The Best Workout Plan For Winter
Updated: Jan 22
When the weather turns chilly and the days get shorter, it can be hard to keep doing your warm weather fitness routine. Finding the motivation to set an early alarm for your morning walk or run can be a big challenge when the sidewalks are icy. And with the sun setting before dinner, your evening routine can be disrupted as well.
But, if you don't keep up your fitness routine during the winter, you'll be starting all over again getting yourself back to the same level of fitness when the nicer weather returns. Consistency is your best friend when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. So, what are some of the best ways you can keep up with your fitness routine in the winter months?
Find a Winter Sport You Love
Not all winter days are made for binging your favorite streaming series while drinking hot cocoa on the couch (even though that does sound pretty great!). There's nothing like getting out and exploring when the sun is shining. Plus, once you get moving, you'll warm up quickly!
Some of the most fun winter sports you can take advantage of during the snowy months are just as effective as hitting the gym. These full body workouts target major muscle groups and will put your cardio endurance to the test.
“Cross-country skiing recruits your legs, quads, and glutes," says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts. "And because you’re pushing off the ground with each step, you’re using the abductors on your outer thighs, too, which you wouldn’t work running or riding a bike. You’re also working your shoulders, triceps, biceps, and upper back by using the poles to help you propel forward.”
A huge benefit to cross-country skiing is that it is a low-impact activity so the impact on your joints is less than many other sports. If you have arthritis or other joint issues, cross-country skiing is a great option. It is also a great choice if you want to improve their balance -- the weight shift and diagonal stride movements help increase balance.
Cross-country skiing is a great alternative to downhill skiing, especially if you like a more backcountry experience. While the equipment is definitely an investment, your skis will last you for many seasons.
Ice skating is another winter sport that is a full-body workout. It works every major muscle group with a focus on the lower body and core muscles. And, like cross-country skiing, ice skating is a low-impact activity (unless you're jumping and spinning) so it doesn't put stress on your joints.
“When you ice skate, your power comes from glutes,” says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness in New York City. “Each time you push off one foot, you go into hip extension and the glutes are the main driver there." He also points out that ice skating works the adductors and abductors in your legs, "which are very important during the propulsion of the movement, as your legs move away from and then return to the center of your body.”
Like cross-country skiing and ice skating, snowshoeing is a great addition to a winter workout plan for people looking for a low-impact winter exercise activity that doesn't stress their joints. Out on the trails, the snow provides a buffer for your joints.
Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. points out that when you're snowshoeing, each step has you working against the resistance from the snow to pull your foot up, so you are working your hip flexors and hip muscles. “Because snowshoes are wider than normal shoes, your stance will naturally be a bit wider, so you’ll also be firing up your thighs a lot,” he says. “This is particularly a lower-body exercise that works the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.”
When you find a winter sport that's both fun and challenging, it makes winter fitness something to look forward to, and that's the best way to ensure you'll want to keep doing it all season long.
Take Your Workout Indoors
For some people, outdoor workouts during the winter just aren't a possibility. If that's you, don't worry -- there are plenty of indoor workout options to get you through the cold months.
Hit The Pool
If immersing yourself in warm water during the winter sounds relaxing, try indoor swimming. Hitting the pool for some laps or an aquacise class is a great cardio workout. In fact, swimming is one of the best sports for a long and healthy life. Regardless of your preferred swimming stroke, you'll get a full-body working when you hit the pool because swimming uses all of the muscles in your body.
And, if you're recovering from some types of injuries or just want to add a low-impact activity to your winter workout plan, swimming is a great option since water supports up to 90% of your body weight.
Some pool exercises you may want to try include:
Lateral arm lifts with dumbbells
Indoor rock climbing gyms have become very popular in the last decade, so there's probably a one near you. Scaling a wall is a great activity to add to your winter fitness plan because while you're scaling the wall, you're engaging in a true full-body exercise. Climbing a rock wall gives not only your biceps, triceps and deltoids a workout, but it also calls on your abdominals, obliques, glutes, thighs, calves, and more.
“You build a lot of upper-body strength when you climb, especially in the hands and fingers,” said Zack DiCristino, physical therapist and medical manager for USA Climbing's national team. “But a lot of people don’t realize that if you’re using proper technique, your lower body gets quite a workout, too, with all of the squatting and jumping.”
Hitting an indoor rock climbing gym this winter can also help get your heart pumping, increasing your cardiorespiratory fitness, while the variety of unusual positions you'll need to contort your body into as you're grabbing handholds and footholds helps improve your balance and flexibility.
Workout With A Personal Trainer
As you're planning your winter fitness routine, consider adding a personal trainer to your plan. Working with a certified personal trainer is a great way to keep your fitness routine fresh and challenging. A personal trainer will keep you motivated and accountable during the long, cold, dark winter months.
Another big benefit of working with a certified personal trainer is the one-to-one attention you'll get when you're learning the proper technique and form for all of the exercises in your plan. Proper form helps prevent injuries and if you're in the process of recovering from an injury, it's even more important.
Some of the various equipment a trainer might work into your workout plan includes Kettlebells, TRX, free weights, medicine balls, and cardio equipment like a rower or stationary bike.
A certified personal trainer can also be a helpful resource if you're looking for helpful nutritional guidance. Fueling your body properly makes a world of difference when it comes to meeting your fitness goals.
There are plenty of ways to stay active this winter, the most important thing is finding one (or many) activity that keeps you engaged in a fitness routine. Don't let the change in seasons change your fitness habits. Keep moving all winter long so you'll be ready to charge ahead when spring comes.
Looking for a personal trainer to help you start a fitness routine? Call Inspire Fitness Training Studio in Arlington, MA today at 781-643-0002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and get more details.
Joe Rindone, NCPT is a certified personal trainer and the Founder of Inspire Fitness Studio in Arlington, MA. Joe's passion for fitness has motivated him to become one Greater Boston's best personal trainers. An athlete throughout high school and college, Joe has always enjoyed being active. Currently he enjoys road races, working with his boxing coach, kettlebell training and getting out for a round of golf in his spare time.