A shift in temperature, a few drops of rain and your perceived ‘Spartan’ training regime comes to a halt for 4 months only to be repeated, changed and not even improved upon in a last gasp effort before what I call Judgement Day – flesh to the world in your new beach canvasing attire. In all honesty, although you think you are up there with ‘The Hoff’, you are only down what you slabbed on in the cold months. A mental shift towards winter training will not only singe untampered body-fat, but could even save you on that new costume.

As a species we are both physically and mentally weak, and any excuse to opt out is most gladly accepted, but is it to our own detriment? – Ask yourself these questions: Is our winter really that harsh that we need to quit gymming? Do we need social pressure to inspire us to train? Do we fear body success? Do we prefer to spend summer indoors training rather than outdoors playing? I think you can see my angle.

It’s a great time to focus on putting on lean muscle, by doing hypertrophy and strength programs, these will improve your neuromuscular system and give you a great foundation to launch the body changing, fat scorching and metabolism enhancing power phase. This is when neuromuscular demanding exercises are done in succession, focussing on short high intensity work which forces the body to accelerate, decelerate and dynamically stabilize forces upon, within and throughout it, which promotes lactic acid. This disassociates into lactate and hydrogen when produced, with the latter causing the ph of blood to lower which increases respiration and eventually inhibits muscle contractions. This is where your indestructible summer body will be made by learning how to tolerate, utilize and buffer levels of hydrogen and deal with the pain associated with this metabolic condition.

Sounds like a lot of hard work, but when you look at the benefits, it might make you reconsider. Your strength will be maintained, a greater aerobic base reached, a more efficient and able body geared for performance installed and metabolism like a forest fire that can be fed with your favourite outdoor activities throughout summer. Oh, did I forget to mention your Adonis or Aphrodite body, which won’t look out of place with ‘Titanium’ being pumped in the clubs, as a by-product.

Something to note:

Muscle is the primary organ that oxidizes fat. So it makes sense to increase muscle through weight training. Lean tissue is metabolically more active than fat. Increasing lean tissue, will increase your resting metabolic rate. 500g of muscle burns 30-50 kcal/day. 500g of fat 2 kcal/day. With age causing atrophy of muscle and increased fat gain, it makes sense to reverse the effects of ageing.  Consider this 5kg of fat will burn 20 kcal/day compared to 300-500 kcal if it were muscle.

So where’s your excuse now! Are you really going to let a few degrees stand between you and the body you have always been craving. Here are some tips to develop the mental toughness to combat any negativity that the cold can nurture up:

  1. Start with the right attitude and state of mind (know what your core confidence is all about):
    • Confidence comes in knowing you are prepared and having an unshakable belief in your abilities to reach intended goals.
  2. Program your mind for success ahead of time with positive affirmations and expectations:
    • Expect the best from yourself; affirm what it is you are going to do to be successful.
    • Visualize yourself performing the way you want (confident, energized, full focus).
  3. Routinize Your Behaviours:
    • Training (Commit yourself to giving it everything you have the entire session with precision and focus).
  4. Poise and Composure:
    • Learn how to let go of mistakes (an unhealthy meal or skipped gym session) quickly if things do not go the way you want.
    • A key part of mental training is about compensating, adjusting, and trusting.
    • Be persistent and mentally tough, don’t allow frustration to undermine your confidence/focus.
  5. Take control of Negative Self-Talk:
    • Starts with awareness of situations that cause you to get frustrated, rushed, intimidated, lose focus – then reframe the negativity into positive, mentally tough self-suggestions.
  6. Be a difference maker, step up and be in peak condition when it matters the most – make the beach your playground.

“To be mentally tough is to resist the urge to give up in the face of failure, to maintain focus and determination in pursuit of one’s goals, and to emerge from adversity even stronger than before.” 

You have the motivation but when reality sets in and everyone else around you is crumbling as they accept their feeble 2012 bodies, which contributed to making us (Cape Town) South Africa’s most unfit city, you will feel alone, but remember there are other Avengers out there doing the same as you.

Stick to the 10 commandments of a Winter Warrior:

  1. Keep a weekly outdoor training session in your routine.
  2. Take a bottle of water everywhere you go.
  3. When dining with friends, have a healthy soup.
  4. Have an indoor swimming session, which will force you into your costume, once a month.
  5. Wash your hands regularly, to avoid germs.
  6. Plan extra sleep.
  7. Send sick work colleagues home.
  8. Invite a friend to train with you on Fridays after work.
  9. Write a fitness blog
  10. Regular photo uploads on Twitter: #LiveRipped

I look forward to seeing ripped sinew instead of coke cans littered on our beaches this summer, our winter months warmed up from the heat coming from perspiration-powered training hubs across the city and a fitness united Cape Town with a One Legion, One Philosophy, One Heartbeat mind-set. The difference starts with you!