If inclement winter weather is making outdoor exercise treacherous, bring your workout indoors. Set a new fitness goal to work toward for next spring.
Cold, cloudy, rainy, snowy—winter weather is uninspiring. Dismal weather may zap your motivation, but don’t spend the next six months hiding under a mountain of blankets. Use indoor workouts as an opportunity to revisit and master the foundational movements that comprise all exercises.
We’ll help you breathe a little sunshine into an otherwise stale fitness routine by putting a new twist on some familiar exercises. Natural light levels are lower than normal, so let’s perform exercises that get our endorphins flowing to energize us.
Set a goal
Every good plan starts with a goal. Your summer goal may have been to look good in a bathing suit, fit into a certain dress, or feel comfortable enough in your own skin to actually enjoy going to the beach. Winter goals may include fitting into an old pair of jeans, becoming strong enough to lift heavier weights, or being able to last for 20 minutes on the treadmill.
The point is, it feels great to achieve a goal, but to achieve a goal, first you must set one. Your goal should be specific and measurable (for example, I want to be able to do 20 push-ups in a row), and it should be attainable (not 1,000 push-ups in a row). It’s also important that your goal be time-based, so that it’s not open-ended. This will keep you focused so you can create a plan and a schedule.
We would like to extend a challenge to you: pick an event that meets our goal-setting criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, and time-based) and train for that event. While there are intense events to train for such as an Ironman triathlon, Tough Mudder, or the GranFondo bike race, to name a few, you may choose something a little more sane, such as dragon boat racing or the Walk to Cure Cancer. Pick something that will challenge you and put butterflies in your stomach. Fear is a great motivator to keep you training with purpose!
Adapt to the season
As the temperature gets colder, you may begin craving comfort foods. Recognize this and be sure to include plenty of greens and veggies in your diet while limiting sodium and trans fats. Don’t hesitate to visit your local natural health store for advice on the supplements your body needs during winter, such as vitamin D.
The following exercises revisit classic movements such as the push-up, the row, squats, and lunges, while keeping the movements functional and fresh.
Single-Arm Resistance Band Squat and Row
Muscles worked: quads, hamstrings, glutes, rhomboids, and abs
- Fasten a resistance band at hip height.
- Take the handle in your right hand and stand facing the band with appropriate tension, a relaxed arm, feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and a tall upper body.
- With your arm still relaxed and heels maintaining contact with the ground, squat down so that your knees bend to about 90 degrees, as if you are sitting in a chair.
- As you stand up, push your hips forward until your legs are straight and then raise your right knee up to the height of the band, while at the same time pulling your elbow back until your wrist reaches your hip.
- Ensure that your neck and shoulder muscles are not up around your ear (push them down) and return to starting position.
Perform: 2 sets of 15 repetitions per side
Reverse Lunge and Resistance Band 45 Fly
Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings, medial deltoids, and posterior deltoids
- Fasten the resistance band at floor height so that, while facing the band, you can hold both handles, one in each hand.
- Start with minimal resistance, feet together and palms in front of your hips, facing inward.
- Take a large step straight back with your right leg, allowing your front leg to bend.
- While maintaining a tall upper body posture, allow your back leg to bend at the knee until it’s just off the ground.
- As you lower your back knee, raise your arms up to shoulder height, out to the sides.
- Be sure to keep your neck muscles pressed down, squeezing the bottom of your shoulder blades together.
- Step forward with your right leg while you lower your hands back to starting position.
- Alternate legs.
Perform: sets of 10 repetitions per leg
Plate Slide Push-Up Knee Tucks
Muscles worked: pecs, deltoids, triceps, quads, and abs
- Perform this exercise with weight plates on a carpet or with towels on a wood floor (anything that slides!). Plates can range from 5 to 25 lb (2.5 to 10 kg).
- Put one plate under each hand and one under both feet (you should have 3 plates or towels in total).
- Begin in a push-up position, but with hands together and feet together.
- While keeping your legs straight, slide your hands apart just beyond shoulder width and sink down until your elbows are at 90 degrees.
- As you push up, slide the plates back together until they touch.
- As soon as your hands come together, slide your feet forward by tucking your knees to your chest.
- Slide your legs back until they are straight.
- This is one repetition.
Perform: 2 sets of 12 repetitions
As this is an intermediate exercise, you may want to begin with your knees down on a mat. If you are doing the exercise on a wood floor, you can put a towel under your knees and slide them forward and back.
Resistance Band Plank Tricep Kickbacks
Muscles worked: core, lower back, triceps, and shoulders
- Fasten one end of the resistance band at floor height.
- Get into a plank position (resting on your forearms on the floor, keeping toes, hips, knees, and shoulders in a straight line behind you), facing the resistance band.
- Grasp the handle in your right hand, with your elbow at your side.
- Extend your arm straight back so that your wrist reaches your pocket.
- Without moving your elbow, return hand to starting position.
Perform: 2 sets of 15 per arm
This is an intermediate exercise. To start with, try this exercise with your knees on the ground.
Resistance Band Pullover Crunch
Muscles worked: abs, lats, and triceps
- Fasten one end of the resistance band at knee height.
- Lie on your back facing away from the resistance band, and tuck your knees in tight to your chest, creating a rounding of your lower back.
- With arms extending behind you, grasp the resistance band with two hands.
- Begin by pulling your arms overtop your chest. When your hands come overtop your chest, use that momentum to carry you into a crunch, finished with hands over your shins.
- Return to starting position.
Perform: 2 sets of 20
For an easier version, allow your feet to rest on the ground and crunch with hands over your chest, but no further.