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Kettlebell The cold, cold bells!


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I train either outside or in a room with no heat (usually- there’s a woodstove but I rarely bother to light it unless we are using that room for something else. Just a workout is hardly worth the effort.) so yeah I feel you. I also train barefoot 99% of the time, and man that floor/ground gets cold sometimes. I’ve never done any extra warmup in winter compared to the warmer months. Then again I also am almost always doing this stuff in the evening, so I’ve been moving all day by then, which helps.
I've trained outside with kettlebells up to at least -20°C or -30°C. I've never had a problem doing a set or two. I typically went back in for the rest period. If you can't get indoors on breaks, maybe a game of billiards to keep the hands warm?
My basement is about 50F / 10C all winter long. I point a space heater at the bells I’m going to use about a half hour before I start. Warm bells makes a huge difference. I’m also careful about keeping my back warm so I start off in a couple of layers that I lose as I go along.
My garage low this winter was -20F/-29C. Usually I start bringing my bells inside when the temps get below 50F/10C. This is primarily due to comfort. However, I have found using bells that have been left outside below 32F/0C starts to hurt my hands - not in the torn-up kind of way showcased on another thread here, but in the "bro you're holding onto a super cold block of ice" kind of way. Metal left overnight at 0F/-18C is painfully cold. Maybe I'm just being a baby, but if I am I'm a big one! Wait... ;)

Other Ways I deal with temperature:

1. Stick hands in pockets between sets. Around or below 0F/-18C, my hands start getting quite cold quite quickly, and below -10F/-23C, it can get almost painful, even if just out "naked" for a set.
- If between sets is long enough, I'll put on gloves. If not, I'll stick my hands in my pockets. Above 0F/-18C, this quickly becomes an issue of "how warm can I get my hands without getting sweaty." Don't get sweaty.
- I don't wear gloves when I'm handling bells at all. I don't feel confident doing swings and snatches wearing gloves, but perhaps if I was just doing a single clean to set up a set of front squats or presses I could manage. I think I did do some getups wearing wool mittens and they weren't bad.

2. Wear clothing designed for activity at cold temperatures. Layer. Remove layers as you warm up and minimize sweating. Wool socks are my friends.
- In temps above 20F/-7C I usually just wear a pair of lightweight joggers or my winter running tights and a longsleeve synthetic shirt, but I'll start out with a thicker fleece on top until I warm up.
- In temps below that, I will frequently wear long johns (I think mine are some synthetic type, but commonly I see silk or wool), and then some light pants on bottom (or rarely thicker sweatpants). On top, I'll add a lightweight "grid" synthetic top, and on top of that I'll add a lightweight windbreaker and/or the aforementioned thicker fleece.

3. Shoes (and wool socks). While I prefer to train barefoot, after a certain point I start wearing wool socks. Below about 10F/-12C I start wearing boots as well. Numb feet I can't feel I don't trust. Maybe I'm just a baby about cold feet. The extra layer between my feet and the floor really helps minimize heat loss.

There is an awkward period (rather short) in the fall and spring when the condensation is extreme and I need towels to dry off the bells and floor from them "sweating." Haven't found a solution to that.

I have not gone the route of a space heater mostly due to cost and that my garage is not insulated. There were a couple times this year I did not train in the garage due to the cold - naked hands said no, my mind was weak. Below 0F/-18C is as much a mental challenge to me as it is a physical one. Above that, as long as the bells were inside, it isn't all that bad.

I have found this winter that doing a more dedicated 10-15 minute warmup to really warm up my knees, hips, back, and shoulders made a huge difference in how I felt the rest of the session. It seems that warmups are a bit pooh-poohed here, but they are worth it to me on cold mornings.

I have to say - @offwidth is much more experienced that I am in cold weather and quite often I've run something by him just to make sure I'm not going to do something stupid, and watching @Alexander Halford snatch barefoot in the snow challenges my sense of cold. I need to embrace my inner Wim Hof more.
Sometimes it drops to 50 degrees here in the winter. But my thermostat always reads 70 lol. We’re really pretty spoiled weather wise in the Bay Area. (NorCal)
Nah, no way barefoot. The three main points of heat loss are feet, hands, head. Wear shoes and beanie, and you're good. Once it's warm enough, you can only leave your hat on (and underwear maybe :D ) Having a thermo with tea for sipping in between the sets is a good idea.
If you want to add a base layer, use something with thermal reflective, like Columbia's OmniHeat, it's fairly light and warm.
While I prefer to train barefoot, after a certain point I start wearing wool socks. Below about 10F/-12C I start wearing boots as well. Numb feet I can't feel I don't trust. Maybe I'm just a baby about cold feet.
That...I felt a huge difference between going barefoot in cold and wearing shoes. Xero shoes Denver are my friends, it's light, barefoot, and warm.
It gets pretty cold in the midwest - if I know I'm going to be using a particular bell for training, I'll try to bring it inside (from the poorly insulated garage where I train) for at least a few hours so my hands aren't going to freeze to the bell.

I have a tiny space heater for the garage too, so I can turn that on and set the bell in front of that for an hour or two before a workout to make everything a little less uncomfortable.
That...I felt a huge difference between going barefoot in cold and wearing shoes. Xero shoes Denver are my friends, it's light, barefoot, and warm.
Those look really nice! I have an older style of Xero boot I don't think they make anymore, but it doesn't look half as sharp as those.
I think bringing the bells inside a few hours before your workout is probably the best option anyway imho.

Honestly, my tiny space heater does very little to the actual temperature of my garage. I haven't measured the temperature difference, but if the cars have snow on them before I turn on the space heater, they will still have snow on them an hour later.
I have always done my kettlebell practice outside on an open carport year round. I live in Tennessee so we do have weeks here and there of below freezing temps.
I must be getting old because this year I took the two kettlebells that I was using for Strong down to my shop for the main workouts. Shop isn’t heated but it’s out of the wind. I still did warmups on the open carport.
As for the bells being too cold; sometimes during warmup I will use a pair this cotton jersey gloves. By the time I am ready the bells are warmed up some and don’t bother me at all.
I use chalk year round. In the winter time they are too slick.
I only have opposite problem, humidity and high temps causing slippery bell handles. Winter here barely gets under 10c outside I would honestly curl up in a ball and cry if the inside temp got that cold haha.
I have heated a bell by putting it in a bucket of warm water for a few minutes. It worked really well. Just toweled it off before I started using it and it stayed a comfortable temperature for a good swing session. Maybe I was being soft, but I figure that unless your training goal is to improve your ability to hold onto freezing metal, why make things unpleasant for yourself.
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