Tips to Stay Motivated During the Winter Chill
With the temperature dropping, rain falling & winter in full effect, it’s understandable that people often do not prioritise their physical fitness in a gym when compared to staying warm & cosy at home.
It can be quite tempting to stay in bed on cold winter mornings and put off training until spring, however your fitness routine during the winter is just as important as the warmer months.
We spoke with ISCA Strength & Conditioning coach and founder of Play Performance Braden Woods for his top tips to stay motivated during the winter chill:
Consistency is Key
Have you ever wondered why the athlete that turns up to training every session week in and week out is the one that is often performing the best or seeing the most improvements in their performance? When it comes to creating adaptation within the body whether it’s improvements in strength, speed, coordination or power, consistency is one of the most important attributes to your training. If you can maintain a regular routine each week with an appropriate stimulus, you are almost guaranteed to see improvements in performance (or at least maintenance at higher levels of performance).
Overtake the Competition
The old saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it” also applies to athletic performance, where if a particular physical attribute is neglected, we will often see a decline in its markers. An example of this was seen on a global scale over the past two years due to a significant decline in training regimes owing to a global pandemic caused by COVID-19. The restrictions put in place because of the pandemic subsequently resulted in the detraining and an increased risk of injury of a huge number of athletes when returning to sport, with some individuals still feeling the effects much later. The athletes who maintained a routine during this time were much more successful with returning to competition and at much less risk of injury. The same approach should be given for maintaining a training regime during the winter, whether you are in competition or not. Those that can maintain a routine will notice the continued benefits, be able to overtake their sporting peers who are putting in less work and maintain a reduced risk of injury by avoiding the effects of detraining. It’s important to note that a small break isn’t the end of the world and can sometimes be beneficial, however it only takes a few weeks to see the effects of detraining start to sink in.
Maintain Mental Health & Wellness
There aren’t too many training sessions that you regret attending afterwards but there are plenty that you might regret if you don’t end up making. Apart from the obvious physical benefits of maintaining a regular training routine during winter, there are also a multitude of psychological benefits to training as well. Exercise can help improve mood and self-appraisal factors while also maintaining confidence for an athlete competing in their sport. Athletes may also sometimes be susceptible to a higher incidence of sickness than the general population, and this may be more evident during the winter months when colds and flu are more prevalent. Training is a stressor and leads to transient depression of white blood cell function with the immune system reported to decrease in the hours after heavy exertion. Therefore, to maintain wellness during the colder months it may be worthwhile to focus on a diet containing higher amounts of vitamin C and D, garlic, and zinc, as well as maintaining a structured program that accounts for rests and tapers and adequate sleep. The term “eat like an adult, and sleep like a baby” should be adopted by all.
By maintaining a consistent training routine during the winter months, despite the difficulties and lack of motivation, you will be sure to reap the benefits in the long term through overtaking your competition, avoiding risk of injury or detraining performance, and being able to maintain your physical and mental health. So be sure to make those early morning and late-night training sessions regardless of the weather or mood you might be in at the time. You’ll thank yourself when the sunshine rolls back around in spring and the hard work has paid dividends!