Axe chopping wood
Photo credit: Phil Roeder

5 Winter Activities That Are Better Than CrossFit

You know what’s cheaper than a CrossFit gym? Going outside. And these five fun winter activities can help you reach those same fitness goals.

Let’s be frank: You’re going to lose that resolution motivation. It happens to everybody.

But don’t lose hope. Dragging yourself to the gym every day isn’t the only path to building that summer bod. What if we told you that you can get fit, have fun doing it, and pay next to nothing?

As long as you have some snow, maybe an axe (buy one here), or a good ol’ shovel, you can rival any CrossFit workout. Here are five fun, common things to do in winter that build muscle and burn calories.

Winter Workouts to Build Muscle, Get Fit

1. Tire Flip vs. Rolling a Snowball

Giant snowball roll and tire flip
Giant snowball photo credit: Kamyar Adl; tire flip photo credit: Jason Edward Scott Bain

Flipping a tractor tire that weighs a quarter- to a half-ton is impressive. But rolling a snowball is way more fun (and also can be difficult). On average, one cubic foot of compressed snow weighs 20 pounds. Roll it to a 2 × 2 × 2 block (yeah, we know they’re more roundish), and it’s already eight times as heavy — 160 lbs.

Keep rolling, and you’ll quickly have a snowball that can’t be pushed. Factor in the footwork as you push and the variable increasing load, and you have the ultimate cardio/strength workout. Plus, who even has a tractor tire?

2. Kettlebell vs. Chopping Wood


Kettlebells are great because they’re so dynamic. One popular exercise, the “wood chop,” strengthens everything from the legs to the shoulders. Actually chopping wood, however, has all the kettlebell’s benefits and has been shown to make you more of a man.

In a study, chopping wood generated 17% more testosterone in men than competitive sports, and the utility and necessity of the work boosted the duration of men’s peak physical output. Lumbersexuals unite!

3. Virtual Shoveling vs. Real Shoveling

Kid shoveling snow
Photo credit: oddharmonic

Another popular compound CrossFit workout is virtual shoveling. Fortunately, someone devised an ingenious, real-world application for virtual shoveling — it’s called shoveling.

One hour of shoveling your (and a neighbor’s) driveway burns nearly 600 calories and provides all the strength-building benefits of its ridiculous-looking virtual counterpart.

No snow? No problem. Dirt has also proven to be 100% shovel-able, and this workout may lead to a beautifully landscaped yard.

4. Sumo Deadlift High Pull vs. Building a Snowman

Giant snowman
Photo credit: Ctd 2005

The sumo move involves lifting weight off the ground and hoisting it up to chin level. It utilizes virtually all of the same movements as building a snowman but sadly will not result in a snowman.

If you add in the work of rolling the snowballs (see above), you have a workout that involves moving and lifting upwards of 400 pounds (or if you want to set the record, over 9,000,000 pounds).

5. Running Stairs vs. Sledding


Running stairs is a tried-and-true mega-cardio workout. Unfortunately, the payoff is walking down stairs, which, while better than walking up them, is nowhere near as awesome as sledding down a snow-covered hill.

Running up a snow-covered hill in boots requires more leg strength and has less impact on your knees than pounding up concrete stairs, burning upwards of 500 calories per hour.

There you have it. And while we certainly don’t advocate giving up your training routine, we do advocate getting outside and enjoying the wintry weather. Might as well get a workout in while you’re at it.

Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the Editor In Chief of GearJunkie.

Adam has been covering daily news and writing about cycling, camping, hiking, and gear of all kinds for 15+ years. Prior to that, Adam lived in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, at which time he realized he’d never have a “normal job.” His pastimes — farming, bike racing, and fitness — provided a gateway to all manner of physical challenges and recreation outdoors.

Based in Kansas City, MO, Adam tests as much gear as he can get his hands, feet (and dog) into each and every day. As editor in chief, he works to maintain GearJunkie’s voice, style, and commitment to accurate and expert reporting across every category.