Warming Up for Your Winter Workout

winter runner

It’s getting cold out there!  So, if you work out in the great outdoors, it’s time to give some serious thought to adapting your warm up routine.

With colder temperatures, your body needs to work harder to stay warm, which is great for your fitness.  But your body also needs more time to adjust to the variance between temperatures inside and outside, as there’s a huge disparity in cold weather.

Let’s explore warming up for your winter workout thoroughly to better protect yourself against injuries.


It doesn’t matter how fit you are, winter means tight muscles and reduced joint mobility.  It’s this “frozen” effect that you’re going to be working against, as you step up your warmup to meet the challenge of the season.

When your muscles are tight, they’re not going to respond as you need them to, so take a little extra time to untighten them.

They’re not as ready as they are during the warmer months to perform, so give yourself extra time for a warm up as the temperature drops.

Heat Is the Key

Muscles which have been given enough time to warm up perform better.  And your range of motion and strength is greatly improved when muscles are prepared.  So, heat is the key to a winter workout warm up.

A thorough, mindful warm up delivers additional heat to all sectors of your body.  This means there’s less risk of injury, as your whole body is ready.  There’s no such thing as a warm up that doesn’t benefit all your moving parts for that reason.

What you need now is a lower-intensity warmup of about 15 minutes. This gives you body time to turn up the heat and to prepare itself for an outdoor winter workout.

Bodyweight and Dynamic Stretches

Bodyweight exercises are ideal to support your winter workout warmup.  These exercises are primarily concerned with mobility and strength and can be tailored to your needs by adjusting their intensity, duration and position in your line up of warm up practices.

Here’s my formula (exercises should be performed in this order):

  1. Bridges: Lying on your back with your knees bent, with arms at your sides, lift your hips up to the level of your knees.  Hold for 10, remembering to engage your abs and glutes. Repeat 3 times.
  2. Ab roll: Lying on your back, inhale as you roll your upper body into to sitting position.  Then, roll back down, exhaling.  Repeat 3 times.
  3. The cat: On your hands and knees, slowly arch your back up as your head drops between your shoulders.  Now, reverse the stretch, pulling your head slowly up at the same time as you arch your back down. Repeat 3 times.

Add these exercises to your winter workout warmup and tailor them to you, adding other techniques and moves as you go.

Winter warmups matter.  They help you prevent injury and they give your body a chance to defend itself against the cold by heating up and loosening up.

Injured?  Contact the Back & Body team.

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