Struggling to find fitness motivation during the dark, cold winter months? We hear from personal trainer Caroline Idiens, who shares her top tips on getting motivated to exercise during winter, plus an easy at-home workout to help you get started…

So, it’s dark when you wake up, then dark again at 4pm in the afternoon. It’s starting to get colder and Winter is on the horizon. How do we find the motivation during winter to maintain those fitness levels that we’ve worked so hard on throughout the year?

Here are some top tips on finding fitness motivation in winter that I share with my clients on a regular basis, together with a simple workout that you can do at home to keep energy levels high…

How to find fitness motivation in winter

1. Have your fitness kit ready the night before

If your kit is laid out and waiting you are more likely to spring into action. You could also download a playlist of your favourite music the night before. Or, if you are doing a prerecorded workout online, have it up and ready to go.

2. Set that alarm and get straight up

The more you think about getting up, the more you will procrastinate! So, if you’re a morning person, set that alarm and get straight up. Plus if you exercise first thing in the day you can get it done before the other jobs you have planned take over.

3. Make set plans to hold yourself accountable

It’s all too easy to tell yourself you’ll go for a run, before finding excuses and staying home. Instead, why not arrange to meet a friend for a run, or for a coffee after a fitness class. You could even book a place in a live class. If you have a plan in place and you are accountable, you are more likely to stick to it.

4. Find fitness motivation by keeping a record of your workouts

There is nothing more satisfying than looking back and seeing how far you’ve come, as well as how consistent you’ve been. Keep a record of your completed workouts and be proud of your dedication and achievements!

5. Use exercise to manage your stress levels during winter

It’s a stressful time in the lead up to Christmas. So, take this half an hour of exercise as time for you! Exercise is a great stress reliever, mood booster and will actually leave you feeling energised!

6. Set yourself a fitness goal or a challenge to boost motivation

It may be nearly the end of the year but there’s no need to wait until January! If you have a target to go towards then it’s a great mental objective. Don’t set unrealistic goals as they may be hard to fulfill when you are time poor but train for an event, start ‘couch to 5k’, try a new class at the gym/online and it’s all so motivating.

7. Get outside during winter

If you can’t fit in a workout, just try to get outside for a walk at least once a day. Being in nature does wonders for our physical and mental health. Plus, you’ll get a nice dose of vitamin D and time away from your computer!

8. Think of how you’ll feel afterwards

Finally, remember how great you are going to feel after your workout! Even just 30 minutes will leave you feeling both mentally and physically more motivated and ready to take on the day. Plus, you are also boosting your immunity, ready for cold and flu season. You’re likely to sleep better too!

Quick at-home workout to kickstart your winter fitness motivation…

Here is a quick workout to do at home to get you started. This is the perfect mix of strength and cardio if you are short of time but need an energy boost.

Remember you can do the exercises with just bodyweight if you don’t have dumbbells plus you can always take the low impact alternatives in the cardio exercises.

The workout: 10 exercises

Perform 2 or 3 sets. Make sure you warm up and cool down.

  • Beginner – 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest.
  • Intermediate – 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest.
  • Advanced – 50 seconds on, 10 seconds rest.

1. Sumo Squats

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart holding the weights in front of your chest together.
  2. Slowly sit back as if into a chair, keeping knees tracking over the toes and back straight, chest lifted.
  3. When you are at 90 degrees with the floor slowly drive back up squeezing your glutes as you do so.
  4. Build up gradually, you do not have to go too low to start with. The key is to keep the knees out and do not round your shoulders or arch your back.

2. Skaters

  1. The skater is a lateral jump where you power the body from one side to the other landing in a squat position (single leg squat) as you perform the skating motion.
  2. Arms alternate as you explode off of one foot and switch sides. If you wish to do a lower impact movement you can step from side to side instead of jumping.

3. Push Ups

  1. You can start a press up on your knees or on your toes (or against a wall too). Take your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart on your mat.
  2. Slowly bring your chest towards the floor ensuring your elbows are about a 45 degree angle to your body and your back is completely straight with your head in line with your spine.
  3. Come forward over your hands and when your chest comes to the point you are comfortable then push back upwards, keeping your core engaged and all in one fluid movement.
  4. Build up gradually. If you are doing a full press up start in a high plank position and again lower yourself slowly to the floor.

4. Bicep Curls

  1. Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging by your sides. Ensure your elbows are close to the side of your body with your palms facing forward.
  2. Keeping your upper body stationary exhale as you curl the weights up to shoulder level while contracting your biceps, taking care not to lean back or swing your arms. Keep your core engaged throughout.
  3. Once you reach the top slowly lower the arms for the second rep.

5. Reverse Lunges with knee drive

  1. Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart, shoulders back and chest lifted. Slowly take a big stride backwards bending the back knee to 90 degrees to the floor and keeping the front knee strong without caving in as you do so.
  2. Power yourself back to standing and swap legs. If you want an extra challenge bring the back knee into a forward crunch as you bring the leg back to standing to engage the core.
  3. Make sure you keep upright throughout. If you wish for extra resistance you could hold weights too.

6. Mountain Climbers

  1. Begin in a plank position, shoulders over wrists, core engaged and with a straight back.
  2. Bring one knee then the other towards your chest alternately and keep switching legs, picking up the pace if you feel able and keeping the hips down.

7. Tricep Extensions

  1. Stand in a semi lunge position with one knee forward and bent, hinging at the hip and with a dumbbell in one hand. Tuck your upper arm close to your torso and slowly extend that arm fully backwards to lift the weight up.
  2. As you do so you contract the tricep at the top, pause then return to the start.
  3. Take care not to swing the arm and keep the back straight throughout. Once you have completed all the reps on this side, swap sides.

8. Jump Squats

  1. Standing with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, send the hips back as you squat, tapping the floor in the middle with your hands and then explosively jump back, landing with soft knees.
  2. If you would rather not jump, keep to static squats. Ensure you keep looking forwards and your back is straight throughout.

9. Shoulder Press

  1. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hold both dumbbells at a 90 degree angle at shoulder height.
  2. As you exhale, press the weights above your head without touching them at the top. Keep looking forward.
  3. Return to the start position slowly and keep the elbows still at shoulder height before you repeat the exercise. Try not to lean back, tuck the bottom under and engage your abs. You can also do this seated or kneeling.

10. Plank Hold

  1. Begin in the full plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Keep your back straight and your body in a straight line from your ears to your toes.
  2. Hold this position without raising your hips and engaging your abdominals. Build up slowly!

Having qualified as a Personal Trainer in 2001, Caroline Idiens has spent 20 years working directly with clients one on one or with group exercise classes and 2020 saw her launch Caroline’s Circuits, an online membership fitness platform offering live 30 minute workouts focussed on strength training. Head to carolinescircuits.com to try your first class for free!

Click here for Judy Murray’s top tips on finding fitness motivation.