By Kim Kash
Remember how thrilling it was to watch Olympic athletes from all over the world perform at their absolute physical peak? Did the excitement of the Summer Games inspire you to start a new fitness routine or take up a new sport? We know it did for some of you: there was a peak in new London gym memberships over the summer that tracked right along with the Summer Olympics! Keep that fire burning as the weather cools with these five tips to help keep you on top shape all winter.
1. Transition into the right winter sport. When the weather turns cool, don’t get rusty in your new favorite summer sports. Instead, pick a good winter alternative. If you took up tennis over the summer, for example, round out your skills and keep them sharp by switching to squash. Your game will have to change to accommodate that tiny court and all those walls! Your reflexes will quicken to keep up with the faster, tighter pace of the game, and you’ll learn the physics of a shorter racquet. All this will help your physical and mental game, and in the spring when you head back outdoors to the tennis court, you’ll still be sharp and will have developed some new techniques. Likewise with other sports: find a similar winter sport to complement your summer routine and sharpen particular skills. Or find its opposite for a good bit of cross-training. For example, did you take up jogging over the summer? Then try a high-energy yoga class this winter. It will loosen those tight hamstrings and work out any possible lower back issues that can plague some runners.
2. Get in gear. Some people won’t transition to a new sport, but rather will keep right on going with their outdoor pursuits, despite rain and slush and early darkness. Fierce! Running and cycling, especially, are activities that you can definitely continue year-round with a little planning and the right kit. But if you’re shivering and miserable in inadequate gear, then you won’t stick to your routine—and you may even put yourself in danger of hypothermia or of getting hit by traffic in the dark. The trick to gearing up for a cold-weather workout is layering, of technical fabrics and/or wool. This stuff can be pricey, but you’ll be grateful for it. Borrow from friends and go on a few test runs, if possible, before dropping the money for your own gear. Also, get a reflective vest and/or safety lights for night running or cycling. Kit your bike out with the right combination of baskets and panniers if you plan to commute—complete with waterproof bags and a rain cover for the seat. Put some thought into it, so that one miserable day out in the rain without the right gear doesn’t wreck your resolve for the rest of the season.
3. Don’t work out. Train. I can’t stand going to the gym just for the sake of slogging through another round of circuit training and ticking off my to-do box for the day. Boring! If you’re like me, you’re much more likely to show up for the workout if you’ve got a specific reason to do it. Light a fire under your fitness regime Olympics-style, by registering for your very first 10K run, or a mini-triathlon. Or sign up for a class in something technically challenging, like rock climbing or even circus skills.
These sports require very specific types of strength and stamina. To improve your performance, you will need to clock some hours at the health club. But now, instead of zoning out on the treadmill, you’ll hit the gym with a set of specific goals and a concrete reason to work hard. That’s motivating.
4. Step off the scale. A pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle. That’s why, as you become more fit and muscular, the needle on the scale may go up even as your waist size goes down. If you’re compulsive about tracking your weight, see if you can transfer that compulsion to some other metric: your waist and thigh measurements, for example. Even better would be the careful tracking of some kind of performance measure: number of crunches in a minute (mind your form!), number of continuous laps in the pool, or number of pull-ups until exhaustion.
5. Stir up some competition. As mentioned above, you might find it easier to get your workout done if it’s in the name of training for a specific event or activity. Likewise, you may be more likely to show up and work out if you’re competing against your best mates. Who can drop two dress sizes first? Who can improve their 5K sprint time the most in 2 weeks? It doesn’t matter whether your fitness levels are well matched or not, if you compete using percentages of improvement over time. Make the prize for the winner be something significant, and keep issuing new challenges. The details can be anything, so long as the competition creates a stronger pull at the end of a long workday than the siren song of the couch and the telly.
Article provided by Beachbody