How You Can Burn More Calories, Even When It's Cold

Specialist performs squats during workout in Iraq.
Spc. Paul Rochelle, help desk technician with the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), leads the formation in series of exercises on Joint Base Balad, Iraq. (Spc. Zane Craig/103rd Sustainment Command, Expeditionary)

How do I run, keep burning calories and not gain weight during the winter months? I know that running is difficult outside because of snow and ice, and staying inside and eating more food is becoming a dangerous habit for many people, but there are options.

As far as getting out of the cold, treadmills, stationary bikes and indoor pools are a big favorite, not only during the winter but year-round. Doing 15-30 minutes a day on these indoor machines will keep you in fighting shape during the winter. But if you do not have access to an indoor training facility, try jumping rope or jumping jacks to get the heart pumping, and then mix the calisthenics leg exercises listed below for a challenging cardio and resistance training workout.

Exercising your legs is very often overlooked by even the most avid weightlifters and exercisers. Many people simply cannot and should not perform some of the more basic leg exercises like squats and lunges because of knee and lower-back injuries. But that does not mean you have to neglect the pillars of our bodies' foundation. Doing leg workouts not only make your legs stronger and able to support your body better, but you will burn more calories in your workouts by incorporating a leg routine.

Since your lower body has the biggest muscles in your body, you can kick-start your metabolism and burn more calories by exercising the thighs, hamstrings, calves, lower back and glutes. You will find that leg workouts also have a cardiovascular element to them. Once again, this is because these muscles require so much more blood, so the heart will beat more to supply new blood to the lower body.

The exercises


Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Drop your butt back as though sitting in a chair. Concentrate on squeezing your glutes in your upward motion. Keep your heels solid on the ground. Grab some dumbbells to make it more challenging and only do a half-squat to place less strain on your knees. An alternate exercise for squats is the leg extension machine.


The lunge is a great leg exercise to develop shape and flexibility. Keep your chest up straight and your stomach tight. Take a long step forward and drop your back knee toward the ground, but keep the front shin vertical; do not overextend. Want to make it more of a challenge? Grab some dumbbells. Make it easier on your knees by only going down halfway. An alternate exercise for lunges is the leg curl machine. (If you have injured knees, you may want to skip this one.)

These exercises work the largest muscles of the body -- the butt and the legs. By exercising these muscles, you will speed up your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day.

The Workout:

Warmup bike, walk or run for 5:00


Repeat three times. 

Squats: 20 reps 

Lunges: 10 reps/leg

Bike, jog or walk: 5:00

You will find leg workouts to be challenging, and you may be quite sore the following day. Do not neglect your post-exercise stretch routine, and you will be much less sore. Do legs 2-3 times a week and rest your legs 2-3 days before another leg workout. On days that you do not do leg calisthenics, try to bike, walk or run, and stretch well to break up the soreness of the leg workout the previous day.

P.S.: You will burn at least 200% more calories by adding leg PT to your walk or jog. 

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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