4 Fun Cold-Weather Cardio Workouts

Treadmill Workouts With a Twist

If you just have to get on the treadmill, consider adding a cardio component to your strength training workouts.

Studies have shown that 15 minutes of cardio intervals before your strength workout, followed by another 15 minutes after the workout will significantly increase calorie burn, maximum heart rate, and the release of muscle building growth hormone.

More: Speed Workouts for Triathletes

Instead of simply performing traditional cardio intervals or Fartlek's on the treadmill, with periods of max effort followed by walking or jogging, fill the rest periods with a strength training exercise. 

Sample Treadmill Workout

Sprint for 60 seconds followed by the following exercises. Repeat for six rounds. 

After each sprint, perform:

  • 15 push-ups in round one;
  • 15 dumbbell shoulder presses in round two;
  • 15 body-weight squats in round three;
  • up to 10 pull-ups in round four;
  • 10-15 triceps dips in round five;
  • 5 lunges each leg in round six.

Tabata Protocol

After a five- to 10-minute warm up, set the treadmill to a 10-percent to 12-percent incline and ramp up the speed to a sprint.

Perform 20 seconds of high-intensity work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for eight to 12 sets.

Training using the Tabata technique increases stride frequency and encourages forefoot running, while increasing total caloric output. This same technique can be applied to cycling on a spin bike or indoor trainer.

Recreational Sports

For the "serious" triathlete out there, replacing a training run with indoor soccer or pick-up basketball might seem crazy. There's no reason exercise cannot be enjoyable, especially during the offseason. 

Forget about setting PRs in the dead of winter when race season is months away. Give your body and mind a break from the demands and structure of a rigid training plan. 

More: 6 Offseason Tips for Triathletes

Don't think that just because recreation is in the title that it means the activities are going to be easy.

Soccer, basketball, and even ultimate Frisbee might be more challenging than you think.

Be prepared to perform intervals (start and stop during soccer and basketball), plyometrics (jumping and lateral movement in basketball), and recruit different muscles than you are accustomed to.

Brave the Cold

If you can't avoid heading out in a wintery mix, dress for the elements.

Start with a pair of off-road shoes that offer more grip for improved traction; consider treating them with a waterproof spray.

More: Fueling for Cold-Weather Exercise

Dress in layers, being sure to avoid cotton. Once cotton is wet it will stay wet, weighing you down and stealing your heat.

Winter workout layers should include breathable base layer tops and bottoms, various mid-layer tops that wick moisture, and outerwear that sheds or repels water.

Base and mid-layers should be fleece, wool, down, or a breathable synthetic.

Top layers should be waterproof and/or windproof. A warm beanie, neck gaiter, face mask, balaclavas, and gloves are also important to have on hand. Lastly, ski-specific or wool socks will help prevent frozen toes.

More: How to Train in Cold Weather

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