Working out outside in the spring, summer, or fall is a breeze. Working out outside in the winter, however, can be a bit of a challenge.
Why? Because winters can get absurdly cold and can make a simple jog feel like a fast track to frostbite land.
Of course, there is a way to deal with the winter cold during workouts: wear layers. Wondering how to layer clothes for a winter workout? Read on to find out!
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How Many Layers are Recommended?
Depending on where you live and depending on the exact time of the year, winter weather can fluctuate anywhere from sub-zero temperatures to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, you won’t always have to wear the same number of layers when working out during the winter.
While your own personal comfort plays a large factor in the number of layers you should wear, there are some loose guidelines designating the number of layers typically needed to accommodate comfort in specific temperature ranges. We’re going to review those guidelines below.
25 to 40 Degrees Fahrenheit
Temperatures between 25 and 40 degrees are cold, but far from miserably cold. Overall, working out in temperatures such as these will feel fairly comfortable, meaning you won’t have to pack on too many layers. For most individuals, two layers of clothing are ideal in this temperature range.
0 to 25 Degrees Fahrenheit
Once the temperature creeps below 25, it starts to feel fairly offensive. Not only will you feel it in your muscles, bones, and joints, but in your breathing as well. While working out in temperatures between 0 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit, most individuals should wear three layers of clothing.
Sub-zero temperatures are so cold that most individuals choose to avoid them entirely. However, if you’re really gung-ho about getting out there, you should plan on wearing at least four layers of clothing.
How to Layer Clothes During Winter Workouts
It’s not just important to know how many layers are necessary during a winter workout, it’s also important to know what comprises these layers. Below, we’re going to get into the specifics of the different layers, focusing on both torso and leg coverings. Here is how to create layers with cold weather clothing.
The Inner Layer
The inner layer of clothing is the heat-trapping layer. In this layer, the goal is to both trap body heat and wick away perspiration. The best way to accomplish this is by utilizing tight-fitting clothing.
For the torso, it’s recommended that you wear a compression shirt. While both short and long-sleeved compression shirts are available, you’ll likely be best off with a long-sleeved version.
For the legs, compression tights would be a good option. As with compression shirts, compression tights do a terrific job of capturing body heat and staving off sweat buildup.
Regardless of what you do, make sure to avoid cotton in this layer. Cotton is an absorbent material, one which will soak up your sweat and leave it feeling cool against your body. This is not the effect you’re looking for when working out in winter weather.
The Middle Layer
Whereas the inner layer is used for capturing body heat and wicking away sweat, the middle layer is used for insulating the body. If your goal is to stay as warm as possible, you’re going to want to really focus in on this layer.
Unlike the inner layer, the middle layer should not be close-fitting. In fact, you’re actually going to want it to be a little loose. Looseness not only promotes free body movement, but it also adds some space between your body and the chilliness of the outside world.
Clothing items to consider for the middle layer of your torso include fleece pullovers and spandex vests. However, if you’re in a pinch, a cotton sweatshirt would suffice.
As far as the legs go, a pair of running pants is best. These pants should be fairly snug, but not so snug as to restrict movement.
The Outer Layer
The outer layer is the protective shell of clothing layers. It protects your body not only from cold but from wind and rain as well. For this reason, it must be thick, cold-resistant, and water-resistant.
If you’re out for a run, you’re probably not going to want to wear a big skiing coat. Instead, you should think about wearing a standard running jacket. These polyester jackets will block wind and resist moisture without putting unnecessary strain on the body.
As far as leg coverage goes for this layer, you’re free to make a few choices. If your legs feel comfortable with two layers, there’s no reason to add any additional layers. However, if they don’t, you might want to consider putting a pair of shorts on over your compression tights.
In most cases, three layers of cold weather clothing will suffice. However, if you’re braving sub-zero temperatures, it might be a good idea to add on another layer.
For the torso, you should consider adding another fleece pullover or spandex vest. When it comes to the legs, you might consider adding another pair of running pants.
Warming the Extremities
The above-reviewed layers cover only the torso, the legs, and the arms. They don’t cover the extremities such as the hands, the head, and the feet. Of course, when you’re working out in cold weather, these body parts need protection as well.
For the head, a woolen or cotton stocking cap will probably be needed. At the very least, you’ll need to put on an ear-warming headband.
When it comes to the hands, thick, cotton-stuffed, waterproof gloves are recommended. If temperatures are especially assaulting, you might even want to double up on the gloves.
As far as the feet go, think thick socks. In warmer winter temperatures, one pair will suffice. Once the temperature gets down below 0, you might have to utilize two.
Of course, proper footwear should always be worn while exercising as well. Running shoes are a must.
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And that’s how to layer clothes during a winter workout. As long as you abide by the above-reviewed guidelines, you can plan on a safe and comfortable run, walk, or jog.
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