Staying fit in the winter presents many challenges. Cold temperatures, far away goals and tempting food choices are just a few obstacles athletes face. In my experience, both for myself and what I've seen as a coach, the biggest issue is boredom. How many times can you ride the trainer, or fight others for precious treadmill time? I'm here to tell you about other exercises, some indoor, some outdoor, that will keep you fit and sane.
First, let's start with the outdoor activities. Topping my list is skate skiing. This is a form of cross country skiing that uses your entire body. If you haven't tried this, you are in for a treat. In a matter of 1 hour you can get in a hard workout that will tax every muscle, and some you didn't know you had. Next is snow shoeing. I know, it looks like you're just walking in the snow, but trust me, this can hurt! The deeper the snow the harder you work but the slower you go. I treat snowshoeing like a hill workout since it builds strength in the legs and hips. It is also low impact and great for building a base and power at the same time. Finally there is downhill skiing. It may not provide the same aerobic workout as the others, but skiing is a dynamic activity requiring power, precision and quick movements. For Olympic or Xterra athletes it can help boost your explosiveness.
For indoor activities I'll stick to things you would find in a gym. First, the rowing machine. Again, it is a full body workout and harder than it looks. It is a great activity for building lower and upper back strength while still working the legs. With no impact it is great for athletes recovering from or trying to avoid injury. Next is the stair stepper. This machine really works your glutes and calves. The key when using this machine is to not hold the handles. If you use the handles and stabilize your upper body with your arms your core will not engage. Work on keeping your core muscles firing and using them to power off the stairs. Last, athletes can use box jumps, plyometrics and a jump rope to work on explosive power. Again, for short course athletes this will help improve your dynamic speed, muscle firing pattern and quickness. Plus, it can really get your heart rate up in a short time.
Winter time training presents athletes with alternate activities to stay fit and motivated through the colder months. Don't‚ get caught in the mindset that swimming, biking and running are the only ways to get faster this season. You can fight off the dreaded winter boredom syndrome and increase your fitness by finding new sports and new machines.
The challenge of winter is in keeping yourself motivated and consistent. Making a few adjustments in your training will allow you to make it to spring with your mind and body feeling strong.
Train Hard, Train Smart, Train Safe,