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7 Cold Weather Training Essentials

As the days grow shorter and darker, and clouds, rain, and snow turn blue skies gray, it can be hard for even the most dedicated athlete to look forward to training, regardless of sport. While it’s tempting to hide under the covers or start a new show on Netflix, this time of the year could easily derail the training routine you perfected all year. It’s been proven that physical activity is the best way to beat the winter blues and this is a perfect time of year to breathe some new life into your training routine to increase your motivation! Whether indoors or outside there are some essential components of winter training to keep you focused, safe, and performing at your peak.

Embrace the Outdoors

You don’t have to be an athlete to understand the term “cabin fever” during the colder months. If you spend most of your time inside each day—at work or at home—take a break and get some fresh air, using that time to sneak in a run or other activity. Have you ever tried running on a sandy beach during the summer? Running in snow can give you the same level of exertion with a similar resistance. Not only do you get the cardio benefits of running, but also strength training from the snow. Look into outdoor winter recreation activities in your area, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and even sledding (especially if there is a steep hill to climb back to the top of your run). All of these activities require extra precautions when dressing for cold weather activities, which leads us to our next essential tip…

Have Proper Gear and Footwear

Being properly dressed is the most important aspect of taking your training outside this winter. Regardless of your climate, proper layers and material make a huge difference in your performance. Avoid cotton, as it keeps sweat close to your skin, making you wet and cold. Invest in a few lightweight, wicking layers to keep you dry, and insulated jacket or vest for warmth that can be removed, and an outer layer to stop wind, snow, and rain. Being able to regulate your body temperature is important year-round, but even more so when the temperature drops. To keep warm and to also avoid overheating during vigorous exercise you must also cover your extremities. Wear a hat, gloves, and socks that will wick moisture, keep you warm when you sweat, and can be removed if you start to overheat. Merino wool blends are a great option that have been developed to be comfortable (not itchy) and keep you warm, even when wet. Proper footwear with good support and traction is also vital for outdoor activities during the winter. Always be aware of wet pavement or surfaces and avoid ice to protect yourself from a fall.

Use Your Living Room (And Maybe Netflix)

Not every day will bring with it the motivation to get outside or hit the gym. Luckily, most people have everything they need to have a makeshift home gym right in their own home! Lay down a mat in your living room and implement bodyweight exercises when you can’t leave the house. Watching TV, Hulu, or a Netflix show? During commercial breaks or during a scene with music (hello rep beats) fit in lunges, weights, squats, or planks. If you’re headed to the gym and dreading the treadmill or elliptical, download a podcast or a book to keep you engaged.

Eat Well

This seems like a year-round no brainer, but over the winter it can be easy to fall into bad eating habits, especially around the holidays. Keep your fridge stocked with plenty of fruits and veggies, good sources of protein, and healthy snacks. It can be tempting to grab pre-made dinners or lunches when you’re cold and tired, so consider meal prepping and planning a menu for the week ahead. Soups are easy to make in big batches and freeze, and you can make them super healthy with tons of veggies. Can you think of a more comforting meal during the winter?

Pay Attention to Your Body

Winter presents a more challenging environment for your body to adjust to. Fluctuating temperatures, moisture, cold air…the list goes on. Making sure you take the proper steps to prepare yourself for a cold weather workout can not only affect your training, but also prevent injury. Proper warm-up is crucial, especially when going from indoors to outside with an extreme temperature difference. Proper stretching before and after can ease your body in and out of transitions from warm to cold, as well as protecting your muscles from injury. While running and training in cold weather can improve your performance, it can be challenging to breathe in cold air. To avoid the burn, consider using a bandana or scarf over your mouth, or try inhaling through your nose and out your mouth to warm the air before it reaches your lungs. Again, listen to your body—lower your intensity to increase efficiency if it becomes uncomfortable. Drinking plenty of water is also a key role in prevention and recovery of injuries, which leads us to…

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Other than replenishing sweat lost during a workout, staying hydrated supports many of the body’s functions, including regulating body temperature, cell turnover, and supporting the immune system. But when it’s cold, we tend to drink less water. Staying hydrated can be tough during the winter if you are just trying to drink it straight from the bottle or tap. You can increase your hydration through hot drinks like tea (mmm cozy), eating more water-dense fruits and vegetables or soup (so delicious), and by adding flavored supplements to your drinking water (we suggest ones without added sugar). You should aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces each day, and more if you’re exerting more during training.

Mix Up Your Routine

It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut when the weather outside is less than ideal, so try mixing it up with new activities. If you’re a gym member, check out some of the group fitness classes available to add a social aspect, as well as a competitive energy to your workout. Missing the beach or pool days of summer? Hit up a local indoor pool and add laps or water aerobics to your routine. As an added bonus, water sports are a full body workout and low impact, helping preserve your joints if you’re running or training on frozen ground. Another great option is to find a sport-specific camp, clinic, or trainer to supplement your current training routine!

Priority 1 Athletics—Premier Basketball Training and Beyond

If you’re looking for a trainer, camp, or clinic to take your game to the next level before Spring, look no further than Priority 1 Athletics. We provide elite basketball training to athletes of all ages and experience, beginning with an individual evaluation to develop a tailored program for each athlete. Our mission is not to make the best player on each team but to make each player the best that they can be. Based in Knoxville Tennessee, Priority 1 Athletics develops an athletes’ weaknesses and grows confidence in their strengths through training on and off the court. Take your winter training to the next level with us today by contacting trainer Sean Green for private or group training. After all, summer bodies are made in the winter!