it will take. All that matters is that you begin. Take it one day at a time. The results will come eventually as long as you remain consistent and diligent. That’s all anyone could ever ask.

  8. I have always trained outside– rain or shine, winter or summer, in the snow or on a sandy beach. It’s simple, you just dress for the weather and get out there and do it. I don’t get why it seems like a big deal to some people, let alone those who think Ross is “crazy or weird” for suggesting such a thing. People have trained in the outdoors for only, well, since there were people. You think that some of the great armies of history waited until they were wintering in Ibiza to keep soldiers fit? I remember running up 5th Ave in Manhattan in pouring rain, about 12 miles. I was having a great time, but people looked at me like I was insane. I do bodyweight cals and kettlebells, sandbags, whatever in the parks. Use what you have, where you are and just do it. When we were kids we played for hours in the snow. How is working out in the snow any different?
    Try it, you might even really enjoy it. It’s fun and exhilarating. Ha, so there’s my rant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *