Walking feels too easy to be a great exercise.
Many people miss out on the health benefits because they dismiss it as maybe just “slightly better” than sitting on the couch.
We aren’t meant to sit all day.
Many of us really do need to go out of our way to make sure we get enough movement in.
When it comes to walking, the more the better.
If fat loss along and general health is a goal?
I’m talking 4-6 hours of walking per week.
I’ll discuss benefits in a second, right after a quick music break.
The theme for this post is simply songs I like from the group Tame Impala.
Modern rock with a 60’s psychedelic vibe.
I DO realize that 4-6 hours sounds like a lot of time.
…but with Hulu, Youtube, and Netflix on your phone or tablet, you can be entertained while getting lean and healthy.
Although this post is mainly going to discuss fat loss…
Studies show that walking reduces inflammation and improves health more than if you only perform intense exercise.
Walking & Muscle Fiber Type
Walking is a low-intensity activity that works Type I muscle fibers.
Weight lifting primarily works Type II muscle fibers.
There are two kinds of Type II fibers:
- Type IIA (fast twitch OXIDATIVE): This type of fiber is for medium power and decent endurance.
- Type IIB (fast twitch GLYCOLYTIC): This muscle fiber is stronger, more powerful and larger than the oxidative muscle fibers.
Those after maximum mass, like bodybuilders, focuses on maximizing Type IIB fibers.
This is why they rarely perform HIIT or CrossFit circuits, which focus a lot on Type IIA development.
Here’s the protocol for bodybuilders since the 80’s.
- Heavy resistance training for muscle development.
- Walking 4-6 times per week to lose fat.
This works well if maximum size is your goal.
I prefer to be lean and have muscle endurance, so I do like to mix in HIIT and work the Type IIA fibers too.
Walking Won’t Interfere With Other Activities
You can walk in the morning without worrying about it messing up a workout later in the day.
The same can’t be said for HIIT.
Intense cardio and HIIT type of training CAN interfere a little with muscle power output if you are lifting later in the day.
HIIT workouts can also be draining.
If you push too hard it can even drain energy for leisurely activities later in the day.
Because of this, I recommend scheduling HIIT workouts toward the end of the day NOT the morning.
If you don’t have this option?
Just back off on the intensity of your HIIT workouts and replace some of these workouts with walking if you feel excessively drained on a certain day.
The Best Times to Walk
I think the two best times to walk are:
- Any time before your first meal.
- After your normal workout in the gym.
Walking right when you wake up works well.
Walking is beneficial whether fasted or not.
I believe there is a SLIGHT fat loss edge if you walk in a fasted state.
Some people disagree.
For me, I work from home so I have the option of walking on my treadmill at any point in the day.
My favorite time is after I have worked for three hours.
I like to work from 7:00 am to 10:00 am.
I also usually pour my first coffee at around 9:00 am.
I’ll hop on the treadmill at 10:00 for 30-45 minutes.
I like this better because I get my best work done the first three hours I’m awake.
If you have this option, give it a try.
Walking after you are already in the gym is a no brainer.
I recommend doing after your lift weights.
You can do before, but there is a slight benefit to walking after intense activity.
Intense effort releases fatty acids from fat cells into the bloodstream.
Walking uses this released fat for fuel.
This diagram is from my strategic cardio course.
Don’t get too hung up with walking before or after lifting.
You will burn fat either way…
I just wanted to point out a slight benefit to walking after your resistance training session.
Walking on a Treadmill
I’ve put in a lot of time on a treadmill.
Some people make fun of treadmills and imply that walking or running outside is better.
I like cardio machines for their precision.
With cardio machines…
You can adjust intensity, measure performance improvements, etc.
With walking this isn’t a huge issue.
It’s not like HIIT cardio where you are pushing lactate threshold and VO2 Max.
It’s fine to walk outside.
If you are using a treadmill here’s the level I would recommend.
- Walking speed between 3.0 and 4.5 mph.
- Incline at 2.5% to 10.0%.
The sweet spot I recommend for most people is to walk at 3.5 mph at 5% incline for 30-60 minutes.
If you are just starting out you may need to work up to this point.
I’d consider this an intermediate level of walking.
When should you go higher than a 5% incline?
If you want to work your butt a bit, slow down the speed a little and increase the incline to somewhere between 7.5% and 10.0%.
Focus on the heel of your foot each step you take.
As you plant your heel…
…imagine pulling with your hamstrings and glutes as you walk.
If the angle forces you to mainly walk on your toes, it’s going to hit the calves without working the butt as much.
Walking at 10% doesn’t necessarily hit the butt more than 7.5%.
At some point, depending on how you are built, the stress will shift from your butt to your calves and hip flexors.
Walking like this will mainly just ACTIVATE the glutes.
To really work them, you will need to do more intense activities like sprinting, lunges etc.
If working your butt is a major interest?
Check out this article I wrote: How to Fix Dead Butt Syndrome
How Much Fat Will Walking Burn?
It obviously depends on the time put in and your diet.
If fat loss is a focus I’d recommend a minimum of 4 hours per week.
You could knock out 2.5 hours just by getting up 30 minutes earlier Mon-Fri and spending that time on a treadmill.
The other 1.5 hours could be just 30 minutes after 3 gym sessions each week.
If you can stick to this and your diet is dialed in…
You should begin noticing a difference in a few weeks.
Within 3 months I’d expect you to be roughly 5-7 pounds lighter than if you didn’t walk.
This will vary for everyone.
It’s just my experience with people I’ve worked with in the past.
If you make walking a long-term habit?
You will ABSOLUTELY be leaner and healthier than if you didn’t walk.
Walking is one of those things we know we should do.
It’s easy to find reasons to NOT walk.
It is also pretty easy to fit into your routine after you develop the habit.
As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.
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