Staying Motivated During Winter Workouts
Winter can be tough for good habits.
Gym attendance goes down as people fall off the wagon during the holiday season.
Christmas is built around food and togetherness, while the dark nights mean that motivating yourself to hit the gym for a winter workout is a harder task than it was during the long summer days.
With so many people giving up and accepting that they’ll pick up again during the New Year Resolution boom, how do you stay motivated? How can you squeeze out the very most results from your training during the winter months and stick with the process?
The Challenges of Winter
You already know why winter is a challenging time for fitness – especially if you’re starting to miss a session here or there.
It’s cold, dark, and hot home-cooked food seems more appealing every day. The reality is that it’s easy to get to the gym when everything’s perfect, but during winter time when you’re leaving work in the dark and have to get to the gym, you might feel the tug to just go home, get in bed and leave the winter workout till tomorrow.
The second challenge is tied to this: you’re in the dark more often and you’re going to be feeling some psychological effects of the dark winter days. This is seasonal affective disorder and its tied to being in the dark or having reduced sun exposure – it affects most of us to some extent.
Finally, you’re going to be facing down one of the biggest feast-focussed events in the English-speaking world in Christmas. Turkey is a lean protein, but pigs in blankets are not.
Step One: Prepare for Winter
This is simple – you can make some changes to your diet and lifestyle that help you get the most out of winter.
The first is to get plenty of vitamin D in supplement form. You’re going to be lacking sunlight during the winter months, meaning vitamin D deficiency is a big risk. You can keep your hormonal and psychological health a little more stable with this supplement, as well as normalising your energy levels. Key to staying motivated to train after a long day.
You should also be getting a high-nutrient diet to keep all your other vitamins stable during this trying time. Set yourself up for victory with high-quality plant and fish foods.
Step Two: Fix your Sleep Hygiene
Second is to get into a better sleep schedule. Stay up late watching Netflix? Why not just get up earlier and watch the exact same thing with a coffee while you take a leisurely prep for work? Winter is a time when sleep demands are higher and getting your 8-10 hours is even more crucial.
This means cutting out all those bright screens after a certain time and getting to bed for a high-quality sleep in a dark, cool room. Sleep boosts muscle recovery and growth, as well as being key to energy levels and mental health.
Step Three: Shift your Focus and Get Strong
If you’re feeling drained from a fat-burning diet, it might be time to take a break or reverse the gears.
Cutting for long periods of time can be taxing, while a month of maintenance or recomp-dieting can be a great choice. You need more calories during winter to begin with, and the “winter bulk” might be a bad idea if you’re worried about fat, but it’s a great time to focus on gaining high-quality muscle mass.
This means a mild, “lean” massing phase might be perfect. You get to focus on absolute strength, increasing your workout volume, and fixing up those weak muscles/movements. With hoody season coming on strong, you can focus on the silhouette muscles (arm/traps/delts) and the crucial postural muscles like rear delts, hamstrings, core, and the upper back.
It also means you can partake in the holidays eating without any sense of guilt or exclusion – making your holiday season feel normal and enjoyable!
A healthy lifestyle is all about habit and routine. Winter workouts can test your commitment but it’s a great time to shift your focus.
The best way to handle a problem isn’t always to run through it: accommodating the increased eating and climate of winter can be key to making it one big positive result. You can use this time of heavy clothing to get strong, fix holes in your game, and reverse diet your way back to metabolic health.
Remember to keep yourself moderated, find a sustainable diet, and embrace the positives of this process. Training and dieting are positive ways of taking control over your body and improving your results, not torturing yourself. Winter is a tough time, but these 3 key tips will help you win all winter long.
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