Cardio Options During Winter

Cardio Options During Winter

Its easy to get cardio during the summer but what can you do in the winter when your outdoor options are limited?  Most people gain 10-15 pounds of fat during the winter because they eat the same amount of food as they do during the summer but dont get nearly as much exercise.  Couple to this the bad food temptations of the holiday season and winter is a bodyfat mine field.

What kind of winter cardio you can do depends on how good of shape you are in and whether their is snow/ice outside.

Cardio At Home During The Winter

Since my whole website is about home workouts, lets start what kind of cardio you can do indoors regardless of how hot or cold it is outside.

  1. jumprope

    Jumping rope!  If you have never jumped rope before, give it a try before you dismiss it as boring or “too easy”.  Its an amazing workout and there are no end to the tricks and variations you can do.  Not only is jumping rope good exercise but it helps you work on coordination and balance as well – not many forms of cardio are as good at improving these as jumping rope.  There is a reason that boxers and MMA people jump rope.  In addition, a jump rope is about as cheap as they get.   You do need to be in good shape to jump rope though, if you are way overweight its not the best option.

  2. Modified burpee (mid position)

    Burpees.  Even cheaper than jumping rope.  Not only are burpees amazing cardio but they couple cardio with plyometrics and flexibility all in one.  You can do burpee intervals for an amazing workout.  For starters try 1:1 (30s burpees, 30 seconds rest) for 20 minutes and then move up to 2:1 if you can (60 seconds burpees, 30 seconds rest).  Trouble is you need to be in really good shape to do these and they are not recommended for beginners or those significantly overweight.

  3. Stationary Bike For Indoor Cardio During Winter

    Indoor biking.  If you are not in good enough shape to jump rope or do burpees, riding the stationary bike is a good option.  Trouble is that most late night infomercial stationary bikes do not provide enough resistance to elevate your heart rate sufficiently.  Commercial gym quality stationary bikes cost $800-$2000 and weigh 50-100 pounds.  If the bike you are looking to buy is lighter than that or less expensive than that then be wary. Check out the ratings of top exercise bikes from Consumer Reports Magazine. Trouble with all these bikes is that they are expensive, heavy, and take up a lot of room.  I dont have room for a stationary bike in our tiny house.  A much better option for those who have a bike they use in the summer is a bike trainer.  A bike trainer allows you to bicycle indoors.  Again, there are a lot of useless ones out there that dont provide enough resistance to elevate your heart rate. Most of these bike trainers provide resistance by one of two methods: magnetic or hydraulic.  The magnetic ones allow you to “adjust the resistance”, trouble is, you can change the resistance from very easy to easy.  For most people in good shape, these magnetic resistive bike trainers do not offer sufficient rolling resistance to elevate your heart rate adequately.  The hydraulic trainers, also called fluid trainers, on the other hand do not have adjustable rolling resistance … but, they virtually mimic real life riding.  The slower you go, the easier it is.  The faster you go, the harder it is.  Regardless of how powerful you are or how out of shape, there is a speed that will work for you.  Usually they say which type they are but if not, look at a picture.  If the unit has cooling fins on it, then its the hydraulic type that I recommend.  If it doesnt have fins or it offers “adjustable resistance” then its the magnetic type that is not recommended.  The unit I have that I own and love is the Kurt Kinetic Trainer.  It fits all three of the bikes I own: my road bike, mountain bike, and 29er.  Its a well designed, sturdy, and high quality unit.

Winter Cardio Outside The Home (ice and snow)

If you have the option of leaving the home to get cardio during the winter, you have many options but it depends on your physical conditioning.

  1. Walking at the mall
  2. Doing stairs in a high-rise building
  3. Snowshoeing
  4. Swimming
  5. Cross Country Sking


Winter Cardio Outside The Home (no ice or snow)

  1. Walking
  2. Jogging
  3. Biking

Useless Indoor Cardio Gadgets

I know that there are going to be a bunch of questions posted asking about various pieces of equipment like the following:

  1. “Is a mini-trampoline good cardio”
  2. “Is the Ab Circle Pro good cardio”
  3. “Is the swing trainer good cardio”
    1. Let me give you some general guidelines so you can answer your own question. First, its all about elevating your heart rate. If you already own the piece of equipment in question then try this. Use it for 5-10 minutes then measure your heart rate. If you can get your heart rate above 85% of your maximum, then its a good piece of cardio equipment. Its that simple!

      Its pretty easy to tell by looking at a piece of cardio equipment if it will let you elevate your heart rate sufficiently. Here is what to look for:

      1. What muscles are being worked? To elevate your heart rate sufficiently you need to work the BIG muscles in the body, like the legs, or the entire body as you do with burpees. If the “cardio equipment” is exercising your core, arms, or some other minor muscle group then there is no way it will ever allow you to elevate your heart rate sufficiently. Bikes and eleptical machines work because they work the huge legs. Rowing machines work because they work the entire body. The Ab Circle Pro does NOT work because all it does is work the tiny core muscles.
      2. Ab Circle Pro

        Follow the energy! To get cardiovascular exercise your body has to do work. The energy you are expending can leave in one of a few possible ways, as heat, as electricity, or by moving something (like air). Some rowing machines and stationary bicycles use a big fan which is a reliable and simple way to dissipate the energy. Very few pieces of cardio equipment generate electricity so we will skip that one. By far the most common way to provide the necessary resistance for the body is thru friction which then dissipates the energy in the form of heat – WHAT is getting hot?

        Cooling Fins Indicate Quality Cardio Equipment

        If there is nothing getting hot then it cant possibly be a good piece of cardio equipment. Many of the late night infomercial devices sold for losing weight are completely useless because they just let your body wiggle, swing, rock, or twist without actually doing anything. Look at the Ab Circle Pro here. What is dissipating the heat? Nothing, therefore it cant possibly be useful as cardio. The expensive stationary equipment at the gym is all sleek and plastic but beneath those covers is a heatsink with fins that dissipates the energy. Look at the photo of the bike trainer above, see the cooling fins? When I use that it gets *very* hot.

40 thoughts on “Cardio Options During Winter”

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  3. Scooby is there a way I can send you private message ? I`ve got just a few questions about my situation, if there is I`d appreciate if you`d answer me on this comment. I`ve been searching for option to send you a message but or I`m stupid or it`s really hidden or there is no option.I won`t bother you just need to ask you something.

  4. Ice skating across frozen lakes and rivers, and mountain climbing but you need to have the right gear for it. Last week it was -30F here in Alaska, but with the right gear it’s still fun to get out. It’s the wind that gets u more than anything. I think the most strenuous cardio I’ve had in a long time was trying to skate home across a frozen lake head on into 60mph sustained winds!

  5. What is best lossing weight? Jumping rope or Indoor Biking?

    I confuse to my weight? I lose my weight in 18lbl for Indoor Biking in gym?

    But now I do Jumping Rope and my weight not lossing?

    Is this posible in foods i’ve eaten?

    Foods I’ve Eat
    vegetables, rice, fish, breast chiken, eggs and food that are low calories.
    vegetables, rice, fish, breast chiken, and pork & beans
    cornbeef this is the food I always eat before
    Chunkee Corned Beef: Nutrition Facts
    Cal. – 80
    Fat cal. 30
    Total Fat. – 3.5g
    Protein – 10g
    Is this good?

  6. Yesterday I was reminded how much heat can be generated by the human body and why those cooling fins are so important. Because of my weight, most of my real bikes have disc brakes. The first road bike I ever bought, an Airborne Zeppelin, has rim brakes though. Its a light, race bike. Yesterday I rode it to the top of a 2000′ mountain and then went down. Because its so curvy, I had to brake heavily. All that cardio energy I expended getting myself to the top of the mountain needed to be dissipated as heat. A disc brake rotor is a safe place for something to get red hot, a wheel holding a rubber tire is not. Halfway down the hill, just as I was thinking that I better stop and let the wheel cool off – KA-BLAM! Blow out. The extreme heat generated by the rim brake, heated the air in the tire tube so the pressure increased till it popped. There was a 2″ long rip in the tube that took five overlapping patches to fix. Remember, good cardio equipment needs a way to safely dissipate energy!

  7. I use shadow boxing/ kickboxing as my cardio. i usually follow a simple combo like jab, cross, punch and then throw a kick. After 3 minutes I do bodyweight squats, jumping lunges, burpess or bodyweight deadlifts as fast as i can. works fantastic and doesn’t wake others up in my house

  8. I obtain better cardio results with knee jumps than actual jump rope. I’ve pretty much given up on jump rope. There is no ceiling in my house or garage that gives enough clearance, the garage came closest so I tried to make that work. After 6 months of trying, I couldn’t master the coordination to maintain a consistent jump rhythm. I tracked heart rate with a chest strapped monitor. Constantly tripping on the jump rope was not working.

    For solid indoor cardio I use a combination of heavy punching bag and knee jumps. Combo punch, left right left… 5 knee jumps, combo punches, 5 knee jumps. Hits target heart rates in seconds and maintains it for the entire 20mins.

  9. On winter days when I can’t seem to go jogging, there is a backup routine I made up that seems to work well. Try jogging in place for about 7 to 10 minutes. Next, do 100 2-count jumping jacks followed by 50 4-count jumping jacks. Then, jump rope for 3 to 5 minutes. Afterwards, do 3 sets of 10 burpees. Finally jog in place for another 5 minutes. Just as Tony Junior posted, you can do all of this while watching your favorite TV program.

  10. This might not be accessible to all, but squash is a great cardio exercise. Not only does it consume a lot of calories, it’s also a lot of fun and much less boring than a lot of other cardio exercises. Even when I don’t have a partner, I smash the ball against the wall by myself and believe me, it always makes me sweat. If you are a college student, there usually are courts on campus, give it a try and you will see what I mean.

  11. There may be truth in what you say about cheap exercise bikes, but I have a very old Reebok RB2000 that I’m sure was a cheap model. It provides enough resistance to keep my heart rate between 140-170 for 30 minutes + without bursting into flames, and has two harder settings if I ever need them. And importantly, I’ve found a way to use the programs that keeps me focused and pushes me hard. In my early use I had it on fixed settings that left me bored after 10 minutes so I would stop. Now I use a program that ramps up and down, and I give 100% effort for 30s of every 2 minutes to get some HIIT benefit.

    1. lol,,
      cardio will not burn muscle,,
      before run,,
      i think u have to eat a small meal balance tu supply protein in ur muscle,,
      then when u running,,
      ur blood will transport all the nutrient in ur body,,
      cardio is good and NOT BURN MUSCLE,,
      ales klar??

  12. Also, you forgot to mention for jump roping. You do not need a rope. You can simple pretend you have one and move your arms and jump as if you had one. Jogging in place, walking in place. walk/jog up and down your stairs in the house. Also, dancing. People claim they do not have time, they should jog in place during a tv show they are watching are commercials.

    1. “Jumping rope” without the rope is not as good in my opinion. 1) its boring and 2) you can cheat. When a real rope hits your feet it forces you to either jump higher or improve your coordination. Fake rope jumping doesnt give that feedback.

      1. Hey Scooby,
        I was wondering, do kids really need 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight? I read on various sites that it was about .36 grams per pound. I don’t want to overdo how much protein I take in.

    1. I am using KB-Workouts as an addition to cardio and weight workouts. The workouts are very efficient (3-5 Minutes of Swings with a kettlebell might bring your heart rate up to the limits, I noticed a great gain of cardio and strength after some weeks in kettlebell-training). But kettlebell exercises are ballistic exercises. If you use a kettlbell you have to watch your form very, very, very pedantic or you might injure yourself (especially back and shoulders). To get in kettlebells i would suggest an RKC-seminar or a dvd or book of Pavel (google for “Pavel Kettlebell” might bring you some videos from his DVD to give you an impression).

      1. I am doing intermediate workout at the moment and like Scooby, I hate
        winter a lot, so I wanted to replace running/jogging to kettlebells as
        an option for that 20 min cardio. I have found now some good sites with good info and couple books are on the way to my mailbox. Thanks for the answers – hope we will get over this winter quickly.

        Cheers from the Arctic Circle!

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