How to Stay Warm During Winter Workouts

stay warm during winter workouts with a hat

While the weather in Houston tends to be mild in winter, dropping into the low 40s, that’s still cold! One of the downsides of CrossFit is that we work out in a space without climate control – no air conditioning, no heaters. It’s functional fitness at its finest, because life doesn’t always happen indoors. And studies show that working out in cold weather is actually more efficient because your heart isn’t working as hard.

But that does make staying warm during cold winter workouts a challenge. Under-dress, and you’re shivering until 3…2…1…GO! Over-dress, and all you’ll be able to think about during the WOD is why you thought long sleeves were a good idea. Layers are your friend during the winter. Here’s how to layer up for a cold winter CrossFit WOD.

Choosing Your Layers

The general rule of thumb for working out is to dress as if it were ten degrees warmer than it actually is. But it leaves out the time you spend briefing the WOD, warming up, and post-WOD cool downs you might do. If a hoodie isn’t enough, consider layering these clothing items to stay warm:

  • A base layer, like a tank top or short-sleeved t-shirt
  • A long-sleeved t-shirt or lightweight hoodie
  • A zip-up fleece or heavier hoodie

If the temperature dips below 40, or you’re still really cold, consider wearing shorts over a pair of running tights or leggings. Alternatively, you could wear sweatpants that have wide enough leg openings so you don’t have to take off your shoes over tights or shorts until you’ve warmed up.

Accessories Matter

While we only lose about 10 percent of our body heat from our heads, covering your ears can help you feel less cold. Wearing a hat or ear warmers keeps the heat in – that’s why you’ll see runners on cold days wearing shorts, a tank top – and a hat or ear warmers.

The same goes for gloves; while you might not want to wear them throughout the entire WOD, wearing them at the beginning can help keep your fingers warm while you wait for the blood to start circulating.

Embrace the Warmup

Any warmup that begins with a row and segues into a tabata is a good warmup for a cold winter workout. You’ll get blood flowing and generate body heat, which in turn will help prevent injuries.

Keep Moving

Cold winter workouts are the time to just keep moving. Whether it’s wall balls or burpees, just keep moving. The constant movement will keep you warm and improve your fitness. If you’re chilly waiting for the GO, air squats or bunny hops can help re-warm you until you get started.

Stay Hydrated

While this isn’t strictly a tip to keep warm, it’s still important. It’s easier to remember to drink water when you’re dripping sweat in the middle of the summer. In the winter, you don’t seem to sweat as much, so you might not drink as much. Staying hydrated can help boost your immune system during the winter cold and flu season, so make sure you drink some water after your workout.

Put Your Layers Back on Before You Leave

Before you leave the box, if you chucked your fleece and hoodie mid-WOD, put them back on. You will cool off quickly, and you’ll likely be shivering before you get to the first stoplight on the way home.

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