Even the most dedicated athletes can get the winter workout blues in the colder months. You’re tempted by rich, heavy wintertime foods (hello, mac and cheese season); the gym is packed with New Year’s resolution-ers (who are well-intentioned, but can seriously lack gym etiquette, leading some regulars to avoid the place entirely for January and February); the weather is uninspiring to say the least; and you’re covered in layers—the winter is not exactly prime time for workout inspiration, to say the least.
But if you want to look good—and feel great—in July, you need to reinvigorate your
routine in March. We caught up with Billy Polson, founder of Diakadi, for a run-down of his best tips for staying fit and shaking off those cold-weather calories.
Eat Your Way Fit
Beach bodies are built just as much in the kitchen as the gym, Polson says. The best way to bolster your winter workouts is to eat correctly, whether you’re looking to slim down or build muscle. He recommends cleaning your cabinets of all processed foods (powders, bars, packaged foods, cereal, crackers, etc.) in order to avoid wasted calories and to keep your digestive system running clean.
Polson believes that pasture-raised, hard-boiled eggs are your cleanest, smartest snack. If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, swap your protein bar out for an egg and a piece of organic fruit. Instead of a protein shake, try making a homemade organic green smoothie in your blender (one cup water, banana, carrots, kiwi, kale, spinach, frozen berries, raw almonds, coconut).
Make good use of your workout time by doing an 80/20 ratio of strength training to cardio, Polson tells us. If you only have five hours a week for a winter workout, use four of them for strength training, and one hour for interval cardio.
Slow And Steady Might Win The Race, But It Doesn’t Burn The Thighs…
Polson thinks that spending hours doing slow, steady cardio work can be a waste of time. Instead, he suggests trying intervals, where you alternate short bursts of exertion with recovery periods. This will not only make the best use of your cardio time, but is a great way to reduce fat and keep your heart healthy and strong.
Check out Polson’s specific routine below:
Start with a 5 minute warm-up at a medium pace. Then alternate 1-minute sprints (either faster speed or higher incline) with 2-4 minute medium pace recovery periods. Start with 20 minute sessions, working your way towards 30 minute sessions as you become stronger.
If you’ve let yourself be less fitness-oriented this season, start finding more active ways of daily living now! You can find ways to incorporate a little winter workout into your daily life. Polson recommends easy transitions like riding a bike to work, getting off the subway three stops early and walking rest of way, and swapping out the elevator for stairs. If you reach the end of the day and you still need some more activity, then walk around the block or do squats and lunges while watching Modern Family.
Shake Shake Shake It Up
Shake up your winter workout routine to improve your results. If you have been doing the same workout for weeks, months, or even years, then Polson says it is time for an upgrade. Our bodies are incredibly good at adapting, so your workout program needs to stay fresh to maximize your results. He recommends hiring a personal trainer to fully assess you and customize a program to get your results in the most efficient way possible.
If you want to try Polson’s program on your own, he recommends the following:
- Isolated body part days (Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs, Arms) with alternating abs or cardio to end each workout.
- Alternate between a Push (chest, shoulders, triceps) and a Pull (back, rear delts, biceps) workout day with one major leg movement (squats, dead lifts, lunges) each day. Abs to end each workout
- Full body movements every day where you work every body part during your workout, as an athlete does when playing their sport.
- Amp up the volume. If you typically do 3 sets of 12 reps for every exercise, try 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Change the pace of each exercise. If you tend to move at a smooth, steady pace, try going faster or super slow. The key is to keep your form clean no matter what your speed.
- Instead of resting between exercises, do one of the following: 60 seconds of jump rope or cardio, abdominal work, push-ups, squats, etc.
- Looking for a bigger chest on the beach? Do as many push-ups as you can pump out after each set of your normal workout.
- Looking for an incredible shoulder, back and chest mass increase? At the end of every workout, do a 10 minute freestyle swim set using a leg buoy so you are completely focused on upper body muscle-building.
- Do not forget your legs and butt! Weekly, every one of us should have at least one squat set, one sagittal plane lunge set (Front/Back), one frontal plane lunge set (Side/Side), and one dead lift set.
- Do not forget your back! Half of looking good and having a muscular chest is a strong back to keep you standing tall and your chest out. If you find that your shoulders are rounded forward or hunched, make sure you perform 2 pull movements (i.e. pull-ups, rows, pull-downs) for every 1 push movement (bench press, push-ups, etc).