Winter is the nemesis of outdoor exercise?
It’s no real secret that I’ve recently diverged over to pretty much a full calisthenic based training style. Summer was wonderful; long hours in parks, minimal clothes, daylight for up to 18 hours per day and happy moods all round……….
Anyway, let’s end my digression and get back in the present. Training outdoors is tough at this time of year – especially in a cold climate (UK). I’ve spent the last month or so trying to extend the shelf life of my outdoor workouts and it’s not been easy. In actual fact, I’m going to admit defeat with this post.
Cold conditions lead to cold joints. Cold joints require extensive warming up and effort to maintain adequate temperature (no fun). All this means in simple terms is: cold, outdoor workouts lead to decreased performance and increased risk of injury.
Calisthenics are getting more and more popular by the day, and with the amount of practitioners it has, how on earth do the experienced trainees tackle the winter? I pondered this for a while and eventually done some research. And it turns out there are generally two options………
1) Resort to working inside until the weather conditions improve
2) Abandon ship and spend winter abroad in a summer climate
The latter is more unlikely unless you’ve got a very freelance job which allows you to work from anywhere, the former is much more common. Just because you’re in a gym, it doesn’t mean you have to use machines or even weights. You can still do calisthenics exercises. All you need is a bar to pull yourself up, and most gyms nowadays have dip stations and even TRX/gymnastics rings.
“From around November through till late March I stay away from the parks and train in the gym.
I have a gym near to where I live in Essex which has a great CrossFit style ‘pull up rig’ installed in there and plenty of floor space for parallette training and I also train at the CrossFit gym where I run a monthly class so that adds a bit of variety.
Winter in the UK isn’t much fun, cold, wet and miserable and goes dark around 4pm so not ideal for the kind of training I do and also training with cold joints and muscles is only gonna increase the risk of injury”…………..
………..Lee Wade Turner, in an interview with Calisthenics Parks Blog (blog.calisthenics-parks.com) when asked how he tackles working out in the winter. There are countless other examples just like his.
(Lee Wade Turner in a back lever, courtesy of pullupsandpeanutbutter.co.uk)
I know this isn’t the most picturesque option and the scenery will not be as good, but hey, when all’s said and done, your progress will be better and that’s the most important factor. There’s nothing more dejecting than a workout with performance numbers half that of what you usually do.
The moral of the story
If conditions aren’t conducive to productivity, CHANGE THEM! Don’t try to force the issue. You can’t change nature. Working outside at this time of year requires plenty of respect – especially if you’re doing advanced stuff like levers and skill based work. Even more so for plyometric exercises. Sometimes you just can’t beat the conditions, so lose the ego and stubbornness and go into the gym. It’s warm there and not so bad after all.
Disclaimer: This isn’t a case for pure calisthenics and an attack on weights and gyms, but more a reminder that there are many people who love training outside and may not want to stop, in spite of the season change. However, accepting reality and working out in a warmer environment is not only safer, but far more productive.
JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.
Spaniard here, Madrid resident. Raised in Canary Islands. You could easily guess I wasn’t used during my upbringing to below zero or above 40º celsius.
I use to train with my mates very early in the mornings, but some days it has to be in the evening. There have been mornings in the middle of the winter so cold the bars seemed to bite you. There have been some evenings in summertime right into 40º territory.
We’ve seen huge tree branches falling close by, even a whole tree fell down in a windy day and a poor child died smashed by it. That day we didn’t stay.
We’ve worked out surrounded by fog so thick we couldn’t see each other beyond 10 meters. We’ve seen snow, rainbows, heavy thunderstorms and sleet. We got winds so hot you felt you were inside a hair dryer.
Many things happen during the year, after all these years, we’ve seen everything. We have four different seasons and we got the worst out of them.
It doesn’t matter
We stick to it. Tomorrow morning is handstand practice. We’ll be there, outside, barely above 0º and as of now, raining.
Great blog man, many thanks
Hey man, thanks for feedback 😀
That’s an interesting heritage you’ve got there! Whereabouts in the Canaries are you from originally? Sounds like you’re used to some seriously varying weather/conditions!
Surely you also find your performance suffers in the colder periods though, surely? And I’m shocked it’s that cold as far south as Madrid?!
I’m from Gran Canaria. Madrid is at an altitude of more than 600m and very far from the sea, which is a temperature moderator
As for being as far south… Well, actually my workout mate is from Northampton and his parents came by one April some years ago and were like “but…but…it’s colder than it was in England, and it’s raining so heavy and…” haha.
And yes, performance decreases, longer warmups are needed, there is a bigger risk of injuries and so forth. Best time for working out outside is May and September, which are like your July/August regarding temperature. Summer is hellish.
Again, many thanks four your time spent in writing these posts, your wisdom, your experience (if it’s not the same thing), your insights… and my most sensed apologies for my awful English
Ah awesome, I’ve heard good things about Gran Canaria! Shit, I didn’t know Madrid was quite that high, that makes sense now that you’d get variation in conditions!
Haha really?! You know it’s bad when you’ve got worse weather than the British midlands!
Yeah I think it’s a case of staying insulated and keeping the reps a little higher when you’re outside in colder conditions. And almost the opposite when it’s hot; longer rest and lower volume overall.
My pleasure man, honestly. Thanks for reading/interacting. Knowing people read my work and get something from it means the world and is what keeps me doing this!
Oh come on, your English is mighty fine! FAR better than my Spanish haha