Winter - a time for fitness?
Sure - we're all familiar with the regular refrain to get our bodies 'beach-ready', and certainly it's easier to drag ourselves off the sofa when the sun is shining. But the winter is actually a great time to build your fitness, for a variety of reasons:
If you are a cyclist or a runner, going out when it's cold, dark and probably raining may mean that you don't put in maximum effort and just end up doing 'junk' miles - which make you think you are training, but don't actually do much to improve your fitness.
If you are a recreational skier/snowboarder then have probably spent all year doing stuff other than skiing or snowboarding. Just rocking up to the slopes for a week of intense exercise without any preparation is why you end up feeling wiped out by day 3 (roughly 48 hours after you started pushing your muscles to their limits)
See it as an investment in your body which will pay dividends when the sun comes back. It will be much easier to build on a good fitness base than start from scratch when the temperature hits double digits again.
By using sport-specific strength and conditioning training, you can improve your performance without 'bulking up':
Putting in 5 weeks of work before your 1 week holiday will help you immensely. Both disciplines involve constant tension on your leg muscles that can quickly lead to fatigue. And there is nothing worse than being at the top of a slope and finding that your legs are about to give out.
You may be training for the London Marathon, the Big Half, or a 10k, or maybe just your local ParkRun. But whatever your fitness level is and whichever distance you are aiming for, putting in some time over the winter months improving your lower body and core strength will help you go faster and longer. Building up the right combination of muscles can also help reduce knee and ankle injuries.
You may have your eye on the London 100 mile event, a big multi-day challenge such as Coast to Coast, to improve your time trial performance or just be able to cycle faster for longer. MAMILS (and MAWILS) often have a reputation for being weight-weenies - worrying about every gram they are carrying on their bike in an effort to eke out another few marginal gains. Intelligent strength exercises can improve power and efficiency without adding extra weight.
As we get older, we start to lose muscle mass, so it's critical that we do what we can to slow down and even reverse that trend. Regular body-weight or free-weight training sessions will help not just with overall fitness, but our general well-being - making normal movement easier - whether it be picking up your kids, the shopping or kicking a football around your local park.
So, if you fit into any of the groups above, use your time wisely this winter. Put in the time to build your strength and fitness. Come join our WinterFit classes - starting Thursday 16th November.