Planning For Frigid Fitness

Clearly this guy didn't get the memo about the importance of wearing layered clothing...
Clearly this guy didn't get the memo about the importance of wearing layered clothing...

Ok….we’re busted. Our gym may be totally awesome, but right now there’s one thing it isn’t… and that’s WARM!

Even though we’re exercising mostly indoors, we still need to beware of our body temperature!  Here are some important tips on exercising effectively and safely in a cold snap like we’re having right now.

When you exercise in a cold environment you must consider one primary factor: how much heat will your body lose during exercise?  Heat loss is controlled in two ways:

1. Insulation, consisting of body fat plus clothing.

2. Environmental factors, including temperature, wind, rain, snow, etc. Each of these factors plays a role in the body’s ability to maintain a comfortable temperature during exercise.

Clothing adds to the insulation barrier and is clearly the most important element in performance and comfort while exercising in the cold!  This is why it’s a good idea to wear layers to the gym.  If you have various items of clothing that you can peel off as you gradually warm up, you’re likely to be more comfortable and function at a higher level throughout the class time.  By wearing clothing in layers, you have the ability to change the amount of insulation that is needed.  It is important to avoid heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and retain water! Because these materials cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin, they can increase the amount of heat your body loses as you exercise.  As an example, studies have shown that heat loss from the head alone is about 50 percent at the freezing mark (and this week’s temperatures are BELOW freezing!).  By simply wearing a hat or toque, subjects were able to stay warmer indefinitely.

Clothing is generally a good insulator because it has the ability to trap air, a poor conductor of heat.  If the air trapped by the clothing cannot conduct the heat away from the body, body temperature will be maintained. Unlike air, however, water is a rapid conductor of heat and even in the coldest of temperatures, people will sweat and risk significant heat loss.  With this in mind, you want to choose clothing that can trap air yet allow sweat to pass through, away from the body.  And we all know we’ll get sweaty doing our WOD, so plan for this accordingly!

Keeping the hands and feet warm is a common concern when exercising in the cold.  Lower temperatures cause blood to be shunted away from the hands and feet to the center of the body to keep the internal organs warm and protected. Superficial warming of the hands will return blood flow to prevent tissue damage.  Blood flow will not return to the feet unless the temperature of the torso is normal or slightly higher (.5-1.0 degree Fahrenheit (F) above normal).  So, to keep your feet warm you must also keep the rest of your body warm at all times.  If exercising outside, it is also advisable to warm the air being inhaled into your lungs.  This can be done by wearing a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth, which will warm the air being inhaled.

Recap of rules for exercising in the cold, inside and out:

* Check the temperature and wind conditions before you go outside and do not exercise if conditions are dangerous.

* Keep your head, hands and feet warm.

* Dress in layers that can provide a trapped layer of dry air near the skin (avoid cotton sweats and other similar materials).

* Warm the air you are breathing if temperatures are below your comfort level (usually around 0° F).

And most of all when exercising in the cold, keep that attitude of fun!  🙂

Today’s Workout: Tough Gal Tuesday

**Everyone please wear several layers to the gym today!  This includes gloves, and even a hat.  It’s cold in there, and we want you to be able to keep your body and muscles warm until you’ve revved up your heart rate and can start peeling off the layers. **

Buy-in: 3 rounds of – 5 goblet squats, 10 kettlebell swings, 15 situps

WOD:  Trifecta

High-rep back squats have the potential to be pretty hard on your body in terms of loading your back and getting your legs really sore.  If you haven’t done many squats ever (or recently), consider scaling down the number of reps (aim for 8-10 per round) and the load you are using.

Elite – 4 rounds for max total repetitions of:

  • 30 sec back squats (135/185)
  • 30 sec rest
  • 30 sec box jumps (20/24)
  • 30 sec rest
  • 30 sec burpees
  • 60 sec rest

Zone 4 – scale squats to 115/155

Zone 3 – scale squats to 85/135

Zone 2 – scale squats to 65/95, scale box jump height

Zone 1 – scale as needed

Cash-Out: Quad, hamstring, and glute stretches


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