The start of September is known to us as the transition. It’s the period of the year where nights begin to draw in, and there’s unfamiliarity about whether you should be leaving the house in more than just one layer. The slight chill that greets our morning training is met with acceptance that Winter is well and truly round the corner, even if we don’t care to admit it.
There are a few subtle tweaks to our daily lives that help ease us into this time of year, setting us up for the months ahead. When it comes to training, motivation starts to waiver at this time of year, but there are important foundations to put in place to support you through the transition.
The importance of warming up effectively is often overlooked before exercise. It feels like a laborious process that kind of gets in the way of the main workout. However, it’s valuable for injury prevention, and essentially “firing up” the muscles you’re about to use.
The enigma of the foam roller
For years, there has been debate about the foam roller, and its effectiveness. Nowadays it’s commonly agreed that if used the right way, it’s an important and effective tool to have in your locker. Essentially, the foam roller has brought massage therapy to the masses. Physio Mike Clark is credited by many for bringing the foam roller to the foreground of athletic communities with a term he coined “self-myofascial” release, a technical term for self-massage.
Tips and trips
Foam rolling before and after a workout has great benefits, but if you were to choose, rolling before is essential. Foam rolling before decreases muscle density and sets the stage for a good warm up. A good rule of thumb is to do 10 slow rolls in each position.
Look to focus on areas of tightness, but focusing on the glutes, lower back, upper back and TFL, is a good start. The TFL is a small muscle which is just in front of the side glute, or technical term, glute Medius.
We touched on the importance of dynamic warm-ups in our Winter Training Guide last year. Static stretching has its place in helping with flexibility, but warming up dynamically is essential for adding further stress to the muscles, priming them before the proper workout. It does the job of warming up the muscles and taking them through their full range of movement. Dynamic warmups include exercises such as walking leg cradle, front lunge with straight arm stretch and backward straight-leg deadlift walk.
The simple truth is that if you have a specifically designed programme, the likelihood of you going to the gym consistently skyrockets. As humans, we hardwired to enjoy consistency. There is nothing more important than having a well-tailored programme that aligns with your goals and helps you progress. Improvement comes from the fundamental principle of progressive overload. This simply refers to trying to overload the muscle week on week, be volume, intensity or density.
One of the most common forms of progressive overload, and one that we recommend if you’re a long way into your training journey, is intensity. This refers to increasing the external load lifted week on week. For example, if your programme calls for 3 sets of 8 reps of bench press, and week 1 you do 80kg, then look to slightly increase that load in week 2, say 82.5kg. It’s important to note that this strength gain may not be liner, and can be influenced by a number of factors such as sleep quality, nutrition, your general mood and so on. Don’t feel disheartened if you can’t improve every single week, but it’s a good principle to aim for.
We’d always advise to work with an industry expert that can deliver programmes to your specific needs. You first have to decide on what you want; do you want to get stronger, leaner, have better endurance? Once you have your goals established, seek out the best personal trainer that can deliver a programme to your specific needs. You don’t need to necessarily work one-to-one, but investing in a programme that is tailored to your goals will help you achieve them.
This undervalued commodity has one of the greatest impacts on your overall health and wellbeing. We live in a world where sleep isn’t prioritised, but sleep, or lack thereof, can have a huge impact on both mental and physical performance. Here are a few tips to get a good night’s sleep.
1. Establish a regular sleep-wake cycle.
You may have heard of the term circadian rhythm, which are 24-hour cycles part of the body’s internal clock, running in the background, carrying out essential functions and processes. During the transition into shorter days, the circadian rhythm may have a tougher time determining the correct sleep-wake cycle. During the day, light exposures cause the master clock to send signals that generate alertness and help keep us awake and active. On the other side of the spectrum, as night falls, the master clock initiates the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. This is why you may find it more difficult to get up in the Winter months as you’re greeted with darkness in the morning because of shorter days. Try and keep a consistent sleep-wake cycle through Winter, and you can do this by the simple use of a sunrise alarm clock in the morning, that gradually brightens the room simulating the sun rising. This simple tool will help keep your circadian rhythm in check.
2. Remove distractions, read more.
This is undoubtably a tough one, but try and get in the habit of leaving your phone in the other room before you go to bed. The phones blue light restrains the production of melatonin, interfering with the body’s natural sleep cycle. Phones are also made to be engaging, making it really tough to “switch off,” whether it’s from social media or work emails. Books are a great replacement in the evening, promoting calmness and relaxation before your body switches off before bed. One we’re reading at Torsa HQ right now is Mastery by Robert Greene––highly recommended.
The Right Gear
Ultimately, the transition into colder months means a wardrobe switch-up. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve been living in sportswear because of its comfort and versatility. The chillier mornings now mean it’s time to layer up, so here are our picks for visiting the gym and for training/running outside.
If you’re a gym-goer, gone are the days where you can quickly pop on your training shorts and performance t-shirt and head off to the gym. It’s now a case of layering up. For us, trips to-and-from the gym are made for our Ace ½ Zip and Wolf Training Pant. The versatility of the Ace means it works perfectly as a layering piece to keep you warm on your way to the gym, but also doesn’t look out of place on your well-deserved coffee post-gym. It can transition seamlessly from gym to lifestyle, and its warmth and comfort can stand the test deep into the Winter months.
The Wolf Training Pant offers the same level of versatility as the Ace, but it’s also perfect for training. The 4-way stretch Japanese fabric is moisture-wicking and breathable, making it ideal for those light to mid-intensity sessions. They are also water-repellent in case you’re unfortunate enough to get caught in the rain!
The Outside Training Session
Whether you’re training outside or running the streets, there is a standout performer in our range for these transitional months, the Otis. This midweight t-shirt is made using a blend of the finest Merino wool sourced from New Zealand. The soft and subtle nature of Merino wool make it perfect for comfort, but it’s the natural properties that really provide the value. As far as natural fibres go, Merino truly is one of the most incredible on the planet. The technical properties are endless, but it’s the ability to regulate body temperature, wick away moisture and breathe that make it perfect for the transitional months. We explored the making of our Otis earlier this year, and if you want to learn more, you can read that article here.
There it is. A few tips and tricks to help you through the transition. The most important bit of advice that we can give is to remain consistent. We hope these tools will keep you focused on your training and fitness goals moving into the colder months, and as always, keep making moves.