Advice on Doing Calisthenics in the Winter

How do I go about training outside when the weather is cold? You wear adequate clothing, adopt a special attitude and exercise with care!

The main challenge with doing calisthenics in the winter is keeping oneself warm by wearing decent outdoor clothes. These could be proper winter sportswear, a pullover, or a few light tops over each other. It’s very important to wear a hat, gloves and warm shoes. I like wearing long johns and a mouth piece too. Having a hot drink before going out will also help you acclimatize to the cold.

You don’t have to travel anywhere far unless you own a car. The idea is to stay close to a source of warmth (usually your home or car) in the event it gets too cold for you to stay and train outside. I like to take my parallettes to the local park or walk to the nearest kids playground to do pull ups on the frames. I would avoid cycling to a distant place in case I get caught in the rain on my way back. You must immediately go home if you start shivering while exercising in the cold. Luckily, the more you exercise outdoors, the better your body will become at producing heat from within.

Feeling cold when training outdoors will weaken your immune system, which fights off bacteria and viruses present in the air, and put you at risk of getting ill. There is also a greater chance of injuring yourself because the cold reduces ligament flexibility and makes the muscles work harder than usual. Therefore, it’s important to warm up properly and be extra careful when performing a difficult exercise.

If I’m training on pull-up bars or parallettes, I would keep my hat, gloves and jacket on throughout the warm up and the first few sets of chin ups or handstands, then take off my hat, jacket and possibly jumper as I get warmer and before I start sweating. I don’t like my hands getting cold so I may leave my gloves on for the entire session or put them on only while resting between sets.

If you are planning an outdoor workout for your next day off or the weekend, I strongly recommend checking the hourly weather forecast for that day in advance. Look for a two-hour period when the temperature will be highest or when there might be intermittent sunshine. This will ensure you get to train in the best weather conditions for the day. Don’t just stare through the window cursing the rain. Download the BBC Weather app if you live in the UK and plan your day.  Sounds like nonsense? You will be surprised when you realize that even a small temperature change of 2°C could make or break your outdoor workout.

Doing calisthenics when it’s cold outside requires a special attitude. Nobody likes to feel cold and put themselves at risk of injury or getting ill. Nobody would particularly enjoy exercising at 3°C in winter clothes that restrict mobility and impede performance. Can’t we all just wait until the summer or join a gym? We certainly can but no one who’s truly passionate about calisthenics would let bad weather prevent them from doing what they love. Instead of thinking of it as a dreaded chore, try to change your attitude and perceive winter calisthenics as a body-mind-spirit challenge. Training in the cold will not only work out the muscles, it will test your self-discipline and improve your body’s ability to generate heat and resist cold, if done properly.


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