You may have already heard of power walking, but you may not be quite clear on what it actually is, and how it could help improve your fitness. With our beginners’ guide to power walking you’ll learn about technique, benefits, and how to get involved in a new athletic pastime that will get you into shape before you know it.
What is power walking?
So, what’s the difference between a normal walk through the park and a purposeful power walk? Power walking requires a brisk pace and a certain technique to get the blood pumping, and is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. In fact, power walking is considered just as efficient as jogging but with less impact on your joints – if your power walking technique is spot on you may even burn the same amount of calories as you would on a jog of the same distance.
How fast is a power walk?
A running pace is often classified as starting at 5mph, so a power walk is often seen as sitting just below that speed (somewhere between 4 and 5mph). However, if you’re just starting to try out power walking you may not necessarily hit 4mph to start with. But that doesn’t mean you’re not power walking! Walk at a brisk pace that works for you to start with. You’ll soon find your pace quickens as your training continues.
How do you power walk?
• Don’t forget to warm up. You may not be attempting to sprint at full speed, but it’s still important to start off with a slow warm up. Walk at a slow pace to start for about 10 minutes. This will warm your muscles and reduce any risk of injury.
• Pay close attention to your posture. For a full body workout, make sure you stand tall. Draw your stomach in to work your core, relax your shoulders and keep a neutral spine for an effective power walking posture.
• Take natural strides. Roll from your heel to your toe and propel forward as you lift from your toes. Most people tend to lengthen their stride as they quicken their pace, but this makes your power walking technique less effective.
• Squeeze your glutes. This will put a spring in your step, adding more power to stride and make your muscles work overtime as you move.
• Use your hips. By rotating your hips forward as you move, the leading leg should straighten as your foot flexes and your heel hits the ground. This will increase flexibility in the hips and help you to quicken your pace without straining your lower back.
• Keep your arms active too. Activate your arm muscles and swing them with purpose. Bend each elbow slightly and, with your hands in relaxed fists, swing your arms as you stride. This will help you build upper body strength, and as you continue your power walking regime, you may even want to add some small weights.
How to power walk to lose weight
Once you tap into the technique and the right power walking speed for you, you’ll soon see the benefits of power walking for weight loss. Here are some tips on how to make sure your power walking regime not only helps you lose weight effectively, but sensibly too.
• Add some inclines to your repertoire. If you’ve hit a plateau in your regime, adding some hills to your usual routes will help you to lose more weight.
• Take your usual route off road. If you’re used to power walking flat routes on the pavement, maybe take your usual routine to the park. Add some rougher terrain to your usual distance and you’ll soon be putting your body through its paces.
• Take up interval training. For an intense, short burst of aerobic exercise maintain an intense stride for about 2 minutes. Then recover at a brisk pace for 1 minute. Repeat for up to 15 intervals for an effective, calorie-busting session.
How many calories do you burn power walking?
If you can keep up a pace of 4-5mph you’ll be able to burn about 560 calories an hour. And if your technique is in full swing with weights added? You may even be able to add a little extra to that figure!
How long should I power walk to lose weight?
If you’re aiming to lose weight at a healthy pace and want to increase the amount of exercise you’re doing, aim to introduce 4-6 power walking sessions into your week. As a beginner start with sessions of 20-30 minutes. When you feel like you’re able to, increase this to anywhere between 45-60 minutes (when your schedule allows.) As you increase the time you’ll start to notice changes to your fitness levels and your stamina.
What are the best shoes for power walking?
As with any form of exercise, the right footwear is important. And as you work on your technique you’ll need to invest in a comfortable pair of athletic walking shoes, with a sturdy sole that supports your feet. Look out for walking shoes that will stand up against all weathers, but are also breathable. And if you take on more rugged terrain, try to invest in a pair of walking shoes that give you the necessary ankle support to take on your new power walking regimen with gusto.