Will you be switching up your training sessions during the winter period? I certainly wont be, neither will many of my clients. Why? Because our long term goals remain the same!
For many of us the upcoming period is a time to allow consumption of more calories in order to put our bodies in a comfortable state to recover and build, But should our training change throughout the winter because of this? This is of course a very individual question dependent on someones goal(s), however I believe the answer is that your training doesn't necessarily need to change in most cases. What should be changed however is the approach when it comes to the same or similarly structured sessions. We need to consider that while the exercises can easily remain the same we need to shift the methods we use during these routines in order to benefit us more while in a state of higher caloric intake.
Firstly our training should be based around a few things, to name a few:
• Our Primary Long Term Goals.
• Smaller Short and Medium Term Goals.
• The Stage we are at in our Diet, Cutting, Bulking, Maintenance etc.
• Our Injury Status
• How we are feeling on the day both physically and mentally.
Taking all these factors into account and if the aim of each session will almost always remain the same regarding exercises (as we're ultimately working toward the same long term goal), why should we feel the need to completely switch up our training regime as if we suddenly think our bodies wont respond to what we've been doing all along when in reality all that's changed is our caloric intake? All these extra calories will allow is to now build upon what we already have, using forms of progressive overload as a means of increasing strength and ultimately muscle mass in many of the same exercises we've used up until now.
While emphasis may shift by means of additional short term goals or even the occasional unwanted plateau requiring real action, this does not mean we should change everything that up until this point has worked like an absolute dream - A simple change in Volume, Rest Periods, Intensity or even implementing a De-Load could be enough to break through training barriers without a complete change in routine. Now i'm not saying EVERYTHING must remain the same, but some KEY exercises need to remain consistent to show improvement from both a physical and mental exercises. An example would be if as your primary lower body movement you're Back Squatting one week, Deadlifting the next week and Front Squatting the week after, you're not very likely to gain much in the way of strength on all of those, if any at all. Key movements need to be identified based around your goals and focused upon, from there you may choose, chop and change assistance exercises (albeit not ideal) based around tedium, equipment accessibility and so on.
At the end of the day It all comes down to this - If you want to gain muscle like the majority of us (News flash guys and girls, what's referred to as "Toning" is also essentially gaining muscle), we should be in a controlled surplus of calories all while working to improve what we currently already do. While things may need to be change after becoming stale and tedious over time, for the most part your routine doesn't need to drastically change unless your goals do. If you're content with what you do and have found a routine you enjoy and that suits your lifestyle, you will be able to achieve great progress over time through being consistent with both your nutrition and exercise, with a dash of progressive overload.
I always get asked the question of "How long should i do this routine for" and my answer is always the same: "How long is a piece of string?" - While it's not ideal from a mental standpoint for many people to be doing the same routine forever, that isn't to say that one day you'll no longer be able to achieve anything. Provided your nutrition is aimed in the right direction for your desired goal and you apply some form of progressive overload continuously over time, you will continue to make "gains". Improvements can and will be made over the winter period, but we don't need to bend over backwards trying to find "the next best workout routine" in order to make progress - The key to this lies within your ability to push yourself harder over time while giving your body sufficient recovery via solid and consistent nutrition and sufficient rest.
Time to grow.