Walking, How Underated? Part 2

How to get the most out of your walking workout

The thing about walking is you can’t wander back into the gym, jump onto a treadmill and zone out for the next 60 minutes and expect the weight to see major results.

You have to seriously sit down and work out a plan. Treadmill’s aren’t just for running, you can get an equally good walking workout on a treadmill. It's all about how you adjust the resistance.

Everyone has been in the gym and seen some crazy person walking on a treadmill at maximum incline, if you haven’t, here’s hoping you will be that person when you go back. By adding variables into your walk you can turn a simple walk into an interval training session. 

We burn the most calories by repeatedly raising and lowering the heart rate, as opposed to maintaining a steady state. Therefore, if you were to compare the heart rate of someone walking up a mixture of steep hills and varied walking speeds on the flat to that of someone running at a medium pace on a track; you could see greater results on caloric burn. It is also said that hill walking, as opposed to running on a level gradient, can enable you to burn more fat.

Let’s be clear there are lots of variables to consider: incline, walking style & speed to name a few.

The Incline Feature: I mentioned this earlier, but take advantage of it, walking or running on a treadmill is supposed to simulate how you would walk or run outside. Adjusting the incline on a treadmill has several benefits. The intensity of your workout increases because you now have to match the pace set by the machine. On an incline your body will quickly engage and activate more muscles like your glutes, quadriceps and calves. This burns more calories and depending on your weight and cardiovascular endurance can also burn more fat.

Common mistake: People assume that the machine should be set to a pace that requires you to hold on. When adjusting the incline or speed, the key thing to consider is setting a pace that you can safely walk or run on without hanging on. Hanging on actually takes away from the muscle engagement, over time you can build up to higher speeds, but in the first instance ensure that you can actually walk or run at the level you set it to.

Intervals: Having covered varying your heart rate from high to low, give intervals a try. Where do you start? Well it’s another subjective question as that’s really down to your current level of fitness. There are plenty of fitness templates available online, but for quick reference try the following: 

Walking Fitness Template

Warm-up: Start by walking for 5 minutes at a comfortable speed (no incline)

Phase 1: Increase incline to 3-5 percent for 3 minutes.

Phase 2: Remove incline whilst maintaining speed for 1 minute (Rest)

Repeat for 3-5 rounds. You can adjust as you see fit up or down. To add difficulty, increase the time spent at phase 1 and decrease the time you spend in phase 2 or increase the pace of each phase. Find what works for you and slowly increase your difficulty over time to keep pushing your progress.

Add Weights: This is another way to add intensity to your walking routine. You can add weight to keep your heart rate up. While walking on an incline, you can try a weighted vest which will increase the intensity and your calories burned without requiring a lot of extra effort. 

Music: It’s surprising, but most people are still unaware of the impact a great song can have on the tempo of your workout. There’s a reason the music is so upbeat in a HIIT class and so soothing in a yoga studio. Creating a playlist which has a varied tempo will encourage you to walk faster with the uptempo songs and conversely more slowly with downtempo songs. This is potentially a quick way to make your morning walk an interval workout.

I hope you enjoyed this two part post and can find time to implement some of these changes into your routine.

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