040319 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 7

040319 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 7

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

Now you have been exposed to a few of the problems of cold weather exercising it is time to take advantage of the situation. A solid warm-up is an absolute. A warm up prepares the body for the upcoming activity by loosening the muscles, moving the blood faster, and increasing the breathing rate.
Daniel D. Arnheim states in his book Modern Principles of Athletic Training on page 303

“An athlete may fail to warm up sufficiently or may become chilled because of relative inactivity for varying periods of time demanded by the particular sport either during competition of training: consequently the athlete is exceedingly prone to injury.” 

Another danger to be aware of is that “peripheral vasoconstriction during cold weather predisposes the extremities to cold injury, the temperature of the skin and extremities may fall to dangerous levels. Early signs include tingling and numbness in the fingers/toes, or a burning sensation of the ears/nose. If these sign are not heeded frostbite may occur.” (Katch, 521)

Even though you have more than likely just left your nice warm home to go outside, you still have to warm up your muscles prior to working out. Begin by making circles with your arms and legs, ever widening circles until the outer ranges of motion are reached. These are not ballistic moves, they are dynamic in nature. Next, do some light cardiovascular work to get the heart rate up into the working zone. 5-10 minutes depending on the temperature; the colder it is the longer this portion needs to be in order to get physically ready to workout. Exercise selection will also dictate the length and time spent in the warm up. If larger muscles are being worked, then a longer time will be required to warm them up.

Move on to the movement specific activity, i.e., if you are squatting then do a few free body weight squats. Add a bit of weight to the bar and do a few more squats. Continue in this fashion until you are thoroughly warmed up. (But don’t do the routine in the warm-up.) Now you should be ready to hit the heavy weights to begin your workout routine. 

Summary: the cold weather triad of cold temperatures, heat loss, and an inadequate warm-up are invitations to injury if left unheeded.

• Warm up thoroughly before attacking the heavy weights.
• Protect yourself when lifting in a cold weight room by wearing and layering quality-insulated clothing that breathes as you perspire. 
• Cover your head and prevent heat loss where possible.
• Pay attention to the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. 
PS: Keep this in mind as you lift in the cold. There are no mosquitoes around are there? The flies are non-existent and the fan is not making noise as it blows the summer hot air around. 
Training just does not get any better than this. Lift strong. 

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)