The cold and dark winter mornings and evenings makes the temptation to stay in your warm cozy bed or head straight home after work for a hot meal, hard to resist.

When the elements are against you, how do you stay motivated to exercise and stick to your training plan?

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Aim to maintain

Firstly, ditch the conventional winter hibernation! Most people gain weight during winter because they pack it in for three months.

The best way to avoid the winter bulge is to keep eating right and keep hitting the gym or supplementing your plan with home workouts.

You don’t need to make gains during this time, though. Simply aim to maintain the conditioning and fitness you brought into winter. This approach lets you cut back on your workout volume and still maintain your physique if you eat right.

According to a 2021 study published in the journal Sports Medicine, you can make strength training more time-efficient while still getting physical benefits by prioritising bilateral, multi-joint movements through a full range of motion.

The study suggests that you include:

  1. Full dynamic movements (eccentric and concentric muscle actions)
  2. Perform a minimum of one leg pressing exercise (like squats)
  3. Perform one upper-body pulling exercise (pull-ups)
  4. Perform one upper-body pushing exercise (bench press)

Weekly training volume is more important than training frequency and we recommend performing a minimum of 4 weekly sets per muscle group using a 6–15 RM loading range. Advanced training techniques, such as supersets, drop sets and rest-pause training roughly halves training time compared to traditional training, while maintaining training volume,” states the study.

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Hold yourself accountable

When you stop assessing you end up guessing! So don’t stop monitoring and tracking your stats through winter.

Keeping track of important measurements like your weight, body fat and strength will help hold you accountable and maintain your motivation by showing you how effective your maintenance plan is working or how you continue to progress towards your winter workout goals.

So keep tracking your workouts and progress in your workout journal or app, and keep taking progress pictures and recording your measurements.

The numbers that matter:

  • Exercise, reps, sets and weight
  • 1, 5 or 10 rep max
  • Body weight
  • Body fat
  • BMI

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Keep it interesting

One way to keep your motivation levels high during winter is to keep your training routine interesting and varied.

Get creative with your exercise selection. Set yourself a new target. Maybe you could even attempt to master a new technique or training modality?

It might also be the perfect opportunity to get some professional help. Utilising the services of a personal trainer or coach can add a new dimension to your established training routine. Their input and insights could help take your training to the next level or iron out any issues in your current approach to training.

Add a trainer or coach will also have broader arsenal of tried, tested and trusted exercises and workouts to spice up your normal training approach.

Adding these different and, often, challenging workouts will make your training routine more interesting and appealing, which will make it more likely that you will follow the plan and stay focused during the colder months.

READ MORE | Unlock Stiff Winter Joints And Relieve Aches And Pains

Prep for spring training

Winter is a great time to add in some additional core, accessory training and mobility work to your plan.

A weak core and other stabiliser muscles are leading causes of injury, so investing time on targeting any weaknesses in these structures will yield massive returns come spring and summer. This pre-habilitation approach to training is what every successful elite athletes implements in their approach.

After all, “I regret all the extra hard work I put in during the cold winter months”, said no one, ever.

You can perform many of the exercises at home using your body weight or with a few training aids from the Dis-Chem Living Fit range available from Dis-Chem stores and online.

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Book a beach holiday

If your winter motivation struggle is real, set yourself a summer-time target by booking the ultimate beach getaway.

Knowing you’ll need to be in your best shape ever will be incredibly motivating. And it’ll serve as a nice reward for maintaining a healthy diet and exercise programme during the winter months.

You can also up the ante by booking an overseas beach vacation to an idyllic northern hemisphere destination for their sizzling summer in July or August. This will make sure you maintain the intensity and frequency in your training as you prep for your trip.