Your Winter Fitness #Mood

In the midst of a blizzard, when going outside makes you feel like you’re getting frostbite, it’s hard to find your fitness fix. People constantly struggle to find the motivation to abandon their warm blankets and Netflix nights to go to the gym during the winter...and this mentality must end. In order to prevent cramming for your bikini bod just weeks before summer begins, start finding the fierce fitness warrior inside of you now. I collaborated with fitness experts to bring you exercises that are easy enough to tone your body inside the comfort of your own cozy home without having to take a trip to the sweaty gym. (Note: Before beginning any exercise program, be sure to consult with your physician.)

1. “Burpees”

Rachel Grice, the fitness editor for LIVESTRONG.COM, views this exercise as ideal for all levels, and the ultimate way to tone the entire body. “I know they’re the exercise everyone loves to hate, but you don’t need any equipment for it and you can do them anywhere, which is ideal during the winter when all you want to do is curl up on the couch,” says Grice. Plus, burpees are guaranteed to help you break a sweat in the cold weather: “These will warm you up real quick! And once you’re up and moving, it’s easier to maintain your momentum and launch into a full workout.”

How to Do the Exercise:

  1. From a standing position, bend your knees, squat down and place both hands on the floor between your feet.

  2. Jump or step your feet back so you're in a high plank--this is the top of a push-up position. Make sure your abdominals are engaged and you're in a straight line from your head to your toes.

  3. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the ground for one push-up rep. (You can do it from your knees or with your hands on a step/box for an easier variation.)

  4. Push back up to a plank, and then jump or step your feet back to your hands.

  5. As you come back up, reach your hands overhead and jump (or just extend onto your tiptoes if jumping is too hard on your joints).

  6. Land with your knees slightly bent and get ready to start all over again.

  7. Do 5-10 sets. As you become more advanced, you can work your way up to doing 3 sets of 15.

2. “The Banded Floor Bridge”

Certified personal trainer and Pilates Reformer instructor Kris Anne Radtke recommends this move in order to tone your butt and lower body. “Using a resistance band for this exercise allows you to activate more of the glute muscles through the movement and can make it a bit more challenging,” says Radke. “Take it slow your first time and really try to feel the glutes working with each rep!”

How to Do the Exercise:

  1. Have a seat on the floor and place a medium to heavy-looped resistance band around your knees.

  2. Lie on your back with your arms resting by your sides.

  3. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Your ankles should be under your knees and your feet should be slightly wider than hip distance apart.

  4. Push your heels into the floor, lifting your hips and glutes into the air while pushing your knees outward against the band. Make sure that you are keeping tension on the band throughout this entire process.

  5. At the top of the movement, tuck your butt under slightly (posterior tilt) and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. Think “tuck and squeeze” as you do this.

  6. Hold for 2-3 seconds at the top of the movement to get a full glute contraction, then slowly lower your hips back down.

  7. As soon as the glutes touch the floor go right back up for your second rep. (Try to perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps).

3. “Toes to Kettlebell”

This movement specifically targets the abdominal area and helps stabilize your center. Christine Parizo, a CrossFitter and ACTION-certified personal trainer, specifically loves the exercise during the wintertime: “When I used to run in sub-zero temperatures and hit an icy patch, having a strong core meant the difference between staying upright or taking a nasty spill. Even if you don’t run, a strong core is what’s going to keep you from falling if you switch on a patch of ice. Besides, you can definitely show off your great-looking abs during your warm weather vacation this winter.”

How to Do the Exercise:

  1. Invest in a kettlebell for the wintertime (Amazon has a bunch of affordable options) to keep inside your house.

  2. Lay on your back with your arms stretched above your head on the floor, holding on to a kettlebell, and your legs stretched out. Keep your feet relaxed and your knees unlocked.

  3. Keeping your legs straight, slowly raise them over your head to touch your toes to the handle of the kettlebell. It's okay if your toes don't touch. Keep your core engaged and your back as flat as possible on the floor.

  4. Bring your legs back to the starting position. That's one rep. (Start by doing 10-15 reps and increase the number as you see fit).

4. “Basic Lunge”

In trying out challenging fitness moves, it’s often easy to forget that the fundamental ones are just as beneficial. Fitness instructor Elise Bancroft ensures that a basic lunge can be extremely effective in the wintertime, especially since it’s convenient to do without hitting the gym. “Lunges target so many muscles in your legs, including your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and especially quadriceps,” Bancroft explains. “When winter hits and we all inevitably become less active, this exercise makes for a great at-home workout.”

How to Do the Exercise:

  1. Stand with both feet facing forward (about shoulder with apart) and engage your core. It should feel like how your tummy tightens when you cough.

  2. Shift your weight on to your left foot and step forward with your right, planting it directly in front of you and lifting the heel of your back foot.

  3. Bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle as if you’re sitting in a chair. Make sure that your right knee is in line with your right ankle, your right foot is flat on the ground, and your back leg is as straight as possible.

  4. Push up and straighten your right leg with your whole right foot and your leg muscles. Ensure your glute muscles are working by tightening them before you push up.

  5. Step your right foot back in line with your left foot.

  6. Repeat either on the same side or the opposite side by stepping your left foot forward.

  7. Do 3 sets of 15 reps per side.

5. Calf Raises

Just because your shorts are stowed away in your closet doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tone your legs this winter. Nicole Radon, an elite gymnast certified in TRX and Pound Fitness, sees this exercise as essential for the wintertime. “Growing up as a gymnast, I used to do 100 toe raises a day in the wintertime, “ Radon explains. “You need strong calves to trudge through the snow!”

How to Do the Exercise:

  1. Purchase ankle weights or small, five-pound weights.

  2. Find a location that has a ledge (i.e. a staircase or porch)--anywhere your heels can hang below your toes.

  3. If you are using ankle weights, wrap them around your ankles, place your toes on the ledge and raise your heels so you’re on your tiptoes. Hold for about 2 seconds and release down to get a nice stretch in your calf muscles. If you’re having trouble balancing, hold on to either a banister or a partner’s shoulder.

  4. If you’re using weights, hold the weights by your side and perform the same movements.

  5. Do 5 sets of 25 reps every other day. Make sure to always take your time and do not rush through the exercise to get the best results.

6. “Sumo Squats”

Eager to bring out your inner warrior? This exercise not only boosts self-confidence, but it tones the entire body and is easy enough to do inside your own home. “Besides being an incredible exercise for targeting thighs, glutes, and hamstrings, the sumo squat involves an incredible range of motion,” says Mike Michalski, Master Trainer and owner of Variant Fit. “Because of that large range of motion, you’ll be burning more calories, recruiting more muscle groups, and even stretching out and loosening up the hips for more mobility.”

How to do the Exercise:

  1. From a standing position with abdominals tight, execute an inside-out knee raise by bringing your knee up and around to the outside of your body. Lower your foot to the floor just outside your hip, creating a stance slightly wider than hip-width.

  2. Once you have your hip-width stance, move into a deep squat (the lower the better) keeping equal pressure in the feet and a neutral spine as you lower down into your squat.  

  3. As you drive upward out of your squat, you’ll repeat this same sequence (inside-out knee raise into a squat) with the other leg and continue to alternate side-to-side.

  4. Repeat 8-10 times per side for a total of 16-20 reps.

Want to add even more intensity to the exercise?  Here are two ways you can do so:

  • You can add more resistance by resting a pair of dumbbells on your shoulders throughout the exercise.  Even a pair of light dumbbells will make a big difference.

  • If you’re flexible enough, you can turn the inside-out knee raises into inside-out kicks.  Work on making the arc of the inside-out move as big as possible.