Some of you may be wondering, how am I going to push or pull a sled in two feet of snow this winter? Or how am I going to be able to put in my weekly rucks? Don’t worry, we have a plan for the winter season.
Our home base is located in Park City, UT so when it comes to weather and specifically winter, we know how it goes. One day it’s nice and sunny and the next day it’s dumping down fresh powder. So how do we grunt work in the winter?
Weather is always going to be an issue. Whether it’s a 100-degree day or 20-degree day, we need to learn to adapt. This is how we will become better. It’s like adapting to odd-objects, we may not like it, but the more we do it, the more we adapt.
Yes, winter is coming, so let’s recognize it and OWN it.
With that said, we do have some tips for adapting to the colder weather from Matt Shaffer, a Grunt Work member.
- Stay hydrated.Yes, you are going to sweat more but your body will be able to regulate its own temperature when it’s well hydrated.
- Have water readily available.When the weather turns very cold the dew point/humidity falls very low. You will feel your sinus cavity and throat dry very quickly once you start breathing heavily. Staying hydrated will help prevent chapping. Drink small amounts just to moisten your airway.
- Keep your feet dry.Second to your head you will lose heat very quickly through wet feet. Also, wet feet lend to blisters. Waterproof breathable footwear is very important. Gore-Tex or eVent lined boots or shoes are highly recommended when dealing with cold/wet environments. Wear wicking socks, wool or synthetic blends (cotton kills). Also, beware of wearing overly thick socks. The thicker your sock the more susceptible your foot is to movement/friction and blisters. In really cold situations consider an insulated boot.
- Don’t overdress.Stay warm (layers or parka) until you begin your workout but you’re going to heat up and sweat as soon as you start burning those calories. Make sure to wear breathable clothing items. We prefer wicking (lightweight) merino base layers. If it’s cold and precipitating you might need a breathable water repellent layer (Gore-Tex, eVent, 37.5, Toray, Schoeller, etc.) right on top of your wicking base layer.
- It’s easier to stay warm than to get warm.After your workout make sure to layer up or changeup, especially if you are wet. Keep your layers breathable so you can continue to dry. Down doesn’t breathe, yes it’s warm but you won’t dry. Look for synthetic insulations like Primaloft, Polartec, etc. You are going to be happier when you are warm and dry.
Here are some suggestions when it comes to gear.
- Need to be waterproof and have good traction.This could arguably be one of the most important pieces you get above anything else. If you live in an area that gets snow, rain, and inclement weather, I would suggest some kind of Gore-Tex or waterproof shoes. Snow tends to add in a new dynamic and you may have to go with more of a boot instead of a trail runner or light hiker. The traction will be key as well, but if you already have a pair of shoes or boots you dig check out Yak Tracks. This could be a good option for you to gain some traction in hard pack snow.We recommend Lowa Boots (Gore-Tex) and Altera Conquer socks.
Visit these brands for some other good footwear options: 5.11 Tactical, Under Armour, Danner, Merrell.
- Look for something that is light and breathable.
- We’re a fan of light and puffy coats for most everything. Synthetic tends to work the best since it can keep you warm when you’re wet and tends to dry out faster. If you are in a warmer climate, make sure you have something that is breathable.
- We recommend the Sitka Kelvin Active Jacket, First Lite Vapor Stormlight Rain Jacket, and the Kifaru Lost Park Parka. We also love these First Lite Wick tops.
- Visit these brands for some other good jacket options: North Face, Arc’Teryx, REI, Backcountry.
- Grab something that’s breathable and will work with your shoes.Shooters choice here and this depends on what you’re going to be hiking in (snow, mud, etc.) as well as your footwear. Most of us can get away with any kind of pants and if needed we can add a simple base layer to it to stay warm. Again, make sure it’s breathable.Here are some bottom wear options that we recommend – Edz Merino Brief, First Lite Long John, Sitka Timberline Pant, and a Kuiu climbing belt.Visit these websites for some other good pant options: REI, Backcountry.
- Look for grip for carries and warmth for rucks.
- Gloves can vary in thickness and if you plan on still doing carries outside, a simple Mechanix glove can take the edge off the cold and still allow for some solid grip. If you’re going out for a ruck, you may want something with some more insulation depending on how cold it is.Here are our recommend glove options – Mountain Standard Mtn Utility Glove and Kryptek Kottos Glove.Visit these websites for a variety of other glove options: REI, Backcountry.
- Good headwear can go a long way. Check out the Kuiu Ultra-Merino Beanie for lightweight option and the IceBreaker Sierra Beanie for a medium weight option. You can always visit REI and Backcountry for more options.
Good gear can go a long way, but sometimes the weather is out of control and we should stay inside. If this is the case, check out our movement subs below for sled pulls, sled pushes, long carries, and rucks.
- This movement can be done inside if you have a reasonable amount of space. A 50-foot stretch should be enough even though it’s quite a bit of turning around. Try making a “box” or “circle” path with your space to pull the sled in. Also, try shortening the strap so the sled doesn’t get too far away from you. If dragging a sled inside is not an option, do a banded glute march. This is an excellent sub and is simple to do. They key is just doing it for the same amount of time the duration would be for the listed length in the workout
- The same thing can be applied here as with the sled pulls. Pushes can be even more effective at shorter distances. Just add more weight than normal and go for a shorter distance. This will create a similar time domain for the push.
- For any of the longer carries, you can always substitute for isometric work instead. It’s not nearly as exciting but has tremendous value. Isometric work is simply holding the weight in place for roughly the same amount of time it would take you to carry it. This will help create the same kind of stimulus and arguably make you more mentally tough. You can even do some marching in place to change things up a bit while holding the weight.
- I would like to tell you there is no excuse to not ruck as long as you have the right gear to get outside in the inclement weather, but there may be some days that this just can’t happen. If this is the case for you, we have a few options. Crash the local globo gym and jump on a treadmill with the pack and go for it. Or, if you don’t want to be “that person,” try some simple marching in place, box step ups, or even just wearing your weight vest or pack while you do some of your daily activities or work around the house. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s still time under tension which is much of what the ruck is.
There you have it. Now you have no excuses to get that grunt work in over the winter. Always remember to have fun with it and with the weather. For many of us in the snowy climates, we can ditch the metal sled and pull out the plastic ones, like an old plastic wheelbarrow bin. Try loading up your kids in the sled and be the workhorse to carry them back up to the top of the hill! You’ll be the parent, uncle, or family friend of the year. Or tow them behind you on a sled while you take the dog out for a walk on the snowy streets. Grunt Work was designed to be flexible, fun, and effective. Get out there and get it done.