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Winter Fitness: 6 Great Indoor Workouts For Snow Days

Sometimes going outside just isn't an option.

By: Kevin Abernethy + Save to a List

We are in the thick of winter and sometimes, as much as we'd like to, El Niño simply won't let us play outside. If you're anything like me, it also get's harder and harder to motivate to get outside as winter drags on. Unless I’m strapping on my skis or waking up in a mountainside cabin, snow days always leave me wishing for warmer weather. Don’t lose motivation and wait until spring to get active again. Use these final weeks of winter to start prepping for your next big outing. Rain, snow, or just brutally cold weather; here are 6 workouts you can do indoors to help you emerge from winter hibernation fit and ready to tackle your next adventure.

Ski to McNamara Hut | Photo: Jason Hatfield

1. Take a lap

It’s never too early, or late, to pull out the swimsuit. Head to your local fitness center to start swimming laps before summer hits. Swimming is a low impact workout and it allows you to exercise longer without additional muscle strain. A normal swimming routine can help build endurance, muscular strength, and cardiovascular fitness; all components we use when venturing out into the wild. One study even suggests that swimming can improve your mood. Not sure where to start? There are several great online resources for workout examples.

2. H.I.I.T it hard

HIIT, or high intensity interval training, has gained popularity over the past couple of years, and rightfully so. If you are unfamiliar with the routine you basically give all-out effort for a short amount of time and then follow up with low intensity recovery periods. I am big fan of interval training, but the proof is in the pudding, or the results in this case. Interval training is super-efficient, you can knock out a short workout in as little as 10-15 minutes. Additionally, the high intensity nature of the workout also kicks your body’s repair cycle into overdrive. This means you will burn more fat in the 24-36 hours after your routine than you would with traditional steady state exercise. The intensity of the workout also puts you into the anaerobic training zone; the body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the supply of oxygen that is available. Training in your anaerobic zone will ultimately build overall strength, increase the amount of oxygen you can use while exercising (or scaling that mountain), and perhaps most importantly it will increase your endurance and the ability to withstand fatigue. Here is a great list of HIIT based workouts to get you started.

3. Swing away

Kettlebells are fairly new to the workout scene but they have been used for sport and competition since the 40’s. Kettlebells help incorporate your muscular and cardiovascular system, increase your resistance to injury by improving your range of motion, and some studies say you can burn up to 20 calories a minute with specific exercises. Kettlebell workouts are also a great form of functional training, meaning the flow of the exercises work motor and balance skills more than traditional resistance exercises. If you’re anything like me you can use plenty of help in the balance area when carrying around a 50lb backpack through the forest. Check out a great full body kettlebell routine here.

4. Drop the weights

Not a fan of the gym? Want to stay in the comfort of your own home? There are countless options for great body weight exercises that you can knock out in your living room. Body weight exercises are extremely underrated, with a 30 minute workout you can see consistent improvements with your strength and endurance. Want to keep things real simple? Spend 30 minutes alternating between 10 pushups, 10 body weight squats, and 10 crunches.

5. Be a Zen master

I will never forget the first yoga class I took, I quickly realized it was more than just a stretching routine. Yoga can help improve your strength and flexibility and you are almost guaranteed to work up a sweat. Additionally, a Harvard study even suggests yoga can reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue. There are numerous styles of yoga and most studio’s offer beginner classes with experienced instructors to help you perfect your poses. If you are intimidated by the group atmosphere there are great online tutorials to help you flow through a workout. If you have never tried yoga I strongly recommend you give it a shot, especially if you are into climbing or canyoneering. If you are struggling during the workout just think about how great this pose will be at the end of your session.

6. Hang it up

With advancements in exercise equipment you no longer need a rack of dumbbells or a squat machine to get a good workout. The TRX strap takes up a small amount of space and it works your whole body, including your core. TRX exercises have become so popular numerous professional athletes and military Special Forces units have made them a normal part of their exercise routines. Most of the exercises can be modified depending on how comfortable you are, making the straps a good investment regardless of your fitness level. There are plenty of exercise options, from basic rows to advanced exercises like the spider man pushup. Combine 4-6 upper body exercises with 4-6 lower body exercises and you have a complete routine.

Ski Hut-to-Hut from Uncle Bud's to Skinner Hut | Photo: Jason Hatfield

Winter can seem to last an eternity and if you don’t have the opportunity to be outside doing what you love, spend the free time in the warmth of your house or your local fitness center preparing for your next outdoor adventure. The last thing you want is to get gassed or suffer through a cramp halfway up the peak you’ve been dreaming about since January. Have other ideas for indoor workouts? Comment below and let us know what has been working for you.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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