Winter can wreak havoc on our weight-loss or maintenance goals. Temperatures dip into the single digits making outdoor workouts less than desirable, and diets shift from green smoothies to heavy soups and holiday treats. It’s nearly impossible to stay on track.
In short, the season makes packing on the pounds all too easy. “Staying fit in the winter definitely takes more motivation,” says Michelle Gabriele, an ACE-certified personal trainer with more than 20 years of fitness experience. “Mornings are dark and cold and, of course, the afternoons get dark much earlier, too.”
But staying in shape this winter is possible if you incorporate a few, or all, of these ideas:
1. STEP ON A SCALE
You might want to consider adding a bathroom scale to your home. In a study published in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, researchers at Drexel University found that people who weighed themselves daily noticed significant declines in body fat percentage and body mass index over time, even when not enrolled in any type of weight-loss program.
2. ADD DIVERSITY TO YOUR WORKOUTS
Whether you workout at home or at the gym, try mixing things up, according to Allison Jackson, NASM certified personal trainer. “I like to write a bunch of different, individual exercises (e.g., squats, burpees, pushups) on popsicle sticks, mix them up and pick one to do for 30–60 seconds,” she says.
If you are gym member, Pam Sherman, certified personal trainer of 21 years, recommends trying new classes. “Having someone else tell you what to do is an easy way to stay fit and get a lot of variety in your schedule.” Innovative, in-demand classes for 2017 include Pound, a cardio workout that uses weighted drumsticks to sculpt your arms; rowing, dubbed the “new spinning”; and Zumba step, an integration of the old-fashioned step aerobics with the popular Zumba workouts.
3. DO BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES DURING COMMERCIALS
Pick your favorite television show or a football game, and watch it in your workout gear. “During the commercial breaks, rotate between planks, pushups, air squats and lunges,” says Xiao Wang, NASM-certified trainer, Kona Ironman qualifier and survivor of training through Boston winters.
4. TRAIN FOR A SPRINGTIME RACE
Register for a spring race, and then spend time crafting your training schedule, rather than simply downloading a pre-made calendar or paying for a coach to write one up. Why? You might stick to the schedule better — even when working out through the winter doldrums. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers suggest that athletes who put forth effort into planning their training were likely to experience less effect from the discouraging factors that impact performance.
By participating in the schedule-creation experience, you can make your training entertaining. “Sign up for some holiday races,” says Martise Moore, running coach and founder of GreenRunner. “The fun and accomplishment you’ll enjoy along the way will warm you up and keep you in shape.”
5. SWITCH UP TRADITIONAL WEIGHTLIFTING TECHNIQUES
“Kettlebell swings are a fantastic off-season training tool that helps engage so many posterior muscles that have the tendency to not properly activate during endurance sports,” says Mike Klaus, Russian Kettlebell Certification Level II trainer at Forward Fitness.
The research on kettlebell training agrees with Klaus. In a study from the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, data suggests that kettlebells might serve as an effective alternative tool to improve performance in weightlifting.
READ MORE > THE 30-DAY PLAN TO TONED ARMS
6. GET OUTSIDE
When running, snowshoeing or hiking in the snow, you receive the benefits of vitamin D, which can lift your spirits after spending all day indoors. The activity also burns more calories, as you need to lift your knees higher than you would on a treadmill.
Just make sure you wear the appropriate clothes. “You have got to dress yourself like it is 10 degrees warmer [than what it is outside],” says Gabrielle Bolin, ACE certified personal trainer. “Although you might be chilly as you leave the house, right around the first mile mark, your body temperature will have increased enough to initiate sweating, which will warm you from the inside out.”