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Winter Workouts: Beat the Cold With These Hot Exercises!

Holly Smith

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

winter workouts

Working out in the winter can be a challenge for busy moms — unless you have an arsenal of fun and effective winter workouts at your disposal!

After the holidays, you are looking to attain the fitness goals you have set for the new year.

Unfortunately, the dark and cold winter days make it tough to stick to your exercise routine.

Plus, if you are working from home and/or your kids are doing remote learning, this only adds to an already loaded schedule.

The shorter days, snow, and ice can make it hard to stick to your outdoor workouts.

Dark and chilly months can also lead to a loss of motivation to even want to exercise indoors!

Luckily, there are ways to stay in shape with winter workouts, both indoors and outdoors.

Many of these options can be done from home, and you can even include your family in the fun.

Ready for some fun winter workouts?

Looking for more ways to spend time with your family outdoors? Check out these backyard workouts!

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Creating Your Winter Workouts

If you want to stay accountable for your fitness during the winter months, it helps to write out a schedule that you can stick to.

By writing down specific workouts and times, you can tailor your fitness program around your kids and your own work schedule.

Each week you will want to incorporate metabolic resistance training, cardio, and balance and mobility workouts so that you are targeting total body fitness.

Here is a general blueprint for what your week should look like.

You can move around the days based on what your schedule allows as long as you try to hit all the main components of the winter workouts.

  • Monday: Cardio
  • Tuesday: Full Body Weight Training/Resistance Training
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Full Body Weight Training/Metabolic Resistance Training
  • Friday: Balance and Mobility Workouts
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest or 3rd Full Body Weight Training/Resistance Training

By actually planning your week of workouts ahead of time you can ensure adequate rest and recovery between sessions.

Giving yourself 48 hours between each strength training session allows proper recovery time for muscle rebuilding.

For moms just starting a new fitness routine, you can start with just two resistance workouts a week, and gradually add in the third session as your fitness improves.

Full Body Strength Training During the Winter Months

Full-body resistance or weight training is important all year round, but especially so in the winter as your motivation starts to dip.

Increasing and maintaining lean muscle mass will not only give you a toned physique and improved strength, but it will also increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day.

A lot of women tend to focus more on aerobic workouts or activities like yoga and Pilates.

While these are great exercises and should definitely be incorporated into a fitness routine, weight lifting and strength training should not be ignored.

Busy moms don’t have limitless hours that they can spend each day devoted to specific workouts.

That’s why you need efficient workouts where you can build strength and cardiovascular endurance all at once.

This is where full-body resistance training is the perfect option.

By using compound exercises and hitting all the major muscle groups, you will also get your heart rate up and enhance your aerobic endurance along with building strength.

You can get killer full-body workouts using just your bodyweight or a set of light dumbbells or resistance bands.

With a lot of gyms still closed, this means you can do these exercises right in your own living room.

This full-body workout can be done at home with no equipment!

Winter Strength Workout

Studies have shown that you can achieve similar muscle growth using high weights with low reps or high reps with low weight, as long as the exercise is done to failure.

So on the days where you aren’t able to use free weights, you can still challenge yourself by increasing reps of bodyweight exercises to fatigue your muscles.

Another way to challenge the muscles is to modify the exercise positions to add resistance.

This means that even without weights or equipment, you can still get a killer workout using just your bodyweight.

Try this full-body resistance workout 2-3 times a week.

You’ll forget all about the cold as you pump out the reps in this winter workout sweat session!

This bodyweight workout will target the upper and lower body and requires no equipment.

Perform 8-10 reps of each move then move to the next exercise.

Repeat the whole circuit 2-3 times depending on your current level of fitness.

Standard Push-Ups

  • Position your hands under your shoulders with your feet straight behind you.
  • Lower your chest towards the ground, pause, and then extend your arms to push back up.

Push-ups are the ultimate bodyweight chest workout, and will also work your triceps, shoulders, and even back and core muscles.

When you don’t have access to a gym to do bench presses, there are your go-to to strengthen your whole upper body.

Body Weight Squats

  • Start in a standing position.
  • Drive your hips back and bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Then drive your legs back up to the top.

Squats are an excellent way to build your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

You can add intensity to this exercise by exploding up into a jump before landing and starting the next rep.

Arm Hauler

  • Lie on your stomach with your chest lifted and arms behind you.
  • Extend your arms out to the side and then swing them around until they meet in front of your face.
  • Then slowly swing the arms back behind you again.
  • Keep your chest lifted throughout this exercise.

This exercise will engage the lats as you move your arms in front and extend the arms behind your body.

Pike Push-Ups

  • Start in a push-up position.
  • Lift your hips so that your body forms an upside-down V.
  • Your legs and arms should stay as straight as possible.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your upper body until the top of your head nearly touches the floor.
  • Pause, and then push yourself back up until your arms are straight.

This bodyweight exercise will target the shoulders as you are lowering your body from a higher angle than a standard push-up.

Glute Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended to the sides.
  • Keep your feet on the ground and bend your knees.
  • Drive your hips to the ceiling as you squeeze your glutes.
  • Pause, then return your hips back to the floor.

This is a great exercise to target your glutes and hamstrings, and will also help strengthen your lower back.

Elbow Plank

  • Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows below your shoulders and legs extended behind you.
  • Engage your core and hold this position for 30 seconds.

This is not only an abdominal exercise.

It is also great for shoulder stability and muscle endurance of the lower back, neck, and legs.

Try this full-body resistance band workout to stay fit!

Cardio/Interval Training

You want to be sure to challenge your cardiovascular system in any workout program.

Interval training is perfect for at-home cardio.

This can be done with minimal to no equipment, and all you need is a small area of free space.

Warm-Up

Perform each movement for 30 seconds, then move right into the next move.

  • Jog in Place
  • Jumping Jacks
  • High Knees
  • Arm Circles-15 seconds forward, 15 seconds backward

Repeat twice through, rest for one minute, then move into the main set.

Main Workout

Perform each exercise as fast as you can for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.

Squat with Front Kick

  • Squat down, stand back up, then kick forward with the right leg.
  • Bring the right leg back, squat again, then kick forward with the left leg as you stand.
  • Continue alternating sides.

Bear Crawls with Push-Ups

  • Squat down and walk your hands out into a plank.
  • Do a push-up, then walk the hands back and stand up.

Side to Side Plank Abs

  • Start in a plank position.
  • Hop both feet up to the right, trying to bring your knees to the outside of your right elbow.
  • Hop back into the plank position, then bring your knees to the left.
  • Continue alternating sides.

Tricep Dips with Leg Extension

  • Using a chair or step, lower into a tricep dip.
  • As you push up, straighten your right leg and reach your left hand towards your right toe.
  • Lower your leg and repeat, alternating sides.

Push-Up to a Side Plank

  • Start in a plank position and lower down into a push-up.
  • As you push back up, rotate your body to the right, moving your right arm straight up into a side plank.
  • Rotate back, do another push-up, and then do a side plank to the left.
  • Continue alternating sides after each push-up.

Superman Pulses

  • Lay on your stomach on the floor or exercise mat.
  • Extend your arms in front of you.
  • Contract our glutes and back to raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor.
  • Once in this position, pulse your arms up and down by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Lower your arms, legs, and chest back down after the 30-second interval.

Cool Down

Cool down with some gentle stretches, such as hamstring and quad stretches for the legs, and tricep and shoulder stretches for the arms.

Here's a 15-minute HIIT workout that can be done at home with no equipment!

Don’t Forget Mobility and Balance Work!

Mobility and balance workouts build a solid core, which is the foundation for all of your other activities.

Balance and flexibility become even more important as you age to improve flexibility, range of motion, and coordination

Plus, this helps maintain healthy muscles and connective tissue and reduce your risk for injuries.

On top of all of this, these exercises will improve your strength and aerobic fitness as well.

For example, a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants in a Pilates class were able to improve their muscular endurance and flexibility using relatively low-intensity Pilates exercises.

Think of this day as an active recovery day.

This is a great time to do some light stretching and balance moves in the comfort of your own home.

Here are some sample balance and mobility moves that you can incorporate into your weekly winter workouts.

At Home Mobility and Balance Exercises

Tree Pose

  • Stand with your arms at your sides.
  • Keep your weight on your left leg and place the sole of your right foot inside of your left thigh.
  • Once balanced, bring your hands in front of you in a prayer position.
  • Extend your arms overhead, separated and facing each other.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Lower and repeat on the right side.

Downward Facing Dog

  • Start on all fours with hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Move your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers wide.
  • Press your palms into the floor and press your butt toward the ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V position.
  • The feet should be about hip-width apart with the knees slightly bent.
  • Hold for three deep breaths.
  • Come into a plank position, and then return to the downward facing dog for another three breaths.

Upward Facing Dog

  • Start by lying on your stomach with your hands near your shoulders.
  • Inhale and press your hands firmly into the floor and slightly back.
  • Straighten your arms and lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor.
  • Hold for three deep breaths.
  • Straighten into a plank position, then return to the upward facing dog for another three breaths.

Seated Twist

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended.
  • Cross your right foot over the outside of your left thigh.
  • Keep your right knee pointed up.
  • Then place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
  • Place your right hand on the floor behind you near your lower back.
  • Twist to the right as far as you can.
  • Hold this for 30 seconds.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel on your right knee and place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you with your knee bent.
  • Lean forward stretching your right hip towards the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Child’s Pose

  • Sit up on your heels.
  • Bring your torso forward, and allow your forehead to rest on the mat or floor in front of you.
  • Lower your chest as close to your knees as you comfortably can, extending your arms in front of you.
  • Hold the pose and take several deep breaths.

Check out these 10 stretches for women over 40 that you should be doing every day!

Winter Cardio

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you should neglect your cardio workouts.

If your gym is still open there is always the option to join a fitness class or jump on the treadmill at your fitness center.

However, if you don’t enjoy wearing a mask while you workout, there are plenty of ways to add cardio at home and outdoors.

Even if you love running or biking outdoors, that isn’t always possible in the winter, even with the best preparation.

Dangerously cold wind chills, winter storms, and icy roads mean that at some point you will need to move your workouts indoors.

If COVID still has your gym locked down, don’t worry!

You can still get high-quality cardio workouts done from home.

There are a lot of videos and apps that offer great at-home programs that include circuit workouts, yoga, Pilates, and so much more that don’t require any expensive equipment.

If you have your own exercise equipment at home, that’s a bonus.

If not, the winter months could be a great time to join a gym.

Then you can get your cardio and weight training done all in one place.

While the scenery may not be as great, you can still create some challenging treadmill, indoor bike workouts, or rowing sessions.

If you do have your own cardio equipment companies like Peloton and Nordic Track offer memberships that hook right up to their fitness equipment so that you can bring trainers right into your home.

And of course, the Fit Mother Project has great workout programs and videos available that include high-intensity intervals and strength training.

This means you have no excuse to not get a great workout from anywhere!

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Outdoor Cardio: Stay Safe As the Days Get Shorter

If you enjoy exercising outdoors, you don’t have to stop in the winter.

But the change of season means that it gets dark earlier at night.

This makes it even more important to stay smart and safe during your workouts.

Still, just because it’s dark outside doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout.

The early mornings and evenings in the winter are still great times to get in your cardio as long as you’re prepared.

If you are walking or running outdoors before the sun rises or after sunset you should wear a reflective vest or headlamp.

You can even carry a small flashlight so that others can see you.

You also should be prepared for running on icy or snowy sidewalks and roads.

If you know that your route will be a bit slippery, you can equip your running shoes with spikes or cleats.

Learn about the best types of cardio for fat loss and the science behind cardio for WOMEN!

Choose The Right Winter Weather Gear

The winter days mean cold temperatures and high winds.

While you may feel cold when you begin your workout, your body will start to warm up as you get going.

And when you combine sweat with low temperatures this can make for an even colder workout.

To deal with this you should layer your clothing for outdoor runs.

Be sure to choose fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin so you're not exercising with wet fabric hanging on you.

The inner layer should be a moisture-wicking fabric, so it wicks away sweat and you're not chilled.

The second layer should be a warmer layer, like a long sleeve shirt.

If there is rain or snow you can add a third protective layer, such as a windbreaker.

If you are out for a run or walk you can tie the top layer around your waist when you start to warm up.

You can also choose a loop route that comes back by your house or car so that you can leave extra clothing there as you continue your workout.

Planning your workouts ahead of time will keep you safe and comfortable during your winter workouts.

Workout With Your Kids

Winter is also a great time to get your kids outside for some fun in the snow.

This may be even more important if your kids are still doing remote learning.

Plus, this is a great time to introduce your children to the benefits of an active lifestyle.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

However, the National Survey of Children’s Health found that only 24% of kids this age actually achieve this level of activity.

So if you can get your kids moving now this will set up healthy habits for a lifetime.

You can create circuit workouts indoors.

Or grab some warm running gear and challenge your kids to some jogs around the block.

Whatever you choose, the more enjoyable you make the activities, the more likely your kids will want to stay engaged in fitness.

The snow also offers alternative exercises that the whole family can enjoy.

Skiing and snowboarding are great winter sports that will get your heart pumping and build some serious lower body strength.

These are also great exercises to improve core strength and balance.

Fun activities like sledding will get you amazing exercise from dragging your sleds up and down the hills.

If there is a nearby ice rink, ice skating is another fun winter sport that will keep you and the kids in great shape, and entertained, all at the same time.

This home workout routine for kids will help your children get fit!

Winter Workouts for the Busy Mom

Just because it's cold outside doesn’t mean you should cool off on your workouts.

Winter is the time to build a fitness foundation for the rest of the year.

There are plenty of ways to stay accountable for your winter workouts and to even incorporate them into fun time with the whole family.

By making a schedule and setting goals early on, you can keep yourself accountable so that you don’t make it a habit of skipping winter workouts after a hectic day.

Incorporating resistance training, cardio, and balance exercises every week will improve your overall health and get you a toned and strong body for the upcoming summer months!

Holly Smith
Holly Smith

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on winter workouts.

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