Unless you're lucky enough to live in locale with year-round warm weather, the annual cold temperatures creep up on every athlete and let them know they're not welcome outside anymore. Rats.
When the racing season wraps up and everyone hibernates for the winter, what's an athlete to do? Sitting on the couch and working yourself out of shape isn't an option for most, but what is?
Here are some ideas to keep your winter fitness level high even when the weather isn't cooperating.
More: 4 Offseason Cycling Tips
When your options are limited, start a weight-training program to build your strength for next race season.
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A study by the University of Science and Technology in Norway concluded that a good strength training program improves running economy without gaining weight. Similar studies have surfaced in cycling, as well.
Find strength-training exercises that mimic the moves you do in your sport. Leg curls are great for runners and cyclists. The bench press is good for freestyle swimmers. Consult with a personal trainer and put together a plan.
Go Inside for Cardio
It might not beat a nice bike ride in the mountains or a run by the beach, but being forced inside for a few months can actually improve your fitness level.
Working out indoors forces you to change your routine and "surprise" your muscles all over again. There's equipment in your local health club that you may not pay much attention to in the warm months, such as:
- The stair machine—A machine that mimics stair climbing, which builds endurance and works the leg muscles extensively.
- Elliptical—a good machine if you need a low-impact workout to recover your body from a rough season. It also uses the upper body better than a treadmill.
- Rowing machine: A great total-body workout that works back muscles, biceps, triceps, chest, core and legs.
Push yourself on one of these, or go to the trusty treadmill or exercise bike. Your conditioning level won't take a hit if you keep at it.