NEW PATHWAY: Exercise in the Cold


Fast Talk Labs members,

We are pleased to release our new Pathway focused on exercising in cold weather!

Winter is coming. Just in time for the chill of winter workouts, Library Members can explore age-old myths about exercising in the cold, the physiology of cold-temp exercise, your best strategy for training in the cold, and our practical, expert, gear tips.

From the science of breathing cold air to the art of layering, our Exercise in the Cold Pathway will help you beat the freeze.

This Pathway features Dr. Stephen Cheung, a Canadian and one of the world’s leading environmental physiologists, as well as Dr. Iñigo San Millán, our Canadian CEO and Coach Trevor Connor, and Dr. Andy Pruitt.

The Exercise in Cold Weather Pathway explores:

  • How your body lies to you about the temp outside
  • Why it’s important to stay warm during exercise
  • Why you should overdress for cold weather
  • How cold temps affect your performance
  • How cold air affects your lungs and breathing
  • How to optimize nutrition for differences in metabolism in cold weather
  • Our Canadian-approved list of cold-weather clothing and gear
  • Why skipping leg warmers makes you dumb
  • How to train in cold weather
  • Myths about training in hot and cold temps

One-third of this Pathway is available free to Listener Members. To access the full Pathway and all Fast Talk Labs content, upgrade to Library Membership.

What Is a Pathway?

Fast Talk Labs Pathways™ offer new ways to explore concepts, master skills, and solve training challenges. Pathways are collections of expert sport science articles and videos dive deep into specific endurance topics. We link each story together so members always understand the why and the how.

Think of a Fast Talk Labs Pathway as a MasterClass for endurance sports. Pathways offer a comprehensive understanding of a topic from a variety of expert perspectives. Follow a Pathway and you will know the next path forward in your own training.

Each month, we release new Pathways that address key concepts, training techniques, performance analysis methods, and much more.

What topics would you like us to explore in an upcoming Pathway? Let us know how Fast Talk Labs can help you! Email us at or simply reply to this Forum topic.


I haven’t listened to everything in the Cold Weather pathway, but Coach Connor’s intro video doesn’t match my experience at all. I have tens of thousands of miles of winter riding and racing experience in Iowa and the Midwest. I certainly agree that dressing correctly for winter is critical and takes endless practice and gear to get exactly right. However, the #1 problem I see with new winter riders and racers is dressing too warm, not too cold. They feel nice and warm at the car, then they head out and start working, are soon overheated and soaked in sweat. This is quickly followed by pulling off layers, and exposing soaked layers to the cold and wind. All of which ends up making them colder than they would have been if they started feeling a bit cool and then warmed into their clothes. “Dressing like the Michelin man” means either you’re soaked in sweat, or you ride slow enough to not sweat.

I significantly adjust the gear I wear based on the weather and planned effort. Even then, it’s critical to be able to open and close layers as the workload changes, so a good temperature balance is maintained. I might go through four different hand covering options on a single ride. Just saying dress warm or risk damaging your muscles makes no sense to me.

Agree about riders dressing too warm and not removing layers once they’ve reached operating temperature. Often a wind proof and a base layer is enough even at 0C. Then have a warm layer to throw on when stopped for a mechanical etc.

Best way to not get cold is to avoid overheating and sweating. Dress cold ride warm as the saying goes.

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As a rider living in the Pacific Northwest, I would appreciate adding the “humidity” lens. Up here we have 27 different names for rain. Winter training is typically in temps in the low 40s and raining steadily. While that may not be cold from a temp perspective, balancing staying dry on the inside from overheating vs staying dry on the outside from the rain is an ongoing challenge.

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I’d second this post. As a fellow pnw’r, to read about others winter riding habits and clothing choices feels a bit foreign. It’s really a different mindset. Think Belgium in the rain! Invariably it comes down to staying as comfortable as you can while being wet. Neoprene is usually a good direction for the extremities.

International events are always interesting to observe.

I am Brit and take part in a few cycling events that attract international entrants. As I take part in brevets , the longer ones involve riding through the night as well as day.

You’ll often see someone from India fully wrapped up like the Michelin Man with balaclavas and gloves at night in a Northern European summer. Meanwhile Northern Europeans are riding through the night in shorts and jerseys.

Yesterday I was out with just a base merino top as my windproof jacket made me too hot. It was 7C / 44F and light rain. I was lovely and comfortable dressed like that. Really does depend what you are adapted to. At the other end I struggle at anything above 25C in summer and I rarely see those temps or any extended period. The important bit here is that I removed my jacket once I realised it was making me too hot. Go out with a number of layers and add or remove once you find out what’s working or not for the intensities you are working at.

for the most part I agree with the sentiments but to me it is about layering and when to start to open them up so that the over heating and sweat do not build up. That is an experience thing though. I would rather dress a “bit” warm because I can remove/ open a layer than be cold and not have the gear to stay warm. I still expect that first few minutes to be cool until you start generating heat. The one thing I hate is what to me is an in between temperature, where you easily over heat on a climb but freeze on the down hill. For me that is in the range 5- 10 deg C. Colder or warmer no problem.

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