Here in Colorado, we are so lucky to have seasons which bring change. Change is welcome when it comes to temperature, color, and light. It can also be refreshing when it comes to our workouts and how we move.
Just as a nutritionist would suggest a variety of foods in your diet, I would suggest diversifying your movements, whether that is your everyday activities, chores, or your workout routine. Varying your plan may keep you more interested and motivated to exercise, and can help prevent overuse injuries, while maintaining a strong and balanced physique. My favorite way to plan a routine is to coordinate it with the seasons.
The outdoor athlete bases their activities on the weather which already gives them an established system. For example, skiing is done mostly in the Winter, water sports in the Summer. Walking, running and cycling have the best conditions in the Spring and Autumn. There is a natural end to each sport or activity when the weather no longer supports it.
But you don’t have to be an athlete to change up your activities. If you tend a yard or a garden, you also have a natural change of movements.
In Winter, snow shoveling gives you a good full-body workout with all that pulling and rotating. In Spring you might be doing a bit of squatting with reaching as you plant and weed garden beds. Weekly lawn mowing in the Summer is a great way to engage all the pushing muscles. And in Fall, raking brings a nice challenge of upper body rotation (while snow shoveling gives you the upward rotating, raking balances that out with a downward rotation)
When it comes to your workout routine, the seasons give you the perfect 3-month time intervals to diversify your movements and keep your routines interesting and balanced. Here’s an example of how I might periodize a workout:
Quarter 4 (Q4): October-December
After a summer full of outdoor activity and fun (that’s the dream, at least), Fall is a great time to go a little heavier with weights or more challenging bodyweight exercises. Try slowing down the pace and working towards building your strength and muscle tone. The more muscle you build, the greater your metabolism will be, and the more leeway you’ll have for enjoying treats during those holiday parties!
With the limitations of cold weather in Winter, I think it’s the perfect time to focus on mobility, core work, and balance. You can think of this stage as your “Foundation Building Phase.” This would be the time to focus on movements that improve your posture, flexibility and mobility. You may like to do yoga or another Somatic Method. I use Awareness Through Movement (The Feldenkrais Method) as my go-to mobility-booster. Additionally, this is the perfect time to work on those deep core muscles. You don’t need warm weather to improve your plank!
When Spring is here, you will be not only mentally ready (give me some warm weather!), but you will have spent the past 3 months priming your core and posture to be ready for your shift into 12 weeks of endurance training. This time period could feature long walks, runs, and bike rides and longer duration strength circuits.
Summer is a time to hit those high intensity intervals. And don’t be fooled -- interval training is not just for the young and “invincible.” Interval training can be modified and adapted to any level. It’s a great way to get the heart pumping and especially great for those who don’t have time to work out for long periods of time. Take advantage of the weather and take your workouts outside to mix it up.
Of course there are other ways to break up your workouts. Maybe you prefer to do a combination of everything throughout the whole year. Or maybe you have no idea of where to even begin. Well, if you want to start with something, October is almost here- a perfect time to get your 4th quarter routine going. Imagine how good it will feel when New Year's Resolutions are upon us and you’ve already established your habit of exercising!