Winter is around the corner and it's a love it or hate it situation! Sure, there are pros and cons just like with the other seasons. I mean, who doesn't love cuddling up around the fireplace with a good movie or book, and rediscovering soups? However, winter brings shorter days, cold mornings, dark mornings, and wet weather - no wonder we feel unmotivated to be active and crave comfort foods!
Are you struggling to stay on top of your health, fitness and/or weight loss goals during winter? Don't worry - we have some great tips to help you winter-proof your workouts and stay on track.
Give Your Goals a Fresh Perspective:
- As the weather starts to get warm, start planning your summer holiday and think of ways to stay strong and fit. Keeping these uplifting visions in the forefront of your thoughts will help motivate you even more.
- Take advantage of the cooler months - usually lasting around three to four months - to refresh your goals and spice up your workout routine.
- Consider joining a winter sport. Even though going out in the cold or playing netball or hockey in wet and windy weather may not be very enticing, if you stick to a team sport, your fitness won't suffer too much during the winter season. Moreover, both your physical and mental health will benefit from being part of a sports team.
When the weather is less than pleasant, motivation is key to keep you going during your workout. There are two types of motivation when it comes to sport, health and fitness: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within and forms part of your beliefs, while extrinsic motivation is driven by external sources, such as an upcoming social event, a summer holiday, wedding or following an inspiring athlete on social media.
Talk to yourself and set goals to stay self-motivated. Here's what you can do:
- Make a plan for yourself and set achievable goals—both long-term and short-term. Make sure they are SMART, meaning they should be Specific, measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and timely. Write your goals down somewhere you can access them easily, like in a notebook or app, and look at them often to stay motivated and on track.
- Talking positively to yourself can be a good way to stay motivated and reach your goals—even though it may sound like something out of a madman's manual! Instead of telling yourself you're overweight, not good enough, or won't be able to do something, try recognizing the effort you've put in. For example, if you go jogging instead of walking the same route, or if you lift more than usual, or even just waking up earlier for an exercise session—pat yourself on the back for it! A healthy mindset is key for creating healthy habits.
- Put up inspiring photos, images, or quotes somewhere visible for you to look at regularly. Write down your goals and put them on your fridge (e.g. run 5k, wear a two-piece outfit etc.) so that you'll be reminded of them each day.
Look internally for motivation and use external stimuli as a boost when you don't have the energy, are too sore, too busy, or just don't feel like it; this is what will help you get past those hurdles.
Shorten The Training Time:
With the days getting shorter due to winter, it might seem like there's less and less time to fit in your regular workout. To make up for it, try doing shorter yet more intense workouts! This way, you can squeeze in a morning sweat session before sunrise or an evening one right before the sun sets.
It doesn't matter how long your workout is – it's all about the quality of your training, tailored to what you want to achieve. Incorporate some HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) into your weekly plan; this can be done through cardio or resistance exercises.
- Try mixing up your HIIT routine with some interval workouts for a bit of variety! When using a cardio machine, aim for 30 seconds of high-intensity work followed by two minutes of active recovery. You can adjust the ratio to suit your fitness level.
- For plyometric exercises, use the same principle: work for 20-30 seconds, rest for 60 seconds, and don't exceed 30 minutes with your HIIT session (including your warmup).
Try performing a HIIT session with some added resistance and get creative with your workout! Consider doing supersets or circuit-style methods to maintain the intensity of your session. This will elevate your heart rate and act as a form of weighted HIIT, working muscles in sets, then resting them (like squat to deadlift, push-up to reverse flies). Weighted HIIT training or circuit workouts are valuable for burning fat, growing muscle strength, and toning and shaping your body; it keeps you motivated, prevents boredom and keeps your mind and body active (plus makes for a more enjoyable workout!).
Train From Home:
If you're looking to push yourself to the max, you can do it in the comfort of home with plyometrics, compound exercises and circuit-style exercises. This will give your body the same level of intensity as a fitness class at the gym, while also helping your muscles recover and leaving you with that post-workout afterburn.
Engaging in home workouts is a fantastic way to reach your health and fitness goals while being cost-effective and convenient. When tailored to fit your objectives, winter home workouts can be especially beneficial. Some of the advantages include:
- Doing home workouts has some great benefits: you don't need to put up with the gym "types", you don't have to wait for the gym equipment, you lessen your risk of getting sick from other people's colds, and you get to stay cozy in your own home - especially when it's cold, dark and wet out.
- You a don’t have to pack your gym bag the night before.
- Training at home removes the travel time of going to the gym each day – you can either get a longer session in, or snooze the alarm for a bit.
It doesn't take much to effectively stay in shape at home - bodyweight exercises are more than enough, but if you get yourself a stability ball, resistance bands, TRX suspension trainer, or a pair of dumbbells, you'll have plenty to keep you going during the colder months. To maximize the chances of succeeding in your home workout routine, it's best to designate an area specifically for exercise - whether it be the study, garage, spare room, backyard or a corner of the living room. By having one area that's dedicated to workouts or where all your fitness gear is stored, you'll be much more likely to stay consistent with your at-home training.
Be Prepared And Organised:
No matter when you plan to exercise, it's important you have everything you need prepared the night before. Being organized is crucial for achieving your fitness goals, especially in colder months when it's easier to hit snooze than to do your routine. Plan out your workouts for the week and keep them somewhere visible, like on the fridge or in your diary. You can even watch the weather forecast so you can adjust accordingly; for example, if you had planned to do an outdoor session with a friend but bad weather is predicted, change it up and go to a gym class instead and save the outdoors for a better day.
Have A Back-Up Plan:
If you typically exercise outdoors or live in a region where winters are wet and stormy, it's wise to have a contingency plan. Getting a gym subscription during the colder months is an excellent way to get rid of any excuses when it's raining and windy outside. Or, you could invest in some basic home gym equipment (e.g., fit ball, resistance tubing, weights), download a great fitness app, and commit to exercising at home during winter.
Train With A Friend:
Securing a date and time with an exercise partner makes you more likely to honor that workout. Even if it's cold and gloomy outside, you won't want to disappoint your colleague, so make it a fun and social sweat session, or have someone drive you to the training session as an incentive to get up or off the sofa. Remembering one of the earlier motivation points - teaming up with a friend can also help with that!
Don't neglect your pre- and post-workout nutrition and hydration. If you want to reach your fitness goals, make sure you have an optimal meal before and/or after exercise that includes a protein source. Greek yogurt with berries and oats, a smoothie, omelet, or toast are all great choices. And never forget to bring a water bottle with you when training at home. This winter, don't beat yourself up for things said in the past or workouts missed - just adjust your goals and plan ahead to ensure your outdoor workouts stay on track!