Okay people, we know it’s cold outside, bikini season is long gone and those long, hot days have been replaced by short, kinda rainy ones– but please, bear with us! Winter isn’t all doom and gloom (actually, sunny winter days are aplenty) and there’s more than one good reason to stay fit even when it’s cold outside. According to personal trainer Michael Hermann maintaining our workout momentum during June, July and August is all about going in with a plan.

“You’ve probably heard it before but summer bodies are built in winter. Winter is the time to change things up– focus on some weaker areas, alter your routine and build some muscle,” says Hermann.

Hermann wants us to pay attention to a few important things this winter– and he thinks we’ll be pleasantly surprised by some new found motivation.

Make weak spots strong

Before getting too far ahead of yourself with your fitness ideas, it might be best to take a close look at your function and shape and decide what areas require work or even some rehab/prehab – you can’t build on a foundation that isn’t solid. Be honest with yourself and decide which areas need to be focused on and which exercises need to be implemented. Some commonly neglected weak areas include:

  • Glutes and hamstrings
  • The core
  • Shoulders

Glute bridges, stiff leg deadlifts, plank variations, stability ball ab moves and overhead presses are a good starting point to address these areas.

Get better, faster, stronger

I like to think of winter as a time when you can get ahead of the pack. While everybody else is hibernating, you can put in the work to be faster, more agile, and much stronger when October rolls around.

It’s time to ditch the pink dumbbells and the tricep kickbacks and start using some big exercises with more weight. Focus on building a bit of muscle in the 8-12 rep range using larger body parts and multi-joint exercises such as, presses, squats, deadlifts and rows. Going bigger will not only increase the intensity of your workouts but also give you some muscular definition to show off come summer time. Don’t be afraid to build a bit of muscle – muscle is very metabolically demanding body tissue that requires greater amounts of calories for the body to maintain it. This will help you reduce and keep your body fat lower over time and make it a lot easier to be in shape when summer rolls around.

Make it high intensity

Upping your cardio intensity in winter makes sense. It’s not as hot outside so pushing that little bit harder isn’t so tough.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a very effective method for not only increasing your cardio times, but also for increasing your metabolic rate and melting away excess body fat – even up to 48 hours after training! A good method is to use a 2:1 work to rest ratio. For example, you could perform 30–40 seconds of hard sprinting alternated with 15–20 seconds of jogging or walking and repeat these intervals for 10-20mins. Added bonus, a bit of high intensity work will help you get warm when it’s cold out.

Fuel the flame

Changing up your workout routine without changing up your nutrition to support it would be a major mistake that can sabotage most of the results you are looking for. Winter tends to be a time when we have more calories going in than calories going out. There is nothing wrong with more calories. However, we need to consider where our extra calories are coming from and why we are including them in our diet to begin with. If your extra calories are coming from good clean sources and are in proportion to increased training, then go right ahead – you will be better off for including them in your diet.

Along with a good variety of vegetables, you will want to consider some good carbohydrate energy sources such as oatmeal and sweet potato – these work well for most people around workout times.

Protein not only helps with recovery, but also requires more heat and more of the body’s calories to break it down and use it. A quick way to increase the amount of protein in your diet is to drink a protein shake straight after workouts (it’ll help with recovery too). For women, the recommended protein dose is 20-40 grams per serving, so look to use 1-1.5 scoops. Whey protein is an excellent source to use during this window of time as it is digested rapidly into the blood and shuttled with carbohydrates to depleted muscles.