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Winter Workout: Don’t Let the Cold Slow You Down!

Holly Smith

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

winter workout

Looking to kick your fitness up a notch with a winter workout? That's great! The only problem is that the weather doesn’t always cooperate!

The shorter days and the presence of snow and ice can make it hard to stick to your outdoor workouts.

Plus, these dark, chilly, and seemingly neverending months can lead to a loss of motivation to even want to exercise inside, let alone outside.

But, don’t let a little cold weather get in your way!

There are tons of ways to stay in shape with winter workouts, whether you want to brave the cold or stay in the comfort of your own home.

Keep reading to find out how!

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Winter Workout Schedule

If you want to stay accountable for your fitness during the winter months, it helps to write out a schedule that you can stick to.

Each week you will want to incorporate metabolic resistance training, cardio, and balance and mobility workouts to build a well-rounded physique and overall health profile.

Here is a general blueprint for what your week should look like.

You can move around the days based on what your schedule allows as long as you try to hit all the main components of the workouts.

  • Monday: Cardio
  • Tuesday: Full Body Weight Training/Resistance Training
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Full Body Weight Training/Metabolic Resistance Training
  • Friday: Balance and Mobility Workouts
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest or Full Body Weight Training/Resistance Training

As you can see, the breakdown for the week gives you at least 48 hours between each strength training session to allow proper recovery time for muscle rebuilding.

For men just starting a new fitness routine, you can start with just two resistance workouts a week, and gradually add in the third session as your fitness improves.

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Full-Body Strength Training During the Winter

Full-body resistance or weight training is important all year round, but especially so in the winter as your motivation starts to dip.

Increasing and maintaining lean muscle mass will not only give you a toned physique and improved strength but will also increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day.

Busy dads need efficient workouts, which makes full-body resistance training the perfect option.

By using compound exercises and hitting all the major muscle groups, you will also get your heart rate up and enhance your aerobic fitness along with building strength.

Try this full-body resistance workout 2-3 times a week.

You’ll forget all about the cold as you pump out the reps in this sweat session!

These exercises can be done at a gym or in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and some open floor space.

You can replace the dumbbells with resistance bands, or simply use bodyweight if you don’t have equipment currently.

Dumbbell Squats to Overhead Press

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height.
  • Your palms should be facing each other and the elbows pointed forward.
  • Squat down, pause briefly, then stand back up.
  • Then press the weights overhead.
  • Bring the weights back down to shoulder height and repeat.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Bent Over Rows to Tricep Kickbacks

  • Stand upright, hinge forward, and bend your knees slightly while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lift the dumbbells straight up to chest level, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
  • Then kick back your arms behind you by squeezing your triceps.
  • Next, bend your elbows to return the weights to your chest.
  • Lower the weights by extending your arms to return to the starting position.
  • Complete for a total of 10 reps for 3 sets.

Push Up to Side Plank

  • Begin in a plank, or push-up, position with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows and lower into a push-up.
  • As you straighten your arms to come up, lift your right arm toward the ceiling, twisting into a side plank to make a T shape with your body.
  • Rotate back to plank, placing your right palm on the floor to lower into a push-up.
  • Now, straighten your arms and lift your left arm toward the ceiling as your twist into a side plank in the opposite direction.
  • Continue this until you complete 6-8 reps on each side.
  • Repeat for a total of 3 sets.

Dumbbell Lunges to Curls

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart.
  • Take a large step forward with one foot and lower your body toward the floor into a lunge.
  • Both legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the lunge.
  • Bring weights in towards shoulders to complete a bicep curl, then push off the front foot and return to a standing position.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Continue until you have completed 6-8 reps on each leg.

This 40-minute full-body workout is great for strength training and optimizes your time with a superset workout plan!

Don’t Forget Mobility and Balance Work!

Mobility and balance workouts build a solid core, which is the foundation for all of your other activities.

Guys often forget about working on balance and flexibility, but these types of workouts become increasingly important as you age, and should not be neglected during the winter.

Stretching and balance exercises maintain healthy muscles and connective tissue and reduce your risk for injuries.

Plus, these types of workouts are necessary to improve flexibility, range of motion, and coordination.

This, in turn, will improve all of your other resistance and endurance workouts.

On top of all of this, these exercises will improve your strength and aerobic fitness as well.

For example, a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants in a Pilates class were able to improve their muscular endurance and flexibility using relatively low-intensity Pilates exercises.

Think of this day as an active recovery day. This is a great time to do some light stretching and balance moves in the comfort of your own home.

Here are some sample balance and mobility moves that you can incorporate into your weekly winter routine.

Tree Pose

  • Stand with your arms at your sides.
  • Keep your weight on your left leg and place the sole of your right foot inside of your left thigh.
  • Once balanced, bring your hands in front of you in a prayer position.
  • Extend your arms overhead, separated and facing each other.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Lower and repeat on the right side.

Downward Facing Dog

  • Start on all fours with hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Move your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers wide.
  • Press your palms into the floor and press your butt toward the ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V position.
  • Feet should be about hip-width apart with the knees slightly bent.
  • Hold for three deep breaths.
  • Come into a plank position, and then return to the downward-facing dog for another three breaths.

Upward Facing Dog

  • Start by lying on your stomach with your hands near your shoulders.
  • Inhale and press your hands firmly into the floor and slightly back.
  • Straighten your arms and lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor.
  • Hold for three deep breaths.
  • Straighten into a plank position, then return to the upward-facing dog for another three breaths.

Seated Twist

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended.
  • Cross your right foot over the outside of your left thigh.
  • Keep your right knee pointed up.
  • Then place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
  • Place your right hand on the floor behind you near your lower back.
  • Twist to the right as far as you can.
  • Hold this for 30 seconds.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel on your right knee and place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you with your knee bent.
  • Lean forward stretching your right hip towards the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Child’s Pose

  • Sit up on your heels.
  • Bring your torso forward, and allow your forehead to rest on the mat or floor in front of you.
  • Lower your chest as close to your knees as you comfortably can, extending your arms in front of you.
  • Hold the pose and take several deep breaths.

Winter Cardio

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you should neglect your cardio workouts.

If your gym is still open, there is always the option to join a fitness class or jump on the treadmill at your fitness center.

However, if you don’t enjoy wearing a mask while you workout, there are plenty of ways to add cardio at home and outdoors.

Learn how to do cardio at home with HIIT and LISS!

Move Your Outdoor Workouts Inside

Even if you love running or biking outdoors, that isn’t always possible in the winter, even with the best preparation.

Dangerously cold wind chills, winter storms, and icy roads mean that at some point you will need to move your workouts indoors.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the aerobic benefits inside.

While the scenery may not be as great, you can still create some challenging treadmill or indoor bike workouts.

If you have your own exercise equipment at home, that’s a bonus.

If not, the winter months could be a great time to join a gym. Then you can get your cardio and weight training done all in one place.

If COVID still has your gym locked down, don’t worry! You can still get great workouts done from home.

There are some great at-home programs for both biking and running that will keep you motivated all winter long.

For example, companies like Peloton and Nordic Track offer memberships that hook right up to their fitness equipment so that you can bring trainers right into your home.

And of course, the Fit Father Project has great workout programs and videos available that include high-intensity intervals and strength training.

This means you have no excuse to not get a great workout from anywhere!

Learn how to set up a home workout schedule to lose weight and get toned!

Outdoor Cardio: Stay Safe As the Days Get Shorter

If you enjoy exercising outdoors, you don’t have to stop in the winter.

But the change of season means that it gets dark earlier at night.

This makes it even more important to stay smart and safe during your workouts.

Still, just because it’s dark outside doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout.

The early mornings and evenings in the winter are still great times to get in your cardio as long as you’re prepared.

If you are walking or running outdoors before the sun rises or after sunset you should wear a reflective vest or headlamp.

You can even carry a small flashlight so that others can see you.

You also should be prepared for running on icy or snowy sidewalks and roads.

If you know that your route will be a bit slippery, you can equip your running shoes with spikes or cleats.

Learn about burning fat during cardio and the best types of cardio that you can do to lose weight.

Choose the Right Winter Weather Gear

The winter days mean cold temperatures and high winds.

While you may feel cold when you begin your workout, your body will start to warm up as you get going.

And when you combine sweat with low temperatures this can make for an even colder workout.

To deal with this you should layer your clothing for outdoor runs.

Be sure to choose fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin so you're not exercising with wet fabric hanging on you.

The inner layer should be a moisture-wicking fabric, so it wicks away sweat so that you don't become chilled from the mixture of sweat and cold air.

The second layer should be a warmer layer, like a long sleeve shirt.

If there is rain or snow you can add a third protective layer, such as a windbreaker.

If you are out for a run or walk you can tie the top layer around your waist when you start to warm up.

You can also choose a loop route that comes back by your house or car so that you can leave excess clothing there as you continue your workout.

Planning your workouts ahead of time will keep you safe and comfortable during your workouts.

Workout With Your Kids

Winter is also a great time to get your kids outside for some fun in the snow.

Plus, this is a great time to introduce your children to the benefits of an active lifestyle.

And you can burn calories and build strength right along with them!

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

However, the National Survey of Children’s Health found that only 24% of kids this age actually achieve this level of activity.

So if you can get your kids moving now this will set up healthy habits for a lifetime.

You can create circuit workouts indoors. Or grab some warm running gear and challenge your kids to some jogs around the block.

Whatever you choose, the more enjoyable you make the activities, the more likely your kids will want to stay engaged in fitness.

The snow also offers alternative exercises that the whole family can enjoy.

Skiing and snowboarding are great winter sports that will get your heart pumping and build some serious lower body strength.

These are also great exercises to improve core strength and balance.

Fun activities like sledding will get you amazing exercise from dragging your sleds up and down the hills.

If there is a nearby ice rink, ice skating is another fun winter sport that will keep you and the kids in great shape, and entertained, all at the same time.

Try these 7 exercises for kids to get stronger and start improving their health today!

Winter Workouts for the Busy Dad

Just because it's cold outside doesn’t mean you should freeze your workouts.

Winter is the time to build a fitness foundation for the rest of the year.

There are plenty of ways to stay accountable for your workouts and to even incorporate them into fun time with the whole family.

By making a schedule and setting goals early on, you can keep yourself motivated.

Incorporating resistance training, cardio, and balance exercises every week will improve your overall health and get you the “Dad Bod” that guys really want!

Holly Smith

Holly Smith M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

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