There are many different forms of exercise you can undertake on your journey to improve your health, well-being, and physique. Some have an easier learning curve than others.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise that is also one of the most accessible for individuals of all walks of life from novices to top-level athletes.
No matter if you’re just getting started or if you’re regularly hitting 10,000+ steps per day, here are 6 ways to maximize your walking workouts!
Top 6 Ways to Maximize Walking Workouts
#1 Start Slow and Build
Just like with any other workout, it’s important that you allow your body to warm up and acclimate to the impending physical activity.
Thankfully, walking is low intensity, so it doesn’t require any sort of complex, time-consuming warm up process. All you really need to do is lace up your shoes and hit the road. After a few minutes of easy walking, feel free to start going uphill, picking up the pace, etc.
#2 Maintain Good Posture
Good posture is essential to proper movement mechanics as well as avoiding overstressing other structures on the body (low back, knees, hips, ankles) that aren’t meant to bear excessive amounts of stress for prolonged periods of time.
In regards to walking, maintaining good posture entails keeping your head centered over your shoulders (not craning your neck forward or arching it back). Additionally, make sure your shoulders are down and back, not hunched forward like Quasimodo. Lastly, keep your abs engaged and glutes active with each step you take.
While this might seem a bit excessive, many individuals start to lose proper posture while they walk, especially if they’re walking for a long period of time. This is usually on account of not having proper posture during the rest of the day.
#3 Use Your Arms
Many people when they walk simply move their legs, which is all fine and good. But, they’re missing out on the added benefits (and calorie burning) of using their upper body.
Specifically, when walking, move your arms with determination to add some power, speed, and intensity to your walks -- all of which helps burn more calories during your walks!
Now, you don’t need to flail and look all spastic like a wacky, waving, inflatable arm flailing tube man you’d see in front of a car dealership, but you should move your arms with intention like you’re trying to get somewhere important.
#4 Improve Your Stride
To get the most out of your walking workouts (while also reducing the possibility for overuse injuries or strain), it’s imperative to use proper walking technique.
The most efficient way to walk is heel to toe.
Be cognizant not to take too wide or too narrow of a step. Additionally, keep in mind that walking very fast and/or up an incline will increase the demands on your calves and shin muscles, so expect to be sore in places you didn’t even know you had if you’re new to walking workouts.
#5 Don’t Neglect Your Feet
If you’re planning to make walking a permanent addition to your daily/weekly exercise regimen, then you’ll want to make sure to incorporate some type of soft tissue work (self-myofascial release) and active recovery for your hip flexors, calves, shin muscles, and feet.
One of the best ways to release tension in your feet is to use a lacrosse ball. By stepping on the ball and rolling your foot over it, it helps massage the arches, balls, and heels of your feet to release tension accumulated from increased walking workouts as well as the tension from everyday use.
#6 Try Intervals
Walking on flat ground is perfectly well and good for your walking workouts, but if you’re looking to shake things up and add some challenge and intensity to your workouts, try doing bursts of fast walking as well as walking uphill.
Both of these increase the demands of your muscles, which helps increase calorie burning, ultimately helping you get results!
One thing to keep in mind when going uphill is to push through your heel to activate the hamstrings and glutes to power you up the incline.
Lastly, when walking uphill, make sure to not lean backwards (thus hyperextending your low back). This puts undue strain on muscles and structures that weren’t built for that. Instead, when you’re walking uphill (or on an incline treadmill), adopt an ever-so-slight forward lean, while still keeping your shoulders down and back and using your arms to help power up the incline.
Walking is a great way to burn calories, support cardiovascular health, and improve recovery without impairing your ability to train hard during your resistance training workouts (the same of which can’t be said for other types of cardio.
While walking workouts may not be intense enough to demand a scoop of pre workout, it’s still imperative to stay properly hydrated, especially if you’ll be doing your walking workouts outdoors. As such, it can be helpful to have a serving of amino acids + electrolytes, such as 1UP Pure Rebuild, before, during, or after your walking workout to replenish depleted electrolytes lost through sweating, stave off muscle cramps, and restore hydration.