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Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
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The Lizard of Oz Offline
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Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
I wanted to post this general tip which I believe can save some guys from the hassle and pain of unnecessary injuries, and also give the arc of weightlifting over the course of a year a more natural and enjoyable shape.

There is a difference in the way our bodies respond to exercise in the fall and winter months when it's colder and when it stays dark for a longer time. This is the time of year when it's easier to get an injury from weightlifting, and also the time of year in which injuries are slower to heal.

Part of this is simply a function of temperature -- when it's not as warm, the muscles, joints, tendons etc are also colder, which makes them stiffer and tighter. Although you can stretch and warm up, over the course of the fall and winter your muscles and joints are probably going to be a little tighter than they are in the summer.

Another part of this has to do with natural sunlight and vitamin D production. Almost everyone has more sun exposure in the summer months when it's warm outside and there is more light every day. Again, you can supplement vitamin D, but even so your stores of D are almost certainly going to be higher in the spring and summer. Vitamin D contributes to endogenous test production, and to keeping your body supple and limber.

Finally, the fall and winter months also tend to be associated with more stress, both from work and during the holidays season (in the US). Stress makes your muscles and joints tight and tense, and more injury prone.

The upshot from all of this is not that you shouldn't work out hard in the fall and winter months -- you should still work out hard and consistently. But it's just that you should not work out AS HARD in the fall and winter as you do in the spring and summer. If in a July lift when you're loose and feeling great you can sometimes err on the side of enthusiasm, and go for a higher weight or try to bust through a sticking point, in a January lift you should always err on the side of safety, slightly lower weights and rigorous form. It's about not always going for that extra rep or extra set or higher weight, and sometimes doing a workout which is pleasant, rather than savage.

Your goal should be to get through the fall and winter while having maintained or slightly increased your strength, and without injury. Then, when the spring and summer months come around again, you gradually dial it up and use the warmth and light to take your strength to the next level.

SLEEP is the weightlifter's best friend in the fall and winter. Take advantage of the fact that it's dark for a longer part of the day to get that extra sleep, and deeper sleep, and preserve and build your strength in that way. Get some profitable hibernation genes turned on.

Not only is this a smart way to run your weightlifting year, it is also an enjoyable one. It's a natural way to vary your workouts to prevent monotony. After a fall and winter of still working hard, but placing an emphasis on safety and prudence, you will be hungry for the next strength breakthroughs when the summer months come around. You will be physically and mentally rested and ready.

All of this, of course, applies more the older you get. For very young guys (early twenties) the risk of injury is lower and the healing process is much faster than for guys who are a little older. But even young guys can benefit from dialing it down a little in the fall and winter, and up a notch in the spring and summer, and enjoying this natural cycle.

Work out hard but safely through the fall and winter; sleep like a champion; stay injury free; and get ready to tear it up when the warm months roll around again. Your body will thank you for it every time.

same old shit, sixes and sevens Shaft...
(This post was last modified: 10-04-2014 11:35 AM by The Lizard of Oz.)
10-04-2014 11:25 AM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
Phenomenal info as usual, Lizard.

It's highly relevant for me right now as I'm right now setting up a ghetto gym in my warehouse.
That place is without heating..and the Arctic Winter is lurking around the corner...
10-04-2014 11:35 AM
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Saweeep Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
The hardest thing is just getting to the gym in this weather.

I get properly SAD depressed!
10-04-2014 11:40 AM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
The most important thing I did last year during winter health wise was increase my Vitamin D intake.

1000 IU as is recommended is not nearly enough. 5000 IU is more adequate.
10-04-2014 11:49 AM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 11:40 AM)CrashBangWallop Wrote:  The hardest thing is just getting to the gym in this weather.

I get properly SAD depressed!

Bright light therapy will obliterate your SAD depression. Check out this thread:

http://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-39799.html

same old shit, sixes and sevens Shaft...
10-04-2014 11:49 AM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 11:49 AM)The Lizard of Oz Wrote:  
(10-04-2014 11:40 AM)CrashBangWallop Wrote:  The hardest thing is just getting to the gym in this weather.

I get properly SAD depressed!

Bright light therapy will obliterate your SAD depression. Check out this thread:

http://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-39799.html

I know man. I used to have a light box and it was fantastic. Need a new one!
10-04-2014 01:04 PM
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Dr. Howard Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
I am not a supreme weighlifter by any means but I really like the winter for lifting. I don't get overheated and can wear sweatpants and a hoodie to the gym and warm up in it. Then I find my body temperature is in just the right spot to lift. Last but not least in the 4th quarter of the year the gym it empty, which I also like.

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10-04-2014 01:11 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 01:11 PM)Dr. Howard Wrote:  Last but not least in the 4th quarter of the year the gym it empty, which I also like.

I've always found it's as busy in the run up to the Christmas party season as the pre holiday Spring time rush.
10-04-2014 01:13 PM
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Seanchaí Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 11:49 AM)The Lizard of Oz Wrote:  
(10-04-2014 11:40 AM)CrashBangWallop Wrote:  The hardest thing is just getting to the gym in this weather.

I get properly SAD depressed!

Bright light therapy will obliterate your SAD depression. Check out this thread:

http://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-39799.html

Good post, also reading your post on bright light therapy. I've been using a blue-light box for two years now and I can personally attest to it's effectiveness. But your recommendation for bright light light therapy has me salivating. I love anything that aids in human performance. How does your lifting protocol differ for the Winter, do you simply lift lighter weights, or completely revamp for usual program?

"You see a mouse trap, I see free cheese and a fucking challenge" Scroobius Pip
10-04-2014 01:26 PM
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Old Fritz Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
i think stretching is more important in the cold as well. Those joints get very tight.
10-04-2014 01:42 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
LOZ, these are the posts that keep coming back. Last year I did the typical bulk phase except this year I'm going into fall/winter about 20 lbs lighter with about 90% of my strength retained, so it's all relative. For the first time in 5 years I'm probably going to skip the full on bulking and try to remain leaner.

Funny, I was reading the beginning of the post and almost skipped over to the end about light therapy, and you already had it covered.

I used to use a light you'd buy for a lizard aquarium. I think it had most of the full spectrum, I'll have to dig it out again. Well timed reminder.

Another suggestion I have re. sleep is during the entire year I pin a double layered black sheet over my bedroom window and keep the door closed. Total darkness when sleeping really helps me sleep deeper year round.
10-04-2014 01:56 PM
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The Lizard of Oz Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 01:26 PM)Seanchaí Wrote:  Good post, also reading your post on bright light therapy. I've been using a blue-light box for two years now and I can personally attest to it's effectiveness. But your recommendation for bright light light therapy has me salivating. I love anything that aids in human performance. How does your lifting protocol differ for the Winter, do you simply lift lighter weights, or completely revamp for usual program?

Yes, I think you'll find that a full spectrum 10,000 Lux light box done correctly and consistently will hit you even better than a blue light box. Full spectrum boxes have the best track record and the most research behind them, and they're almost certainly better for your eyes as well.

As far as the winter routine, it depends, but the main thing is that I don't try to push it or break through new barriers. I still lift hard, but I'll err on the side of lighter weights, skip doing an extra set or trying to go for a failure rep, favor body weight exercises like naked pullups over heavy strapped ones. Things like that.

I actually agree with Dr. Howard that the winter can be a great time to enjoy your lifts. You can take it a little easier, kick back and soak in the textures of the gym on a cold day (if you're lifting in a gym you like). It's more about relaxing into the lift than about pushing it. It can be a very good way to lift and it deepens your relation to the gym and to the iron.

The goal is to preserve your strength and avoid injury and then when the warm months come you ramp it up and try to break through to a new level. The summer is when you come to the gym to kick ass and take no prisoners (of course while still keeping great form at all times).

same old shit, sixes and sevens Shaft...
10-04-2014 03:01 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
I actually find the opposite happening for me. The winter months are the most stress free times for me because all the time off due to holidays and with the limited source of light (at least for those closer to the poles) it makes spending more time in the gym much easier as opposed to the days that are bathed in sunlight during the summer.

For myself, I want to be in better shape than I was at the end of the last summer. That way I can maintain my strength through the spring and summer while doing other activities that I was limited to during the winter.

A man is only as faithful as his options-Chris Rock
10-04-2014 03:58 PM
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Hades Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
I'm going to respectfully disagree. I tend to lift longer and heavier in the winter since I usually sleep more (it's dark out from 5:00 PM on) and have fuck all to do. It's also a time to not really care about being all that lean.

You guys give too much credence to science for explaining barely observable phenomena and excusing yourselves from effort. Some of the strongest men to have ever lived came from Iceland where it's basically winter all year.

I'm sure if a guy hops in the sauna every now and then and eats enough vitamin D then winter would have no effect. The only reason to ever cut down on perceived exertion in the winter is to avoid frostbitten lungs, and not enough people lift weights in icy outdoor junkyards to make this a useful PSA.
(This post was last modified: 10-04-2014 04:22 PM by Hades.)
10-04-2014 04:18 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
I lift a lot harder in the winter because I tend to sleep/eat more and there's not jack shit else going on.

Also, you can get away with being a bit fatter in the winter and then leaning out the spring.

Spring and summer is the time when you go outside and play around with all that new muscle.

I don't want to be an asshole here, but if you're worried about injuries, you should do something else with your time. It's like being a player who's worried about STD's. It's going to happen, chalk it up to the game. How are you supposed to learn with taking risks?

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(This post was last modified: 10-04-2014 04:29 PM by Hannibal.)
10-04-2014 04:18 PM
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The Lizard of Oz Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
Hades, it's by no means winter all year in Iceland. They have a summer and it's much warmer in the summer than in the winter. And of course it's light almost around the clock there in the summer (just as it's dark almost around the clock in the winter).

In any case. My personal experience and that of people I know is that weightlifting injuries are more frequent when it's cold and are also slower to heal. If you can lift very hard through the cold months without getting injured, then of course there is no reason not to. And obviously it's a matter of luck to some extent, and varies a great deal depending on the guy, how old he is, body type etc. So I'm not claiming there is some sort of hard and fast rule. If you can lift very hard and safely at any time, go for it.

But I've definitely observed the effect I'm talking about, and it's not pretty when it happens. For myself, I feel that my muscles and joints are tighter when it's cold, and it's easier to get tweaks, which then also take longer to heal. And a guy I know who is exceptionally strong, and packs a lot of muscle on a light frame, had a truly severe cervical disc injury the January before last and it was very clear to me that the cold weather contributed to him getting the injury, and particularly made the healing process slower and even more brutal than it otherwise would have been. And when I say brutal, I'm not exaggerating -- it's a terrible injury and some people never really recover from it (he did, but it took him pretty much a full year). That is the sort of thing that you never want to happen, and if a guy eases up a little in the cold months (while still working hard) I don't see it as anything but being smart.

(10-04-2014 04:18 PM)Hannibal Wrote:  I don't want to be an asshole here, but if you're worried about injuries, you should do something else with your time. It's like being a player who's worried about STD's. It's going to happen, chalk it up to the game. How are you supposed to learn with taking risks?

Any guy who lifts has to consider the possibility of injury, especially when you get older. Injury, when it happens, is what keeps you out of the game and slows your progress.

It doesn't mean that you don't lift hard, and very hard at times. It just means that you have to be intuitive, and know when to push and when to hang back. Exactly the same as being a player, for that matter.

same old shit, sixes and sevens Shaft...
10-04-2014 04:46 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
I meant least stressful times are in the winter......

I can def see an older guy wanting to take it easier when it's colder out. The joints tend to stiffen up, blood becomes thicker, heart rate goes up, etc so in terms of being older vs younger the winter is not kind to heavy lifting during the cold season.

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10-04-2014 07:16 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
Could these problems not be prevented just by warming up longer and focusing on more mobility work during the winter?
10-04-2014 08:10 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
Adequate heating in the gym + more warmups + neoprene supportive wears should take care of the problems.

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10-04-2014 08:30 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 08:10 PM)LeBeau Wrote:  Could these problems not be prevented just by warming up longer and focusing on more mobility work during the winter?

Yes, to some extent, and it's definitely a good idea to focus more on mobility work during the cold months and to make sure you take time to warm up. But I don't believe it can completely replicate the conditions of your body being bathed in warmth and sunlight over the course of a whole season, just as (for example) immersing yourself in a mineral filled saline bath, while good for your skin, has never replicated the nearly miraculous benefits of simply swimming in the ocean. It is very tough to mimic the full spectrum of effects of certain natural conditions that we have evolved to experience, especially conditions that obtain over long periods of time.

***********

Something that I maybe should have stressed more in the OP is that when I suggest to "not work out as hard", it's all relative. I take it for granted that if you go to the gym, you go to lift hard, otherwise what's the point? But of course 95% of the dudes you see there don't act that way; most of them go there -- I'm not sure why? Because they vaguely think they should? -- and they basically go through the motions for the most part. That is just a waste of time, and is not something I would dream of suggesting to anyone.

However, given that you always lift hard, there is, on the one hand, a way of lifting hard but staying within your capabilities, and on the other, a way of lifting hard to break through limits and sticking points. What I am suggesting is that the cold months are a better time for the former -- basically, consolidation and reinforcement -- and the summer is a better time for the latter. Not for everyone and under all circumstances, but for most guys and especially when they're not very young.

same old shit, sixes and sevens Shaft...
10-04-2014 09:00 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 04:18 PM)Hades Wrote:  I'm going to respectfully disagree. I tend to lift longer and heavier in the winter since I usually sleep more (it's dark out from 5:00 PM on) and have fuck all to do. It's also a time to not really care about being all that lean.

You guys give too much credence to science for explaining barely observable phenomena and excusing yourselves from effort. Some of the strongest men to have ever lived came from Iceland where it's basically winter all year.

I'm sure if a guy hops in the sauna every now and then and eats enough vitamin D then winter would have no effect. The only reason to ever cut down on perceived exertion in the winter is to avoid frostbitten lungs, and not enough people lift weights in icy outdoor junkyards to make this a useful PSA.
I have to agree with this post. The average person barely spends any time outside regardless of season.

Many have reported improved healing with Ice Bath/Cold Showers, it may be possible Winter weather is actually beneficial (Test/GH boost?)?

Also, there is still sunlight during the Winter Time usually 2-3 hours out of the day. I usually go on Weather.com or Accuweather.com and look at the hourly report and schedule my day accordingly. If you take your shirt off, you're getting possibly 500% more Sunlight than people who are just getting it on their hands/face. I get more in the Winter time than most get in the Summer Time.
10-04-2014 10:38 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
Solid info Lizard.

Those rare nights when L.A. gets down to 58 degrees can really mess a guy up.

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10-04-2014 11:32 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
(10-04-2014 04:46 PM)The Lizard of Oz Wrote:  Hades, it's by no means winter all year in Iceland. They have a summer and it's much warmer in the summer than in the winter. And of course it's light almost around the clock there in the summer (just as it's dark almost around the clock in the winter).

Where do you live that winter is a serious consideration? If it's Australia I thought that winter is just about over and now it's summer time.
10-05-2014 03:45 PM
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The Lizard of Oz Offline
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
Why Australia man? I live in the US.

same old shit, sixes and sevens Shaft...
10-05-2014 03:53 PM
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RE: Don't Work Out As Hard In The Cold Months
Whats your data to back up these assertions?

Fuckthat
(This post was last modified: 10-05-2014 04:18 PM by Vaun.)
10-05-2014 04:17 PM
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