15 Training Tips To Avoid A Winter Workout Slump
It’s certainly becoming chillier here in Ireland, winter is now upon us, the time of year it can be harder to keep the fitness lifestyle going.
The lure of high-calorie comfort foods, the excuse of it’s cold and wet outside, or an excess of parties in the lead up to the festive season, can all see the best-laid plans go astray.
That’s why I thought it was the perfect timing for me to give you a few winter training tips, keep these in mind to stay in shape or get in shape this winter.
Pick which ones will make a difference for you, and take action.
The best way to stay motivated to train through the winter is to set a short-term winter training goal to lead that healthy lifestyle into spring and summer.
You may have a new years resolution that you set at the start of the year.
How’s that going? If it’s good, keep the focus and finish strong, if it’s not so good fire yourself back up and have the strongest finish of the year possible.
Having a goal will help keep you focussed and is the motivation to keep going even when the weather is miserable!
Set that goal, how can you expect to have any focus or willpower in the winter months if you don’t know why you want to make healthier lifestyle choices?
When you know what you want the outcome of your winter training to be, break it into smaller process goals that will lead to the outcome goal with balance.
I have added a process goal at the end of each tip, these are ideas I have coached from working with clients over the years, they can now help you this winter.
Have a think as you read through the tips and form new processes for yourself that match your own lifestyle.
A quick tip is not to add too many processes causing possible overwhelm, keep things simple, focus your positive habits and behaviours, and the results will come with consistency.
It’s your goal, you need to decide now what it will be, then take massive action, and work your strategy of achievement around the winter months.
Part of this is knowing your own expectation and what you’re happy with.
If your goal is a 6 pack or very low body fat, then you may need more willpower, discipline, and tighter habits for the process than if you want to complete five 5 k runs, balanced with 2 nights out rather than 10 in the next month.
This totally depends on the person and all of the other lifestyle factors you need to consider through the winter.
Winter is a time of hibernation after all, and you may want to keep things in balance enjoy a few nights out, a hot chocolate on a long walk, or snacks in front of the fire watching TV.
The key is to plan this around training and the foundations of healthy eating and not to just go totally off the healthy lifestyle rails through winter.
If the goal through winter is fat loss or how you look take some measurements, then pictures in your undies or swimwear, a visual measure is the best way to check progress.
If higher performance levels are the winter focus, record your lifts, distances, and times in against the clock workouts.
If it’s to tighten nutritional habits through the winter hibernation months, start by keeping a journal to be mindful of what you’re actually eating.
Process tip: Have a goal of showing up, a certain amount of weights sessions, meditation, walks, swims, classes, mountain hikes, stretching at home or a combination of all within a certain amount of time.
Then set up a simple exercise completion log and tick off when you complete a session.
If this was the only thing you did, resulting in more completed sessions that’s success and certainly forming the correct habits for bigger goals if you choose.
The log is especially beneficial when you’re mindful of eating habits at the same time.
At the start of the month/week look at your availability to train and what will suit your lifestyle in that time, just take a moment to write down what it will take for success.
Before each workout mentally rehearse what you want to achieve from your time in the gym.
What will you be fuelling your body with? , do you need to prep food? what’s the healthiest option close to work if you’re pushed for time?
Do you have a process goal of consuming 1 litre of water each day rather than 2 litres of coffee?
Plan ahead on how you will make the smaller steps happen, and how it fits into the day.
Process tip: Lay out the gym gear or trainers for the morning run the night before. Set up the yoga mat in your living room, prepare healthy snacks the night before. Whatever the mode of exercise you choose, line up your tools before you go to sleep.
Hiring a personal trainer or coach to assist you in your goal and give you their expertise is a great idea any time of year.
Your time is precious so make sure you are doing things correctly from the start and progress your training with guidance to maximise the time you spend in the gym.
A Personal Trainer will give you coaching with the tips already mentioned, goal setting, measurements, and planning.
This professional must have the positivity and focus to assist you, the time you spend with them should leave you with a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
They will also push you that little bit harder than you would by yourself, or tell you when to ease back and give alternatives (if they’re good!)
Process Tip: In winter a Personal trainer can be especially beneficial, treat time with a trainer as an important business meeting in your diary, prioritise the time you spend on your health and wellness above time on things that add nothing to your life.
There’s extra motivation from the knowledge that someone is waiting for you to train or attend a class together, this helps you to stick to your plans especially in the bleak mid-winter.
Make a pact with a friend to encourage each other and commit to set training sessions and times.
Add in some elements of competition, even if it’s a competition for the most completed workouts or set a goal for both of you through the winter.
Maximise your time focussing on the training rather than too much talking and encourage each other throughout the training.
Having a training partner is a great way to spend time with a friend or family member, this gives even more value to the training.
Maybe catch up for a coffee before or after the training, leave the phone in your locker and have some quality time together.
Process Tip: This doesn’t have to be restricted to the gym, maybe the goal is mental wellness through winter and you meet for a weekly chat with a friend.
Perhaps you write it in the diary to go swimming or hiking as a family at least once per week.
Whatever suits your lifestyle.
Focus the mind, to power the body.
Now is not the time to relax your habits just because others are, avoid people who snort at a healthy outlook just because they lack the willpower and self-respect to make a change.
Just as it’s important to have that training partner, it is also key to your success to surround yourself with positive people, people who speak and act positively and encourage others to do well.
Negative Nelly will now be counting down to their next new year resolutions, whilst bringing boxes of biscuits and donuts into work to share on cold winter days.
This is especially true in the build-up to Christmas, it’s very kind of them and maybe they mean well but it’s not in line with your goals, so avoid Nelly as best you can.
Your daily surroundings and people you associate with are almost as important as the training sessions themselves.
Process Goal Tip:
Avoid people with a negative outlook, focus on positive self-talk and finding solutions rather than excuses, positivity will lead to success.
Remember it’s long-term habits and behaviours that lead to a change with anything, this is powered by a positive mind from you.
(send negative Nelly a copy of this)
Avoid the massive cheat days and high-calorie snacks just because you made it to the gym this week.
Kick off the winter with a little retail therapy, kit yourself out with some new training gear for your winter training sessions, it will add to the feel-good factor to freshen up the workout gear.
Process Goal Tip: When you reach a training goal or complete a challenge you set yourself, reward the achievement with a massive pat on the back and a trip to the shops.
Or even a relaxing massage, beauty treatment or meal at your favourite restaurant.
Add activity to the day whenever possible.
Go straight to the gym before or after work, if you train in the afternoon or evening, plan your day so that you don’t have to go home before visiting the gym or a class.
It can be really difficult to leave the house once you get home and comfortable in the warm on a cold winters night, so plan differently.
Pack your training gear the night before so you’re organised and are left with no excuses not to go to the gym.
Integrate exercise into your day, at lunchtime go for a brisk 20-minute walk to clear your head and re-energise.
Go for a walk to pick up a healthy lunch from somewhere different, whatever maximises your time for additional activity.
Process Goal Tip: If you have a meeting with a colleague planned, consider going for a “walk and talk”, this can also revitalise your mind and get you ready for a productive afternoon.
Find the type of exercise and routine that achieves your primary goal, showing up/consistency.
This could be an exercise class for the social interaction, the banging tunes and feel good factor.
A weights session in the gym because you love the feeling of training with weights, and the results it gives you.
A Pilates or yoga course because you want to be guided through exercises that challenge with structure and flow.
Or Perhaps an early morning swim followed by stretches in the steam room or sauna.
Process Tip: It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy the experience, and you exit the winter months in a healthier place as a result.
Do something you like, an exercise that is not enjoyable will not get you out of bed.
The gym isn’t for everyone, so if you like walking, cycling, yoga or swimming (you get the idea), make it part of your winter plan and look forward to it.
Depending on the training environment and your current level of fitness you may need to spend longer warming up in the winter months, for obvious reasons.
Those joints and muscles may need a little extra attention before a cold morning run or winter weights session.
Process tip: Dedicate time to mobilising the joints and dynamic stretches specific to the training movements prior to the training session.
This will enhance the training sessions, help you to avoid injury and also speed up recovery.
When the workouts are done get some early nights or completely chill out and recover.
Have a planned time to relax after your hard work, snuggle up and get plenty of sleep to let the body and mind recover.
Doing too much in these cold winter months can make you more susceptible to illness, colds, or flu, common setbacks to maintaining a winter exercise routine.
Fortunately one of the many benefits of regular exercise is a healthy and resilient immune system, which helps you recover faster, and makes you less likely to get sick in the first place.
If you do get a bout of the sniffles and sneezes, try gentler activities such as stretching or walking to maintain the good habits.
This will make it easier to get back into your regular program when you’re feeling 100 percent full power again.
Process Tip: Just like your training sessions are planned in, plan in recovery time to the winter schedule.
Yes, you’ve heard it before, stay hydrated.
We tend to drink less water in the winter as we favour warm drinks, but make sure you keep hydrated and have plenty of water throughout the day to re-hydrate
During the winter months, the tendency for some is to reach for a spiced latte, double cream hot choc, a white chocolate mocha, or just extra coffee in the colder weather.
Process tip: If you do want a warm drink, then hot fruit tea or green tea is an excellent winter warmer option to keep you hydrated, avoid high-calorie drinks or too much caffeine.
If your gym has a sauna or a steam room, why not use it too warm up?
Close your eyes and imagine the heat is coming from the sun as you relax on the beach in the Caribbean.
As long as you remain hydrated, a relaxing muscle warming sweat session can be just the tonic you need on a cold winters day.
Hot yoga, which is done in a heated room, is also a good way to work up a sweat without braving the outdoor training.
Process tip: Combine the processes that will lead to your outcome goals, whilst in the steam or sauna go through some light static stretches while the muscles are warm.
This is also a great space to take time to focus on some deep breathing and meditation.
If all else fails, escape to the sun to boost your motivation with time in the heat to beat the winter blues.
Boost your Vitamin D levels with a mid-winter sunshine break to re-charge the batteries, you can still choose to stay active with hikes and workouts in the sun.
Most professional sportspeople have a period of warm weather training during the winter, so why don’t you?
Plan in a winter escape as a reward, a week or two in the sun can do wonders for our health and motivation.
Alternatively, embrace the cold and hit the slopes for a hiking, skiing, and snowboarding adventure.
Process tip: Plan your break for some downtime rest and recovery after consistent training, or use it to kick-start some habits and book somewhere with plenty of activities and exercise options.
Last of all and most important of all is to approach your winter training with a positive mindset.
Keep strong habits and beliefs through winter and you’ll be a step ahead when the warm weather arrives.
If you fail to hit your weekly goals or miss a workout, don’t panic get straight back on track at the earliest opportunity.
Instead of avoiding the cold, embrace it, get outside for some fresh air in the great outdoors, this will be good for your mind as well as your body.
Process Tip: Remind yourself of the positives and how amazing you feel after a workout, enjoy it, make it fun, have a laugh along the way.
Focus on the value of the healthy lifestyle, stop looking for excuses and start making solutions!
Have an amazing winter