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Tis the Season: Workout Tips for Colder Weather

By Duke Greenhill

Once again, the tank tops of spring have dwindled to the Speedos of summer, and now fall's form-fitting V-necks are giving way to long coats. For many, this is the beginning of the end of outdoor training —not only because of the weather, but also because of the ease with which diminishing fitness and growing waistlines can be hidden beneath our winter layers. But you don't have to give up on outdoor training, and you don't have to let your tight abs turn into kegs. After all, no one likes being stuck in his living room, or a gym, or an office for a whole season; and it's important to keep variation in your workout plan, too. So don't be afraid of the coming winter. With a little creativity, you can safely and effectively continue to enjoy your outdoor exercise—and keep your physique chiseled for next spring—despite winter's bite. Look no further—we've got ideas.

But, before you head out there and dive into a snow-drift, take one little piece of safety advice. When you come back inside, don't strip off your snowy clothes. Give your body time to recondition itself to the changing temperature. Unless your clothes are sopping wet (in which case, get them off), you run the risk of post-exercise hypothermia if you adjust to higher temps too quickly. So, fix a cup of cocoa, and hang out for a few minutes before taking off your layers.

Got your coat? Gloves? Hat? Good! Let's go get chilly:

Grab a Tree
So the leaves are gone and the trees are bare. This adds up to a benefit for you. Find a good limb and perform chin-ups. Wide-grip pull-ups, with your hands wider than your shoulders, will draw the focus to your outer lats. Close-grip pull-ups, with hands roughly six inches apart, will hit the inner lats. Turn your hands around (palms toward you) and use an intermediate grip to tie the lower trapezius into your middle-back and lats for that all-too-sexy "diamond" cut.

Shovel Snow
Various metabolic studies have shown that shoveling snow for an hour can burn anywhere between 300 and 500 calories. That's a cardio workout in and of itself. But, depending on the amount and type of snow—folks in Michigan talk about their wet snow, whereas folks in Maine know about hard snow—shoveling snow can also be a hell of a good upper-body workout. For cardio, make sure you have enough snow to shovel to last you at least 45-minutes (help your neighbors out if you need more). If you live where the snow is hard and heavy, shovel for variety in your upper body workout, being sure to switch your hand position often (most of us shovel with our writing hand further up the shovel's handle; this unevenly stresses your arms and chest, so be sure to change things up). Be sure to give your arms and back a full day's rest before training them again in the gym.

Ski the 'Hood
For lower-body work, cross-country skiing is perhaps the most efficient outdoor winter exercise available. And, you don't even need to live in the country to do it. I live in Manhattan, and early some mornings when the snow is undisturbed and there aren't too many people traipsing the streets of Chelsea to laugh at me, I strap on my cross-country skis and make a few laps around the block. Cross-country skiing, burns more calories per hour than any other sport (up to 1,200 an hour) and is an ideal cross-training winter replacement for avid runners or bikers. Check out our how-to article on the sport.

Tackle Some Friends
We all know wrestling has a certain special place in gay athletic lore, but football is really where it's at. Football is not a fall-only sport, and it's an excellent way not only to improve your physical condition, but also to give you an excuse to wrap your arms around a hot guy and bring him down. Since you are playing in the snow, you'll get a hell of a leg workout—like running on sand. Plus, fresh snow will provide cushioning amid the tackles, and a nice, soft surface for any post-game recreation.

About Duke Greenhill: Duke Greenhill is a freelance writer, certified personal trainer, and model living in Manhattan. He can be found online at