Exercising During a Brutal Winter
I’m sitting on the couch writing out this blog post and it’s minus 4 degrees out. Now, I grew up in Michigan, and I use to spend my winter outside playing endless hours of pond hockey but I just can’t stand being outside right now. The hockey days were tolerable, the weather bounced around the mid 20’s and I never had an issue. I may be older, but this is a bit extreme. In fact, my poor greyhound is trying to bury himself inbetwen a bunch of pillows on the couch.
I have a point to all this complaining: people always want to know what to do about winter exercise. Basically, people want to know how to exercise in the winter. There is scientific literature out there (I had to read plenty of it in college) on how to exercise in the cold, and what happens to the body when we do so.
This isn’t one of those articles. In such extreme weather, I don’t advocate training outside in the cold. Even if you think you’re the best runner in the world, it’s not worth the risk. Besides, most people won’t even shuffle their driveway let alone dump some salt to you don’t slip on a sheet of ice.
There are far better ways to get in shape than distance running. If you want to try and get fit while it’s snowing outside, there are plenty of things you can do indoors to lose some body fat while staying warm.
-Metabolic Conditioning – If you have any home exercise equipment, like kettlebells or medicine balls, you can perform some met-con sessions to help burn some fat. Simply perform a movement, like a kettlebell swing or a medicine slam, and pair it with short rest periods. For example, maybe you do 15 kettlebell swings with 30 seconds of rest inbetween sets.
-Short Rest Periods – If you have excess to a barbell or a pair of dumbbells, you can take advantage of short rest periods to force your body to produce a lot of growth hormone. Growth hormone is a hormone responsible for promoting the fat burning processes in the body. All you need to do is take a movement like DB squats or overhead presses and once again pair it with short rest periods. Just do 8-12 reps per set and you’ll be all set.
-Stairs/Shuttle Runs – Short bursts of activity, like sprinting, are great for producing fat burning hormones. But it’s tough to hit the local track when there’s 15 inches of snow outside. Instead, you can use a flight of stairs in your house to sprint up, or if you have the room in your house, perform shuttle runs (a distance of 10 to 20 meters in which you run back and forth several times). Just make sure that area is safe and clear of obstacles.
In the book Daniels Running Formula, legendary running coach Jack Daniel’s talks about how he coached a guy to run for a marathon while the client was in prison. This consisted of the athlete running in place…in his cell. Of course, going to jail is a bit extreme, but it shows that you don’t have to let a little bit of snow stop you from training hard.