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The RFS Guide to Cold Weather Conditioning

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“I’m a fan of seasons. That’s why I live in California; we skip the shitty ones.” – Daniel Tosh

I don’t have the good fortune that Daniel Tosh does when it comes to having 70 degrees and sunshine year round.

The winter chills are kicking in; those below freezing temps and mounds of snow are my norm. 

It’s a notorious time for depression and fat gain. The lack of Vitamin D and sunshine lead to seasonal sadness, which leads to couch time, which leads to snacking, which leads to even more snacking. 

So much snacking. 

It’s a vicious cycle, but for the bros out there? It’s bulking season, baby.

Cardio and conditioning can get monotonous in the winter, but you don’t have to fall trap to the weather. Many see winter as a time to stay inside and just hop on the treadmill. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Cold Weather Conditioning

In order for me to perform cardio, I need it to be disguised as something else. Either I can’t know that I’m doing it or I need to be tricked into it.

I’m never going to tie my shoes and go for a run. It’s just not anything that I enjoy.

However, when I find myself doing certain activities outside, my competitive nature steps in and I bust my ass to get it done. 

Need to get my groceries into my apartment from the Jeep?

I load up as many bags as I can in each hand and sprint repeatedly up and down 3 floors until it’s done.

Need to shovel the driveway?

I load up the heaviest amount of snow that’s possible on my shovel and go fast as I can.

Call it Sprint Interval Shoveling; I feel like Rocky when I’m doing it.

Just Because It’s Cold Doesn’t Mean You Have to Stay Inside

If there’s snow on the ground, you have two options.

You can either grab some hot chocolate and sit by the fireplace like the 1950’s sitcom show your family’s desperately trying to impersonate, or you can get your ass outside and perform some badassery.

Always choose badassery.

So, go out. Get some sun. Do some work. Attack your training like it’s a Rocky montage and Drago is right around the corner waiting to kill you.

Some people will be able to perform this in their yard. Others will have to find a park. Either way, it’ll be awesome.

Perform in a circuit fashionà:

A1. Rocky Sprints – this is the same thing as a sprint, but you have do it in the snow while thinking about ending the cold war. Aim for 50 yards.
A2. Shovel Throws – toss over your opposite shoulder. The bigger the pile, the bigger the piece of fruitcake you get to have later. Shovel 8 on each side. 
A3. Snow-Leopard Frog Jumps – get deep into the snow and propel yourself forward, dropping into a deep squat each rep. Complete 10 reps.

Repeat until you run out of snow, or after 4-6 rounds.

rocky-movieBonus points if you strike this pose at the end of the workout.

How to Make Indoor Conditioning Fun

There are amazing “functional based” gyms–the turf floors, the ropes, the sleds, the med balls galore– popping up across the country. 

It’s a conditioning workout boner

I know everyone doesn’t have access to that, so we’re not going to cover that today. This is for those of you stuck in the big box gyms, the insert town name Sports Clubs. 

Indoor Conditioning #1 – Dead Tred Sprints

I love these. I don’t remember who I stole these from, but props to them.

These are just like I like my music: brutal and fucking simple. So, turn on Deathcore and try this workout.

A Dead Tred Sprint:

Step 1 – Step onto a treadmill and turn it on.

Step 2 – Sprint as fast as you possibly can for intervals of 10-20 seconds.

Step 3 – Rest for an interval of time that is 3 times as long as you sprint. For a 10 second sprint, rest 40 seconds. For a 20 second sprint, rest 60 seconds.

Aim to go for 10-15 minutes. It will be all you need.

Indoor Conditioning #2 – Javorek Complexes

I’m always down to perform something that’s going to make my heart rate skyrocket while simultaneously creating a gigantic pump.

Istvan Javorek developed a method that is simple, brutal, and dangerously effective at getting you ripped.

All you need is one barbell. Perform the prescribed reps for each exercise before moving onto the next one – never let the barbell down in the process!

Perform all exercises in a row, no rest between exercises. 

A1. Deadlift – 6 reps
A2. Bent Over Row – 6 reps
A3. Hang Power Clean – 6 reps
A4. Push Press – 6 reps
A5. Squat – 6 reps

Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat. Perform 3-5 sets.

The weight you use should be dictated by the weight you need for the exercise that is most difficult to perform (for most, that’ll be either the push press or bent over row). Choose a weight around your 8 or 10 rep max.

Once you get more familiar with it, push the weights and try and go as hard as you can.

It’s simple and, once completed, will leave you on the floor gasping for air!

Indoor Conditioning #3 – DB Circuits

I’m against traditional cardio, per say, I just prefer to use methods that get the heart rate up faster while challenging the whole body.

Plus, running is boring as hell.

There. I said it. Deal with it.

Unlike a Javorek Complex, you can utilize completely unrelated exercises for these circuits.

I like to use these to either attack every movement pattern or target weak areas that I’m paying special attention to.

Perform in a circuit fashion timing each station for 30 seconds.

A1. Goblet Squats
A2. DB Overhead Press
A3. DB Reverse Lunge
A4. Inverted Row
A5. Lateral Lunges
A6. DB Upright Row
A7. Elbows to Hands Plank
A8. Bent Over DB Row

Fancy isn’t it?

Of course not. It shouldn’t be.

After you perform all 8 exercises, rest for around 60-90 seconds and then repeat for 4-6 rounds.

Attack Winter Head-on

You shouldn’t have to overthink your cardio or even dread it. It can be fun and should be something you maintain year round, because you know what? No one ever regretted staying in shape.

You can’t stay cooped up inside, making excuses forever. Use these methods to keep yourself in check during the winter months, and let me know how it goes.

Do you have a favorite winter cardio workout? Put it below – I want to know! 

About the Author

Bob Thompson is a strength coach based out of Philadelphia where he owns multiple sports performance and body transformation facilities. He can be found over at his site discussing the finer points of transforming your physique...like eating steak, crushing carbs, chasing the pump, and lifting heavy things.

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