The temperature has officially plummeted to subzero territory and the ground is covered in snow and ice. You set your alarm most mornings to get to the gym. But with this doom and gloom outside, it’s easier to hide under the covers and stay warm for an extra hour.
There’s good reason to keep up with your fitness routine in the winter, though. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, per week. They also recommend two days of moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities for good health.
Luckily, you don’t even have to brrr-ave the winter weather to meet these requirements. You can perform these five strength training moves from the comfort of your living room. Add in several sessions of moderate- or vigorous-intensity cardio per week and you’ll stay fit until spring.
The kettlebell swing may be the “perfect” exercise. It boosts endurance and cardiovascular fitness, making for a powerful calorie burn. Form is important though, so start with a lighter weight to get comfortable with the movement and lower your risk of injury.
Equipment needed: light kettlebell
Muscles worked: hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a kettlebell in both hands, out in front of you. Keep your chest up and out, your shoulder blades back and down, and your core tight.
- Keeping your back and neck straight, bend at the hips so the kettlebell goes between and behind your legs.
- Squeeze your glutes and extend your hips, swinging the kettlebell up. It should not go further than your chin.
- Allow the weight to come back between and behind your legs, bending your hips and knees slightly. Control this movement — the weight should not hit your butt.
- Go right into the next rep, squeezing your glutes and extending your hips again.
Squats engage the largest muscles in the body. They have one of the largest payoffs in terms of exertion for calorie burn and strength improvement. When performing this fundamental move, ensure your form is solid before you add any resistance.
Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps
- Start in an upright position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed out. You should hold your chest up and out and your core should be braced.
- Bend your knees and push your hips and butt back as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Keep your chin tucked in.
- Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your weight in your heels and knees tracking the same direction as your toes.
- Extend your legs and return to an upright position.
- Complete up to 20 reps with bodyweight before adding weight.
Burpees are a great total body move. They improve both cardiovascular and muscular endurance, plus strength. They’re challenging, but can be modified for beginners.
Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs, deltoids, triceps, pectoralis
- Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart and arms down at your sides.
- Squat down.
- As soon as your hands reach the ground, pop your legs straight back so you end up in a plank position. Don’t let your hips sag.
- Immediately after you reach the plank position, drop your chest to the floor in a pushup.
- Come back up to the plank position and jump your legs back to your palms by hinging at the waist. Get your feet as close to your hands as you can get, landing your feet outside your hands if necessary.
- Stand up straight, bringing your arms above your head.
Pushups are one of the most fundamental strength exercises you can perform. While they work many muscles, they especially improve upper body strength. Focus on keeping your elbows pointed backward and your neck in a neutral position. If you can’t complete a standard pushup, try a modified version by dropping your knees to the floor or by completing the move off of an elevated bench.
Muscles worked: pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps
- Start in a plank position, with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and feet slightly closer. Pull your shoulder blades back and down to ensure that your back doesn’t sag.
- Bracing your core, start to lower your body down by bending your elbows. Keep the elbows pointing backward.
- Lower yourself until your arms reach a 90-degree angle.
- Explode back up until you reach the starting position.
- Complete 20 reps.
A functional exercise like the stepup helps stability and balance, while also targeting your legs and glutes. Adding a knee drive and backward lunge increases difficulty and effectiveness.
Equipment needed: bench or step that’s about midcalf to knee level
Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps
- Stand, feet together, in front of a bench or step.
- Step onto the bench with your right foot, pushing through your heel and driving your left knee toward the sky.
- Lower your left leg down, stepping backward off the bench.
- Once your left foot reaches the floor, lunge backward with your right leg.
- Complete 10-15 reps with the right leg, then 10-15 reps with the left for 3 sets, resting 30 seconds to 1 minute in between sets.
A mix of muscle strengthening exercises and cardio will help keep you fit all winter long. Don’t let cold weather stop you from reaching your fitness goals.