Is it challenging to train outdoors with low temperatures? Is it better to postpone our training for another time? One of the human body’s characteristics is that it is equally prepared to train in both high and low temperatures, although doing it at both extremes always poses a health risk. With lower degrees, the body must generate heat to prevent our body temperature from falling. Here, I will share the facts of the army cold-weather training. It implies a greater flow of blood to the skin and a greater loss of energy.
Army cold-weather training facts
If the thermostat in our home is responsible for keeping our house at a good temperature, the equivalent in a soldier’s body is the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that is responsible for different bodily functions. It is including evaluating the temperature of neurons and receiving that information from all areas of the body. If the hypothalamus detects that the temperature is low, it activates the appropriate mechanisms to increase it. An action that is replicated when we do training in cold outdoor areas:
The decrease in the thermometer’s degrees causes involuntary muscle contractions to appear that increase muscle tone. These contractions consume energy that is transformed into heat.
By this mechanism, the blood vessels narrow (reduce their diameter) and increase the resistance to blood passage that goes to the body surface. This prevents heat loss.
This common term that we use to refer to piloerection is another resource that the human body uses to keep warm: the hair on the skin rises, the air layer is trapped under the hair, and prevents heat loss.
The metabolism starts up:
Finally, the production of different hormones in the thyroid glands is stimulated and increased, the hormone THR and TSH rise (the latter in the pituitary), and, consequently, the rest of the body’s cells produce heat.
How and when do you have to train?
To begin with, Rodríguez remembers that daylight hours are always the best for training, especially during the first hours until noon.
Regarding the duration of physical exercise, it stands out that it will be given by habitual practice. As a general rule, whether indoor or outdoor, cold or hot, I find the best benefit/training time ratio in no more than 1 hour. We are going to find the key to training in intensity and not so much in high durations.
The expert also places special emphasis on choosing the equipment that we are going to use well and opting for breathable garments that will improve the regulation of body heat. You must be very generous, sheltering the most distal points: hands, feet, and head, and not go overboard with sweatshirts, double mesh, etc. We must bear in mind that the cold we feel as soon as we go outside is going to be very different from what we feel after only 5 minutes of training so that excess clothing can be very uncomfortable later on.
If you like to do outdoor training with push-ups, squats, burpees, etc., I would always choose circuit execution because we must avoid long rest times.
What not to do?
One of the most common mistakes when training in winter and outdoors is related to warming up. On the one hand, the lack of it can cause muscular injuries. On the other hand, when we go outside and face the cold, we warm up with too much intensity to warm up earlier. This is going to cause us more oxygen debt and it will weigh down all the training. Cold training does not change the general prescriptions of our warm-up.
In addition to the absence of warm-up, another cause of injury can be excess recovery time that causes our muscles to lose some degree of temperature. We must understand that if the temperature of the muscle drops, its viscosity also decreases, so its contractility will be compromised. Hence, we emphasize the importance of shortening rest times.
Lastly, not covering the extremities well (especially if there is poor peripheral circulation) can contribute to chilblains’ appearance. Rodríguez’s solution is to wear gloves, a brief, or a hat, which will never bother us when training.
So how can soldiers do training in the cold without compromising our health? Once they are well dressed and warmed up, they must gradually begin the first days of intense cold (below 4ºC) and increase the duration little by little during the first week. If you have never trained, it is better to start with indoor training in winter. It is too stressful for the first time. But you should never postpone or skip training because it’s cold!