180219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 5

180219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 5

Resistance training places high internal and external load demands on the human body. It must be physically prepared to meet and exceed these artificially designed stresses. To successfully adapt, conditions within the body must be favorable. Temperature variations, however, can sometimes overpower the metabolic responses of the organism

“Likewise, clothing next to the skin must also be effective in transporting moisture (wicking action) away from the body’s surface to the next insulating material layer for evaporation.” Polypropylene, a synthetic that insulates and dries quickly, can be very effective in this capacity.
Good workout clothing should “match the weather” and it should “provide a semitropical micro climate for the body and prevent chilling.” (Arnheim, 304)

The covering should be of a synthetic fabric such as polyester, which is lightweight, dries easily and retains its insulating properties even when wet. The fabric should also breathe, i.e., if you sweat, it should allow the water vapors to escape and not be trapped next to your skin. “If the water vapor cannot evaporate through the clothing it will condense, freeze and reduce the insulation value of the clothing and cause the body temperature to go down.” (USAF, 142) 

As a side note, the old woods saying of “cotton kills” is accurate in the weight room as well. When cotton gets wet it loses all of its insulating qualities and remains wet for a long time. Once a piece of clothing becomes wet, especially cotton, heat is transferred outwardly at 25 times its normal rate. (USAF, 143) Wet clothing “actually facilitates heat loss from the body because water conducts heat much faster than air.” (Katch, 505)

Take care to layer your workout clothing. This gives you a chance to regulate the heat by removing some but not all as you warm up during the session. It’s even better to have a button or zipper at the top to allow for a stove pipe effect. A stovepipe effect means you open the top part and allow the air to circulate from the bottom of the garment to escape out the unbuttoned or unzipped top portion.

References Cited for Resistance Training in Cold Weather:

Arnheim, Daniel D. Modern Principles of Athletic Training. Mirror/Mosby. 1989: 303-4.

Houston, Charles, S., M.D. Merck Manual of Medical Information. Simon and Schuster. 1997:1345-7.

Katch, F.I, V.L. Katch, and W.D. McArdle. Exercise Physiology. Lippincott. 1996 (4th ed.): 351, 502-3, 505-21.

Michele, Lyle, J. The Sports Medicine Bible. Harper Collins.


Schneipp, Jason, Terry S. Campbell, Kasey L. Lincoln Powell, and Danny M. Pincivero. “The Effects of Cold-water Immersion on Power Output and Heart rate on Elite Cyclists.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16 (Nov. 2002): 561

Search and Rescue Survival Training. Department of the Air Force, USAF. 1985. (Currently in use at the Survival School)