Fall and Winter Cross-Training: Stay in Shape During Off-Season



Don’t let the cooler temperatures derail your training

Cold weather and brutal blizzards can make it nearly impossible to train outdoors, whether you’re a runner, biker, hiker, or anything in between. But, the key phrase is nearly impossible. It takes some creative thinking and willingness to compromise, but you can still keep your fitness in check if your favorite route is covered in snow and ice.

Winter recreation is great for cross training

You don’t have to become the next great downhill skier or snowboarder to enjoy winter sports. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are both excellent activities to add to your cross-training regime. They’re low impact, so they are great for the joints and tendons. Both will work your lower body along with your core, while helping you build your aerobic endurance. If you’re tired of the treadmill, replace a long run with a long ski or snowshoe outing. You can rent the gear if you don’t own it and the clothing you’ll need is the same as what you might wear on a long run in the cold.

Don’t forget about ice-skating and ice hockey, either. Many skating motions use the same muscles that you use while cycling, and both activities have the added benefit of strengthening your core muscles.

Take your training indoors in the fall and winter months

If you can’t fathom venturing out into the cold, you can certainly take your training indoors. Treadmills are popular amongst runners, but why not make things a bit more interesting?

Pool running

Pools are an athlete’s best friend – if you have access to a pool, use it! You can try pool running, which is excellent for both healthy and injured athletes of all levels. Grab a water belt, head on over to the deep end, and get running. While runners will be the first to gravitate to pool running, the no-impact nature of water workouts is good news for any athlete.

Spin classes

Cyclists and non-cyclists alike will love the brutal, sweaty workout that a spin class involves. Spinning is good for improving the leg muscles and working on aerobic endurance. If you can’t stand the idea of a spin class, hop on a bike (indoors or out – there are bike snow tires!) on your own terms. Elliptical machines Elliptical machines are another popular option for cross-training indoors. Ignore the handles and use the machine hands free, which will force your body to adopt a more natural form. These machines do work different muscles than running or cycling, so use them to complement your other workouts, not to replace them.

Don’t forget activities like yoga and strength training

While much of your fall and winter cross-training should directly support muscle development and fitness for your chosen sport, it’s important to add in activities that develop other parts of the body. Consider adding some strength training into your cross-training regime. Powerlifting moves like the bench press, squat, and deadlift work the entire body, including important stabilizer muscles.

Yoga and Pilates also develop muscles that runners and cyclists don’t directly use, which can actually improve running and cycling performance. For example, a strong core can enhance your form; plus, a strong and flexible body will help you avoid nagging injuries. However you choose to cross-train when the temperatures get chillier, just make sure to add in plenty of variety. Staying in shape during the off-season will be a breeze.