Seasonal training: how to adapt your workouts for the summer and winter

Seasonal training: how to adapt your workouts for summer and winter

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How much should we adapt our workouts to suit the weather? Strong Women explores whether we train better in the heat or the cold, and how to maximise our performance no matter the temperature.

If you’ve continued training throughout this week’s heatwave, you’ve no doubt adapted your workouts (and hopefully your recovery) to deal with the warmer weather.

But should you be thinking about making some more permanent changes to your fitness routine depending on the season? Is working out in the summer better than in the winter? We put it to the experts.

How does training in hot weather differ to cold weather?

“In high humidity, our bodies can’t use sweat to cool ourselves down, so we can put ourselves at risk of tiring quicker and possible heat exhaustion if we don’t stay hydrated,” MyProtein personal trainer Lauren Evans tells Stylist.

“However, we tend to consume more in the winter, which means we can feel a bit stronger and able to push ourselves further.”

She stresses that “more” can be very subjective, and all comes down to your personal goals. “I would suggest working with an expert to clarify these seasonal training goals and setting out a plan to achieve them,” she says.

“Even though you may be sweating a lot more in the summer, because of increases in humidity the sweat sits on the skin rather than evaporating and cooling you down,” adds Alex Williams, a nutritionist at The Collective Wellness

How can you we adapt your training to suit the season?

Evans advises exercising with caution throughout summer, such as seeking shade or exercising in an air-conditioned gym.

“You may need to adapt your training depending on the season. The heat and humidity in summer may mean we need to adapt the times we train to avoid searing temperatures throughout the day and go for an early morning or a late evening session instead.”

“During the summer months I would advise against exercising outdoors during the hottest part of the day to avoid risk of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Luckily, the longer days mean we can safely exercise earlier in the mornings and later into the evenings, but it’s about finding what time works for you,” she continues.

And as for training in a chillier climate? The key is being able to adapt your workouts to suit the weather. “If you’re a runner, conditions such as rain and snow may make it difficult to go for a long run, so a suitable alternative may be to work on strength and conditioning for running in the gym instead,” Evans explains. 

“Acclimatising to seasonal changes can take some time so cut yourself some slack if you aren’t performing as well as you were in the cooler months,” adds Williams. “It is estimated to take 10-14 days for your body to make physiological adjustments to acclimatise to the hot weather. Listen to your body and focus on rehydration, rest and renourishment.”

Do you need to make any nutritional changes?

“When temperatures rise, some people’s appetites may reduce, so it is important to make sure you are eating enough in the summer,” says Williams. She advises choosing energy-dense, hydrating foods like smoothies or protein shakes if you aren’t feeling very hungry after training.

They also stress the importance of rehydrating. “You may want to consider electrolyte drinks to help you rehydrate faster and more efficiently,” she suggests. 

This applies to winter workouts too, as studies have shown that the cold diminishes feelings of thirst by up to 40%.

Is it better to work out in the heat or the cold?

Evans believes that “each season has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to working out.”

“Winter comes with seasonal colds and flu so it’s important that we exercise to strengthen our immune system and maintain good health. Winter also means reduced exposure to sunlight, which can lower our production of serotonin which helps regulate our mood. So exercising throughout is a good way to help keep those winter blues at bay.”

“Ultimately, we should stay active throughout the year to stay fit and healthy, and finding what exercise you love will definitely help you stick to a routine.”

That sounds like solid advice – all year round. 

For more workout tips, training advice and nutritious recipes, follow Strong Women on Instagram.

Images: Getty/Instagram

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