When the temperatures are cooler, we are all, I think, guilty of our workouts not getting first priority like in warmer months. I for one use a lot of these tricks below. My absolute favorite trick that works every time, is sleeping in my workout clothes and Fitness Magazine agrees. See below for 9 more tips from Fitness Magazine to stay motivated this winter.
Stay In Bed
Yup, you read that right. “The bed actually can be an effective place to perform both cardiovascular and strength protocols,” notes Jay Cardiello, star of the ABC television show My Diet Is Better Than Yours, and the creator of the Jay Cardiello No Diet Plan. “Just like the Bosu ball, your bed can assist in development of proprioception, which is basically the feedback loop between the body and the brain,” he explains. Essentially, using your bed as a tool in your workout can help you work on your balance. “When an individual is performing exercises on an unstable surface, they are training their brain to fire more rapidly in order to make adjustments to the body’s position based on the circumstance. The body then reacts to restabilize, which has multiple benefits.” Working on your balance not only improves your overall strength, but also helps to create better symmetry in your hip area, making activities like running and cycling easier. (For some ideas on how to work your balance, check out these 5 moves.)
Embrace the Suck
Sometimes, you just need to acknowledge that getting yourself to the gym when it’s freezing out is going to be less than ideal. “When it’s cold outside and I’m still getting a workout in, I focus on the fact that I am learning to embrace the discomfort, which will help me overcome obstacles in all areas of my life,” explains Tyler Spraul, NSCA-CSCS, head trainer at Exercise.com. “Additionally, I’m working on even leaning into the discomfort and thinking of that ‘burn’ as vital to the success that I’m after. I believe the Navy Seals refer to this as ’embrace the suck!'” It’s true that every time you get through a tough workout, you’re better for it.
Sweating with a buddy is always better. Steph Dietz, lead cycologist at Cyc Fitness, suggests signing up “for a group fitness class with a friend instead of heading to the gym solo. Plan for a toasty brunch or dinner with your friend after.” After all, if you’re meeting a friend you’re going to be more motivated and way less likely to ditch the class. “Plus, if you plan something fun to do like catch up over hot coffee or matcha after class, then it’s so worth it!” she adds. If you don’t have a workout buddy yet, here are seven ways to find one.
Get Your Gear Right
If there’s a time when you should invest in quality running gear, it’s the winter. Running outside in the cold can actually be pretty nice—if you’ve got the right stuff. “If I’m going for a run outside. I make sure to have the right gear, especially warm socks, my Lululemon gloves, and ear muffs,” says Erika Hammond, founding trainer at Rumble Boxing. (If you’re not sure what to wear to log winter miles, here’s what to wear on a cold-weather run.)
Try Out the 5-Minute Rule
“Especially in the winter, I motivate myself and others with a little bribe I call the 5-minute rule,” says Kate Lemere of Barry’s Bootcamp in Chicago. “Just get to your workout and if you absolutely do not want to be there after five minutes, give yourself a pass to leave.” Seems pretty reasonable to us. Plus, how often do you actually want to leave the gym once you’re already there? “I guarantee you that once you get there and start, you won’t want to stop. And I’ll go a step further to say you’ll be so glad you stuck with it,” she adds.
Switch Up Your Routine
Sometimes, you just need a change in habits to get yourself motivated again. “The moment I switch out my leather jacket for my puffy jacket, I also switch up my workout routine by adding in two new studios to my monthly workouts,” explains Heidi Jones, founder of Squad WOD and CrossFit coach at Solace New York. When the weather gets cold, “I add in hot yoga and increase my cardio boxing classes. Hot yoga works for me almost exclusively in the winter because it’s so cold outside that I am seeking that warm studio and a good sweat! The cardio boxing increases because I am not running as frequently outside and I absolutely love boxing,” she says. Instead of dreading the turn of winter, Jones says she gets excited about the new additions to her workout routine. “Plus, changing the way I work out keeps my body guessing. I get the opportunity to work different muscle groups versus targeting the same ones month after month, which keeps my body balanced and injury free.” (Can’t tell if it’s time to make a change? These are four signs you need to switch up your workout plan.)
Just Stay Home
…but still work out! If you’ve got the space, there’s no reason you have to venture out into the frozen tundra to get your heart rate up. “When it’s super cold outside, I forgo the gym altogether and just do my workout at home!” says Anna Victoria, creator of the Fit Body Guides. “I keep a set of dumbbells and a yoga mat at home so I am prepared to get my workout in no matter the weather.” Another way to make sure you don’t have to leave the house to accomplish your training goals? Invest in a treadmill like this one from NordicTrack. You’ll never have to freeze your butt off to keep up with your weekly mileage target again! (Not a fan of running inside? Here are five reasons to love the treadmill.)
Set a Big Goal
Having something to work toward can be the key to sticking to a regular workout routine when you’re tempted not to. “I use winter to choose a goal for the following year,” says Dani Buckley, director of fitness at Studio Three in Chicago. “Even better if it’s more like a dream than a goal. This year, it’s my first Ironman. This gives me something to be excited about every day—the kind of thing that I think about in the shower (the best place to think!), before bed, and most importantly, every time that I want to NOT work out.” It’s totally true that setting a lofty long-term goal can help you make better choices in the short term, so if there’s something fitness-wise you’ve always wanted to accomplish, winter could be the perfect time to start making it a reality.
Sleep In Your Workout Clothes
“If you’re an a.m. class superstar, sleep in your workout clothes (sans sports bra!) so you can stay in your warm cozy bed an extra five minutes when that alarm goes off.” suggests Madelaine O’Connell, an instructor at Bari Studio. It might sound silly, but it’s pretty hard to forget that you’re supposed to work out when you’re already wearing your gym clothes. And who doesn’t love an extra few minutes of sleep?
Adapt Your Body to the Cold
This idea isn’t for the faint of heart, but it works. “If you are brave enough to experiment with ice baths, they’re a way to help you adapt to the cold,” says Tommy Konefal, training manager at DavidBartonGym Astor Place. “Start small with cold showers. Remember that the human body is highly adaptive, so over time if you apply a new stimulus, your body will adjust, just like working your muscles makes you stronger. Once you graduate to ice baths you will find it easier to deal with the cold air outside.” A bonus? Ice baths can also help reduce inflammation and alleviate muscle soreness from intense workouts. While getting into a freezing cold bath is probably the last thing you want to do when it’s cold out, Konefal notes that it’s all a mind game. “Changing your perspective mentally helps, instead of dreading the cold, adjust your mindset into thinking about the challenge of overcoming it. The cold can build mental toughness.” (FYI, spinning can also boost your willpower and mental toughness.)