As far as workouts go, you can’t get any simpler than walking. All you need are your own two feet. Power Walking can be done just about anywhere. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s doctor-recommended, and hundreds of studies have shown its effectiveness. Power Walking, when done correctly, can even get rid of fat just as effectively as jogging. Plus, Power Walking is easier on your body because you use less force when you walk than when you jog. Power Walking also helps decrease the risk of injury.
Power Walking is different from your average, everyday stroll around the mall. It requires you to develop an athlete’s pace. Power Walking is not difficult to learn, but in order to do it right and be able to burn the most calories, it does require some practice.
Let’s Get Walking:
What will I need before I start?
The Right Shoes – Before you begin Power Walking, you will want to invest in some really good shoes. You will want walking shoes that are not too heavy, are roomy, and have some give. When you bend the shoe, it should give easily at the ball of the foot, and when it is on your foot, make sure there is a thumb’s width of space from the front of the shoe to your big toe. Shoes that are too tight or firm will make it hard for you to walk comfortably for very long. Cross Trainers are what most shoe expert would advise or recommend. It can be a personal preference too! I find a running shoe is best for me as there are times I interval train power walk/and jog!
Comfortable clothes and for me my Ipod is a must! Some fast beat music helps keep the rhythm and my speed in check.
Keeping Up the Pace!
Developing a good pace is the key to burning the most calories. Walking approximately 4.5 miles per hour (mph) will help you burn the optimal number of calories. Fitness scientists have found that walking at this pace will help you burn the same amount of calories as a person who is jogging at the same pace. This is due to the fact that you are expending the same amount of energy to stay in motion. Walking 4.5 mph is difficult, and if you are not used to walking then it will take you a while to be able to reach that pace. When I first started walking I was at a 2.8 now I can easily power walk at 4.9! We all have to start some where! I have gages this timing off the treadmill. Don’t let this discourage you; you will get there with practice!
How can I measure how fast I am going?
Go to a local running track or perhaps a park with a marked path measuring a mile or part of a mile. Walk for a mile while timing yourself, and use the chart below to calculate your pace:
- 20 minutes – 3 mph
- 15 minutes – 4 mph
- 13 minutes – 1 ½ mph
- 12 minutes – 5 mph
Of course the faster you walk, the more calories you will burn, but do not give up if all you can do is a 20-minute mile. If you keep Power Walking, your pace will increase in a few weeks. Practice…practice…PRACTICE!
How Often Should I Walk?
Of course this is up to you, but a good goal would be 4 to 6 Power Walks per week. If you are just starting out, plan to walk for 20-30 minutes at a time. After you’ve gotten comfortable with this then move up to 45-60 minute Power Walks. A good rule to follow is to step up your work out by 10% each week, including your warm-up and cool down. Challenge yourself! Set mini goals for yourself and always try and reach them and strive to do better then and go farther then your personal exspectations.
Tips and Techniques
Walking is walking, right? Wrong, if you want to lose weight easily, you’ll need to change your daily step, into a powerful, muscle-building gait. But for you beginners, I want you to just start MOVING! Movement is so important and the rest will come!
Walking the Walk – When most people try to quicken their gate, they will take longer steps. However, when Power Walking, this is actually counterproductive because it is less efficient and it makes you tired more easily than quick steps that start with your heel, move to the ball of your foot, and then end at the toe. To do this correctly, you will want to think about finishing on your heels, continuing through your instep and then pushing off with your toes. You’ll be amazed at how swift these small steps can be…..many have told me it’s because I have such short legs that this naturally comes easy! Not so, I too have to focus!
Hold your head high – Keeping track of where your feet are going and making sure that you are walking on safe, level ground is very important, but you do not want to constantly stare at your feet. Keep your head held high, lift your chin, and direct your focus about 10 feet in front of you. This will give you enough side-line vision to see the ground while still keeping your head and neck in the right position. Hold your posture and shoulders up. It will help hold your core tight.
Swing your fists – Swinging your arms will help you to burn more calories, walk faster, work the muscles in your upper body, this movement also help prevent your fingers from swelling like they can after walking a while with your hands hanging down. What you’ll want to do instead, is learn to swing your arms properly. To do this start by bending your elbows to form a 90 degree angle, form loose fists with your hands. Then swing your arms forming an semicircle that goes down to your waist, up to your chest and back again, remembering to keep your arms close to your body. Never crossing mid body. This could cause injury and throw your back out alignment.
Keep your abs/core tight – to get a more powerful gait, you’ll want to keep your abs sucked in as you walk. This will help to keep your spine straight and give you good posture as you walk, and it will also help tighten your tummy!
Tighten your butt/Gluets – The muscles in your rear are very important in developing a powerful stride. To make your butt really work for you, keep them tight as you walk. This will also help firm up your fanny, too! You may feel this in your quadriceps as well.
Act like you’re late – To help you really pick up the pace, just go back to those days when you were late for a class in High School. Remember, the rules are no running in the halls, so you have to walk as fast as you can but stop just before a jog. If this doesn’t do it for you, then pretend like you are on the amazing race and can win $1,000,000 if you can just finish your Power Walk before your competition beats you. I have a competitive streak in me ask any of my friends! Shhh… but I think it drives them all secretly nuts…especially my really good friend Jess! I always have to try and one up her! Sometimes I let her win! “Wink”…she wouldn’t agree but we won’t tell her! Find that inner competitor and challenge yourself to try and pass up the lady walking the dog that may have a block or two on you! Go for it! Push your self.
Mix it up a little with intervals – Intervals are for those of us who cannot keep up a quick pace for very long. It means adding quick spurts of hustle to your Power Walk. You can even do this on just a few days a week (skip a day in-between you’re Interval Power Walks) and walk at your normal pace on the other days.
When you feel it’s time to bump it up then challenge yourself to adding hand weights. Or even a Weight Vest! I wouldn’t advise for beginners. Generally speaking you still have the weight and your heart is already kicking in full gear. Sometimes when you are at your goal weight or have hit a Plato it can be enough to trick your mind that you are heavier and your heart will work harder for having the added weight. It’s a good time of year to set your Power walking Goals. Go for it! Power walking is just as difficult as taking a run! You are working many of your muscle groups and you will be sure to feel it.
Remember to always take a few min. before and after your walks to stretch. It is so important to take care of you body and this is no difference then maintaining your vehicle. You wouldn’t drive your car at 65mph, stop and take the key out! You would gradually slow down, come to a slow stop; place your vehicle in park, then take the key out! No difference with our bodies!