WINTER FITNESS 101
The blankets are out, there’s a noticeable hike in your caffeine intake and you’ve got the sniffles. Winter is officially back so bust out your hoodies and refrain from swapping your daily showers for deodorant blasts. With the dropping temperatures come the inevitable “posh-overly-expensive” coffee posts on Instagram and a steadily faltering ability to gauge your eating habits. It isn’t uncommon for productivity to reach all-time lows during the winter seasons and it’s equally likely that people blame it on the weather. After all, soon after you finish lunch, it’s already getting dark.
For the average Joe, dragging themselves to hit the gym after a grueling day of struggling through chores and plummeting temperature is the last thing they want to do. I don’t blame you, I would have been the same. But if you are serious about your fitness progress, there is no better time than to step things up than this winter. You don’t want to be that guy who rushes to the gym as soon as summer creeps up around the corner, expecting to redeem yourself of the winter mischief. That’s not going to work too well.
Getting visible results takes time and you need a head start if you want to get your beach body ready by summer.
But I get it, we are all humans and the weather does affect us. So in this article I’m going to give you tips on training and nutrition that’ll help you enjoy the laziness of winter while also keeping your progress intact (or even better).
So here’s the plan. Unless you’re already overweight, it’s a good idea to build mass during the winter. The first reason is that since your body will be hidden underneath layers of clothing, a little bit of fluff won’t hurt. Also, we need slightly more calories in the winters just to keep our body temperature up, so why not? Let’s start with the training first. Committing to something and being accountable and accomplishing your goals is very important. Setting your fitness goals too high and failing to meet them will hamper your confidence and you don’t want that.
So I’d advise you to hit the gym only 3 times per week. Yup! Only three times. That too on alternate days. On these days perform full body workouts. Don’t underestimate routines that work the entire body, they are immensely effective.
We have 7 major body parts (Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs, Biceps, Triceps, Abs). What I want you to do is pick one exercise per body part and perform anywhere between 3-4 sets of it. Try to incorporate as many compound movements as possible. Now the trick with full body workouts is to periodize the training. What that means is putting in planned variations in your regimen, especially when it comes to the number of repetitions.
What we will be incorporating here is called DUP or Daily Undulating Periodization. To keep things simple, it’s just a fancy way of telling you to vary your rep range every workout in the week.
Personally, I start the week with heavy weights and lower reps so I work in that 4-6 rep range. The mid week workout is usually high rep work just to get the blood flowing which helps in recovery, usually the 15-20 reps range. And towards the end of the week, I work on that mid range of 8-12 reps.
You can vary the exercises from workout to workout but keep it the same from week to week. Week 1’s Workout A should be similar to week 2’s Workout A. This is important because we want to be able to compare our workout performance, which brings me to a very important advice: always track your workouts. Always.
Without a proper workout log, you are just running blindfolded hoping to reach your destination without having a proper view of the route. Hence, I always put so much emphasis on tracking your workout performance and aiming to improve every consecutive workout.
Part 2 of the workout would be to do some sort of cardio work on the rest days. It can be as simple as talking a brisk walk, a good run or even doing some home workouts. I have a few home workout routines on my YouTube Page (pardon a little shameless marketing will ya)
Now, let’s talk about nutrition. Let’s get something clear right off the back, without proper nutrition you’re just wasting your efforts. The first thing you need to do is to stay hydrated. People drink less liquid during the winter but it is very important to be hydrated, especially during the winter. Your body needs water to perform at its optimal levels and dehydration is one of the reasons why people get injured at the gym. If your body is dehydrated, it loses its flexibility and performance decreases. This also means that you are at a higher risk of getting injured. So always, stay hydrated; even if that means you have to carry a portable toilet around you. Another thing that your body requires during the winter is carbs to keep yourself warm.
So enjoy a little more of carbohydrates. Your body will thank you. Trust me, I have tried going on low carb/ ketogenic diet during two winters and the drop in temperature feels magnified. So keep your carbs just a little bit higher than what it would be during the summer. But wait, there’s a catch to it. You have to be extra careful with the fats. Try consuming lesser fat in your diet. Also when it comes to winter, it’s much easier to catch a flu or get sick easily. Hence, keep a good multivitamin and fish oil in your arsenal. It really makes a lot of difference.
So, don’t let dropping temperatures become the reason of regret when summer comes. Don’t hit the snooze button and hit the gym hard. All you need is a cup of strong coffee (or rounds of it if you are like me) to get your day started and keep you going.
SAMPLE WORKOUT A: 4-6 REPS OF 4 SETS
Flat bench press
Clean and Jerk
Close grip Bench press
SAMPLE WORKOUT B: 15-20 REPS OF 3 SETS
Incline Dumbbell press
SAMPLE WORKOUT C: 8-12 REPS OF 3 SETS