When cold weather hits, many take it as a sign to relax their routine and take their workout indoors. In the worst cases, some even skip their workout all together! Cold weather really shouldn’t stop you from getting your exercise outdoors, you just need to make sure to take extra care and dress for the occasion. In a time of near worldwide lockdowns, we need to make use of what precious time we are able to safely spend outside
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Winter is really a great time to take advantage of the brisk, chilly air to really get into your workouts. Learning how to dress for it will keep you warm and comfortable while keeping you on track to maintain your fitness goals.
Now there are tons and tons of different types of fitness clothing out in the market, from trendy workout fashion pieces to niche, sports specific-equipment. Ultimately it is up to you to decide what type best suits your personal style, but we’re here to help when it comes to picking the appropriate winter wear when it comes to working out and keeping warm.
Read on and we’ll tell you which winter workout clothes you need this season.
The Quintessential Guide To Winter Workout Gear
Here are some tips on how to get the right activewear to crush your winter workouts.
Layers, Layers, Layers
The simplest and most obvious way of keeping warm and dry when it is cold outside is to layer up! It’s simple enough to throw a couple layers on and call it a day. However, you shouldn't just throw on any old pair of pants with a t-shirt and hoodie and expect it to protect against the elements. It pays to be strategic about it. By wearing clothes in a specific combination of layers, it’ll be much easier to regulate your body temperature, keep moisture out of the inner layers, and stay warm and dry even while working up a sweat.
The layers that you wear for any given day should be matched to the weather, what activity you are doing, and your personal preference. In general, there are 3 different levels of layers that you should consider and each one has a function they should be geared toward.
The Base Layer:
This is the first layer you put on and will be in contact with your skin. The base layer should be something that is fitted and made with a wicking material that wicks away sweat and moisture from your body. This allows your skin to breathe well and dry faster, leaving you better off in the cold. Typically, this layer is where you’ll find compression tights or a slim-fit shirt. Look for a base layer made from materials such as polyester, thinsulate, polypropylene and wool as they are good choices for providing the benefits we just mentioned. Born Tough has a fantastic compression layer product line designed exactly for this type of use. They’re made of a polyester and spandex fabric blend and come in long sleeve, short sleeve, and pants variants. Give them a look if you’re in need of a good base layer.
One thing you should absolutely avoid as a base layer for the winter is something made of cotton. This is because cotton traps in moisture, meaning it will stay wet when it gets wet and will draw heat away from your body. That is the exact opposite of what you want from a base layer.
Obviously winter weather will vary depending on where you live. So depending on your location’s climate look for shirts that are lightweight, medium-wight, and heavyweight. Lighter shirts will provide more moisture wicking while heavyweights provide more insulation and warmth. It really depends on the temperature outside and the level of physical activity you intend to perform, but at its core it should still provide some form of wicking and insulation.
The Mid Layer
The focus of this layer should be to provide insulation to the core of your body. Aim for a mid layer a bit looser than your base layer, but still fit enough as it should make contact with your base layer. Good mid layers also carry moisture away from your base all the way to the outer layer. Common material to look for for mid layers include polyester, wool, synthetic blends, and down. Look for features such as armpit vents, long front zippers, and adjustable cuffs and collars.
The Outer Layer
The final layer we have to discuss is the outer layer. The outer layer’s primary function should be to block wind, repel water, and hold in heat. You’re looking for products that are wind-resistant and waterproof if you can. Look for materials that excel at blocking chilly wind, while allowing your body to breathe. These types of products are typically made with polyester blends and come with extra features such as long zippers, adjustable ankle cuffs (for pants), and other ventilation options. Avoid products with rubber materials as they will allow moisture to build up.
The key here is to pick a layer that you can easily take off or put on that can protect you from the elements. Born Tough has some nice polyester blend hoodies and joggers that can help in your winter training as well.
A tip and good rule of thumb is to dress for weather about 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. This is because once you get moving, your body will heat up fast and cool down quickly when you stop. Dressing for weather a little bit warmer than it is outside will help regulate your body temperature during your workout and keep you from getting too hot.
Now that you have a layering plan for the cold, you can adjust your temperature control by simply adding or removing layers as needed for your environment. Another good tip is to make sure to follow the proper care instructions on your winter workout items. Synthetic and special fabrics typically need a little bit of extra care being cleaned in order to properly maintain their wicking, insulation, or water repelling properties.
Play it Safe
The winter months are when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. As the daylight turns to night earlier in the day, it is important to make sure you’re seen if you lose track of time. Early morning and evenings are popular workout times for those with day jobs, and it is during these times when it gets especially darker in winter. This is why having a game plan is essential.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to sacrifice your style by wearing full body, bright neon apparel. This can simply be accomplished by wearing workout clothing that come with reflective properties. It shouldn't be too hard to find as workout clothes that are properly geared for the cold already come standard with some sort of reflective material on it. These usually come in small, reflective strips that are very subtle in the light. However, when it gets dark, there’s no mistaking someone is training outside. People, especially drivers, will be able to see you and that is exactly what you want.
Don’t Forget Accessories
The bulk of your body heat is primarily stored in the core. While this is good for keeping you warm and regulating your body heat as a whole, it leaves your extremities in a much more vulnerable state in the cold. This is why your hands and feet get numb during winter, your body’s priority is to heat the core where all your important organs are stored. To compensate for this, aid your body in regulating heat by investing in accessories to keep the vulnerable areas warm. It’s smart to wear running mittens, headbands, or even hats as a significant amount of body heat is lost through our extremities.
When choosing gloves, try to pick a pair that is more suited to what exercise you are doing. For example, traditional wool mittens with no separation of the fingers would not be ideal for gripping onto weights or other equipment during a workout. In this situation, gloves with a tacky surface on the fingertips or palms would help greatly. There are even some gloves that come with conductive materials so you can still use your smartphone or smartwatch without taking them off.
Socks can really make a difference when the cold weather kicks in. A large amount of body heat can be lost through your feet very quickly, especially when you’re exercising. A good pair of thermal socks can help keep the heat in and wick away sweat and moisture. Typical thermal socks can be a little bulky so you may need to size up your shoe. Athletic winter geared socks also are available, which utilize thinner layers and strategic padding to help against blisters.
Stay Committed, Stay Disciplined
To stay committed to your routine during the long, cold days of winter really demonstrate your resilience and perseverance as an athlete. A lot of growth happens in these uncomfortable environments and it is good alone time to develop your mental fortitude. Winter can easily be an excuse to tone down your workouts, but if you can stay dedicated to your plan, it can be a great time to make major gains while others’ progress can regress.