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Winter Fitness Challenge | 5 Workouts When the Weather is Bad

Feb 19, 2019

This is the perfect time for a winter fitness challenge!

So, if you have been down due to the weather, now is the time to make the change.

Due to the weather, many give up, and wait until everything gets clear and warm.

Regardless, when the weather is bad, these 5 workouts will keep you in shape and on track.

These 5 very effective exercises can be done in your bedroom, hotel room, or wherever you are stuck inside.


What Makes a Complete Winter Fitness Challenge?

Winter Fitness Challenge --muscular snowmanThere are a few components of a winter fitness challenge that will make it complete. 

You don’t have to do everything to get a good workout, but you must have a workout that is balanced. 

A balanced workout will have some form of resistance training that will work your arms and legs, chest and shoulders. 

It should include exercises that focus on your torso.

Don’t forget abdominal exercises in addition to lower back and upper back movements. 

All these can be done with little or no equipment using calisthenics and isometrics combined with just your body weight. 

If you add in some dumbbells or elastic bands you can make your exercises ten times more effective!

Related: Become Optimally Fit at Home: 6 Accessories to Succeed


Don’t Forget the Cardio for your Winter Fitness Challenge

Winter Fitness Challenge -- woman running in the snowThe remaining element in your winter fitness challenge when the weather is bad is cardio-vascular exercise. 

You don’t need any equipment to walk in place or around the house, or go up and down steps.

By adding jumping jacks and a jump rope you can make it more exciting. 

The cardio will get the heart pumping faster, maintaining cardiovascular health, as well as, a higher fat burning metabolism.

When all these components come together they make a complete workout.

Related: Daily Fitness Schedule: How to Make a Well-Rounded Routine


Do Something Every Day During your Winter Fitness Challenge

You don’t have to do a full body workout a few times a week.

Instead, you can do a split routine where you do upper body one day and the lower body the next day. 

Then abdominal and lower back movements can be mixed in as “rest” exercises.

By adding short intervals of cardio options in between sets you allow the muscle groups time to recover.

Don’t forget the importance of warming up before you start your winter fitness workout!

Below: How to Work Out in the Winter


1. Abdominal Crunches Followed by Plank

Crunches target the rectus abdominis,  or what we usually call the ‘6-pack muscles’ that run along the front of the torso.

Try three sets of 30 crunches followed immediately by a full plank.


How to do an Ab Crunch

The setup for a crunch is like a sit-up:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Bend your legs and place your feet on the floor.
  3. Cross your hands to opposite shoulders, or place them behind your ears without pulling on your neck.
  4. Lift your head and shoulder blades from the ground. Exhale as you rise.
  5. Inhale as you lower, and return to your starting point.


How to do a Plank

Winter Fitness Challenge -- woman doing a plank

Planks target the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, glutes, and core.

Also, this exercise is meant to create tension throughout your entire core, as well as your legs and upper body.

Keep that tension by flexing and squeezing all of your muscles as hard as you can while maintaining your form.

  1. Place your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists.
  2. Extend your legs behind you, feet hip-width apart.
  3. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core, butt, and quads.
  4. Remember to keep your butt down.

Hold your plank for 60 seconds.

Do this continuously with only 20 seconds of rest between each set.


2. Mountain Climbers

Winter Fitness Challenge -- woman doing mountain climbers

Mountain Climbers are a killer exercise that gets your heart rate up fast while also firing nearly every muscle group in the body.

This exercise gives you that great combination of strength training, cardio, and core strength all rolled into one! 

You work the deltoids, biceps, triceps, chest, obliques, abdominals, quads, hamstrings and hip abductors.


How to Do Mountain Climbers

  1. Start in a solid plank position with arms and legs long.
  2. Keep your abs tight and pulled in, your body straight.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and keep your shoulders away from your ears
  4. Pull your right knee into your chest.  
  5. As the knee draws to the chest, tighten your core as much as you can so that your body doesn’t sag or come out of its plank position.
  6. Quickly switch and pull the left knee in.
  7. At the same time push your right leg back, pull your left knee into the chest using the same form.
  8. Continue to switch knees. Pull the knees in right, left, right, left—always switching simultaneously so that you are using a “running” motion.

As you speed up, be aware of your body position–keep a straight line in your spine and don’t let your head droop.

Remember that core body stability is crucial here.


Standing Mountain Climbers

Winter Fitness Challenge -- man doing a standing mountain climber

If you aren’t ready for mountain climbers in a plank position then one option is to do them standing up.

  1. Get your knees up as high and as fast as possible for 60 seconds.
  2. Do these two times in a row with only 30 seconds rest between each set


3. Push Ups and Full-Body Plank, ISO Hold

In the standard push up, the following muscles are targeted: the pectorals, deltoids, triceps, abdominals, and the “wing” muscles directly under your armpit–the serratus anterior

Next, do a push-up either on your toes or knees for three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

For your last repetition, hold a full-body plank with a slight bend in your elbows for 60 seconds.

Knee or incline push-ups are both better than trying to crank out full push-ups incorrectly. 


 How to Do Push Ups

  1. Get down on all fours, place your hands shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Get into a plank position by straightening your arms and legs. 
  3. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. 
  4. Pause, then push yourself back up. 

Rest for 20 seconds between each set.


4. Standing Stationary Lunge Squat with Three-Second Hold Squats

Stationary lunges are one of the best ways to work your entire lower body.

You can do them anywhere for firmer glutes, stronger legs, and improved balance. 

Below: How to do Stationary Lunges


How to do  Standing Stationary Lunge Squat

  1. Begin by standing tall with your feet hip distance apart then take a large step backward with one foot.
  2. Lower the back knee to a 90-degree-angle so both knees are bent then press up to start position and repeat.  
  3. After the desired number of reps, switch legs.

 Do three sets on each side for 20 reps each. Immediately after this exercise, go into a regular squat.


How to Squat

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and your knees, ankles and hips in a straight line.
  2. Push your butt back and down—imagine that you are sitting down in a chair.
  3. Keep your knees over your ankles as you lower—don’t let your knees extend over the middle of your foot or past your toes.
  4. Engage your core to protect your lower back.
  5. Keep your torso upright and your chest reaching up not leaning forward over your legs.
  6. Make sure your weight is in your heels. You can check this by trying to lift your toes off the ground while you are at the bottom of your squat.  
  7. Engage your core and then push through your heels to return to standing.

Every time you go down (eccentric phase), hold for three seconds and then come up (concentric phase).

Related: Concentric vs Eccentric: How Do They Affect Your Squats?


5. Superman with Arms Straight Out

Winter Fitness Challenge -- Superman with Arms Straight Out

This exercise is named for the position of the legs and arms.

So, when you are in the contracted position, you should look like Superman when he is flying.

The exercise targets the erector spinae, a group of muscles that extend from the base of the skull to the sacrum.

Practice this exercise a few times a week to build lower back strength, prevent back pain and improve your posture.


 How to do an Isometric Superman

  1. Start by lying straight with your face down on the floor or exercise mat.
  2. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you.
  3. Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor and hold this contraction for 2 seconds. 
  4. Slowly begin to lower your arms, legs, and chest back down to the starting position while inhaling.
  5. Immediately after the 30 seconds, pretend that you are swimming.
  6. Contract your butt as you flutter your legs and your arms, and do this movement for 60 seconds.

Tip: Squeeze your lower back to get the best results from this exercise. Remember to exhale during this movement. 

Hold that position on your stomach for 30 seconds.

Do three sets of this with a 20-second rest between each set.

This is just a small sampling of all the winter fitness challenge workouts you can do when the weather is bad.

Remember there are many options and substitutions to keep your workouts varied and interesting.


Running Alternatives for your Winter Fitness Challenge

Winter Fitness Challenge --woman climbing stairs

Get your heart pumping indoors with cardio exercises you can do at home, such as:

  • Climbing Stairs
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees
  • Jump rope
  • High Knees


Calisthenics for your Winter Fitness Challenge

The military has used calisthenics, or bodyweight exercises, for years to get their soldiers strong.

Calisthenics can be easily done in your house without having to buy any special equipment.

Performing three or four of these exercises three or four times a week will help you grow stronger all winter long.

  • Push-ups
  • Crunches
  • Leg Lifts
  • Planks
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Chair Dips
  • Calf raises

 Another great addition to any calisthenics workout is the pull-up. 

For instance, if you have a bar of some type in the house, then try it as a flexed arm hang or full pull up. 

Pull-ups can be added to your push up routine, you can add those into every other set.

Related: The Calisthenics Workout that Will Transform You from Beginner to Beast


Other Fun Ways to Conquer Your Winter Fitness Challenge:

Winter Fitness Challenge -- playing cards

  • Get a deck of cards. 
  • Pick three exercises you like–one upper body, lower body, and stomach exercise. 
  • Go through the deck of cards one at a time and, as an example, do a pushup, crunch, and a squat for each of the cards. 
  • Do the number of the card if 2-10, but all face cards equal 15 reps. 
    • Aces equal 20 reps. 
    • A joker will equal 25-50 reps depending on your fitness level. 

You can get creative and have some fun with this workout by changing it up regularly.

  • Rotate in step-ups onto chairs or a low table for a hard leg and cardio mix workout. 

Just step up and step down repeatedly to get your heart pumping.

Below: How to Use a Deck of Cards to Complete a Workout at Home


Find Your Ideal Indoor Workout for your Winter Fitness Challenge

If you can’t motivate yourself to work out at home, it might be time to find a gym that offers your favorite type of workout.

So, you can check out cycling classes if you are a bicyclist.

Or if running is your thing, sign up at a place with tons of treadmills.

Basically, staying healthy throughout the winter is worth the investment.

You can keep exercising all winter—without worrying about frostbite.

It might take you a few tries to find an indoor workout you love, but don’t give up; you might just find your new favorite activity.

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