T Nation

Training in the Cold


#1

Let me start by saying I hate the fucking cold...a lot. I herniated a disk deadlifting when my grip slipped at the lower half of a third rep. Fortunately, I have a sled I can train with (I was planning on saving it for late spring to mid fall), but holy fuck it is cold out here in NY. I really really want to use the sled instead of doing shitty lunges or step ups indoors, but the workout is no longer fun when it's 20 degrees out.

Since I am poor I brought a pair of Wal Mart grade under armor...which actually makes me feel colder (though it does convect the sweat away from my skin so my outerwear doesn't get soggy).

Anyway, what do you guys recommend for training in the cold?


#2

One of my favorite YouTube personalities, kraftsportNO, trains in Norway in his basement. Some of his videos you can see his breath. He squats some impressive weights all the while wrapped up in layers of sweats, hoodies, and so on.

I think it all depends on how well you can warm-up your body. All in all, it doesn’t stay ridiculously cold in the States for long. So you can always just wait till it gets warmer and just train indoors.


#3

I spent the past 5 years training in very northern North Dakota. The winters spent the majority of their time below zero, and I trained in my garage. The best advice is to layer. A good base layer is some thermal underarmor type stuff (long sleeve, upper and lower body). A good hat is essential too. If you need to wear gloves, I prefer a very thin pair so that I still have finger dexterity to train.

Also, double up on socks. Your feet/toes can go numb very quickly.


#4

Layering is the way to go.

Most of the modern layering methods work like this: a base layer for wicking away moisture from the skin, an insulation layer to provide warmth by trapping air, and a shell layer to protect against wind/rain/snow.

There are several “systems” out there, but that’s the basics of it. For the base layers and insulation layers, wool, polyester and polypropylene will be ideal. For the shell layer, nylon is great especially with a water repelling treatment. If you’re just in a garage and not exposed to wind/rain/snow, the shell layer isn’t really necessary.

If you’re outside, it makes a big difference since wind can go right through most insulation and base layers.

For lifting in my garage, most of the time I just use a middleweight base layer on bottom with jeans over that, a lightweight base layer on top, then wool gloves, wool hat, wool socks with boots over the top. Depending on the temperatures and how warmed up I am from my workout, I’ll also use a middleweight layer on top and/or a fleece jacket.

Over the course of the workout, I usually just end up with the lightweight top. My middleweight layer is a fleeced polypropylene.

The other day when I was lifting in -10F windy weather with the garage door open, I was wearing a lightweight and middlweight top and bottom, fleece jacket, jeans, softshell jacket, wool gloves with fleece mittens over them, a wool hat, wool/nylon socks, and a pair of heavy boots. This kept me warm, dry and comfortable. I don’t need nearly as much when it’s 20 or 30F.

A military surplus store is a good place to look for things if they carry any ECWCS or ECWCS GEN III tagged clothing. The prices are going to be cheaper than most other stores for basically equivalent stuff. Even then, it’s not cheap.

Probably most importantly, try to avoid wearing cotton, since it collects moisture (sweat and water vapor), and will keep you cold. This is especially important when you’re active in the cold. If you’re going to wear cotton, try to make sure it’s as close to your outer layer as possible. E.g., undearmor base layer, then wool sweater, then cotton hoodie/sweatshirt. If you’re outside, you can then wear a lightweight rain jacket/windbreaker over that.


#5

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
Fortunately, I have a sled I can train with (I was planning on saving it for late spring to mid fall), but holy fuck it is cold out here in NY. I really really want to use the sled instead of doing shitty lunges or step ups indoors, but the workout is no longer fun when it’s 20 degrees out. [/quote]
Wendler had a few good alternatives in this article:


Some kind of heavy bag is also good for at-home conditioning sessions.

In addition to what was suggested, a small well-positioned heater can make a big difference with garage training. I’m in central Nassau on Long Island and I usually walk a few blocks to the gym. It’s only about five minutes but I haven’t been up for the freezing hike the last few days. Closed garage door with a simple electric heater makes the garage very tolerable.

Also, in general, a more-thorough-than-usual basic warm-up is an obvious choice. A few more mobility drills and a couple extra minutes getting the blood flowing and increasing your core temp can lead to a better overall workout.

There’s also nothing wrong with temporarily paring down your routine so you’re “just” doing the basics. Whatever kind of program you’re on and whatever your goals, it’s almost-definitely acceptable (in the big picture) to “just” spend 15-20ish minutes doing a big basic lift and then call it a day. Especially if it’s only until the weather warms up a little, it’s no biggie.