Winter Training: Vitamin-D and Heat for Gaining

Winter Training: Vitamin-D and Heat for Gaining
by Jonathan Lawson

Now that the weather outside is frightful across large portions of the country, many trainees tend to notice a decrease in their overall motivation and conditioning.  Many will notice an increase in strength and bodyweight during the winter months, but that can usually be attributed to higher calories and new winter-based training routines.

Once spring arrives, however, many people begin to train harder in preparation for outdoor adventures.  Often without even thinking too hard about it, trainees find themselves making better gains and starting to look better.  The increase in ambient heat and sunshine may have something to do with it, along with sweating. Obviously, the sweat helps to drop water from under the skin, and that means more vascularity and a bit of color from spending more time outside tends to amplify that effect greatly.

Studies in recent years have shown that heat can help to improve the rate of skeletal muscle regrowth and that it may potentially increase new muscle mass through a decrease in oxidative stress and damage. More proof that Vince Gironda was well ahead of his time, he refused to have air conditioning in the gym back in the days of his gym in Hollywood.  No, it wasn’t because he was cheap, but because he swore that a warm gym allowed for better and faster results. That may be just another small piece of the puzzle explaining why he had some of the best bodybuilders in the world training there.

While heat alone seems to be a muscle maker, it’s the spring and summer sunshine which may also be a key part of the anabolic potion giving people their best gains in the warm months.  Aside from the fact that the sun’s warmth raises body temperature, getting sun exposure has been shown to help boost testosterone levels… Likely because of it triggering the body’s production of vitamin D, which is incredibly important for a healthy immune system and optimal hormone levels. According to some recent data, one in three Americans is deficient in vitamin-D.  Low levels of vitamin-D have been linked to everything from cancer to heart disease.  Overexposure to the sun has also been linked to increased skin cancer, but it’s been shown that massive levels of sunshine aren’t required for optimal health… An easy-to-get 15 minutes every few days without sun block seems to be good enough.

So, what to do in order to grow more during winter and keep vitamin-D levels high as well?  Here are a few simple things to keep you on track:

1) Data suggests about 1,000 milligrams a day of supplemental vitamin-D is helpful when you’re not getting enough sun exposure.

2) Dress to sweat!  Wear sweat pants and a sweatshirt if necessary to keep warm.

3) Do enough occasional cardio to sweat and raise your body temperature.

4) Use a hot tub, Jacuzzi or sauna.

5) If the sun is out and it’s warm enough, try being in it for 30 to 45 minutes if possible (15 minutes is good in summer, but the sun’s rays have lower intensity in the winter).  If it’s too cold, bundle up, but expose your head and neck to catch what rays you can.

About the Author
Jonathan Lawson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years; weight training for 21 years, competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, worked for IRON MAN Magazine for 17 years, co-owns where he has co-published over 15 e-books and writes a daily training blog.  He has appeared on the covers of, and been featured in, dozens of international magazines, books and e-books.

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