If you’re looking for a low-impact yet highly effective way to kickstart your fitness routine, power walking might be the perfect gateway. Power walking isn’t just a casual stroll; it’s a purposeful, brisk walk that engages various muscle groups, boosts cardiovascular health, and aids in weight management.
The beauty of power walking lies in its accessibility – it requires no special equipment, can be done almost anywhere, and is gentle on the joints, making it an ideal choice for individuals of all fitness levels.
Whether you want to power walk at home on the treadmill or head out to roads or trails, it’s absolutely up to you. They are all equally valuable in improving your health and fitness!
How to Start A Power Walking Program
Want to get into power walking? Great! It can be part of your current training immediately. Don’t overthink it, just get out there and start moving.
Even when I’m in marathon training, I include walks during training. They help all runners and all athletes to improve our overall health and fitness.
Here are some quick steps to get you started.
Warming up properly is essential for all forms of exercise, including power walking.
I recommend dynamic stretches that target your calves, legs, and feet. Consider hip circles or ankle circles when performing stretches before a power walking session.
Begin walking slowly to continue giving muscles and tendons time to loosen up. After 7-10 minutes easy walking, you can start to really push the pace.
#2 Start Slow
When you first start power walking, start by walking slowly and increase your pace over the coming days and weeks. Starting too fast, too soon can lead to injuries and soreness.
A good way to see if you’re walking at the right pace is by doing the talk test. Walk with a friend and try to carry on a conversation. If you can speak at least a few sentences at a time, you’re walking at a good pace.
If you could just talk non-stop, you might need to push it more!
- Start by doing a normal walk and just see what your pace is when you aren’t thinking about it
- On the next walk, put a little more thought in to are you swinging your arms, can you move your legs faster
- Over time try to build up to that 15 min per mile walking pace
#3 Track Your Distance
As you start getting into power walking, consider getting a step counter or an affordable fitness watch to track your distance. It’ll allow you to know how far you’ve power walked in a given time and help you understand your pace.
Remember, you’re power walking and not jogging!
An average power walking pace is around a 15-minute to 13-minute mile, which equates to about 3 to 5.5 miles per hour on the treadmill.
#4 Increase Mileage Slowly
Just like walking too fast can lead to injuries, so can walking too much. This is where the ten percent rule comes in!
Increase your mileage week by week, on average, by ten percent compared to the previous week. This is a general estimate to ensure you don’t increase your mileage too fast.
If you’re new to power walking:
- start by power walking for 15 to 20 minutes on your first walk
- gradually increase your time to 20 to 25 minutes
- You can then increase it to 30 minutes or more after a couple of weeks
- Start with just two days a week and you can build to 7 days of power walking!
#5 Embrace Hills
Whether your goal is to start running or you just want to improve your fitness, hills are a key piece of this process. They give you a bigger bang for the time spent training by burning more calories and increasing the strength in your legs.
That new strength will allow you to walk faster on the flats and soon power up those hills.
#6 Try Intervals
While walking through a park or along the shore of a lake, it’s not uncommon for your pace to unintentionally slow down. Maintain a focus on speed by incorporating intervals into your routine.
Try pushing your speed for 30 seconds if you’re going to be outside for 30 minutes. Just watch out that you don’t start jogging instead of power walking. Maintain your form to keep your impact low.
You can gradually increase the length of each interval by 10 to 20 seconds until they are a few minutes long. Do these after every other workout to help you recover.
#7 Finish Off with a Stretch
Don’t forget to take out time at the end of your power walking session for some light static stretching.
Make sure to stretch your calves, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hips as this will help prevent soreness and keep you free from common walking injuries.
How Fast Should I Be Power Walking?
Finding the proper power walking speed will be heavily influenced by your fitness level as well as how long you’ve been doing it. Power walking is defined as walking at a speed that is above the usual range for walking.
This is typically 3 to 5.5 miles per hour, or 13 to 15 minutes to walk a mile.
Begin walking at 3 miles per hour and progressively increase your speed depending on how you feel. If 3 miles per hour seems too easy, increase it to 4 miles per hour.
When you’re ready to power walk at a higher intensity, aim for 5 miles per hour, or approximately a 12-minute mile. Keep in mind that longer strides aren’t the aim here. Keep them short, but walk faster. You will have a far more effective session as a result. (we call this cadence in running)
Should I Power Walk or Walk Regularly?
Do both, frequently. If you just have a small amount of time to exercise, go for a power walk. This style of walking will allow you to burn more calories and tone your muscles in a shorter amount of time.
Meanwhile going for a daily walk is nice to simply de-stress and move the body. Walking at a moderate speed helps the heart as well. You’ll also be able to clear your mind and refocus yourself.
Overtime, you’ll notice your standard walking pace has increased and much like my husband, folks will note that you only power walk.
Sample Power Walking Workout to Try
If you’re just getting started with power walking and want a little taste of it without committing entirely to it, here’s a fun sample workout for you!
Try alternating between regular walking and power walking if you love your relaxed stroll around the neighborhood, but want to crank things up a notch.
This means that you would walk normally most of the time, but for one block or one minute, you’ll power walk.
Pump your arms and go faster. You’ll be able to walk quicker and cover more ground. Slow down after that one minute or one block and resume regular walking. You may incorporate power-walking intervals as often as you wish.
In the long run, this method will help you build up to walking faster over time.
Top 13 Power Walking Tips
Here are some power walking tips that will make sure you get all the benefits of this incredible workout the right way:
#1 Maintain Good Walking Form
Walking makes use of more than simply the legs. To avoid hunching forward, keep your shoulders back and your chest high.
Maintain proper posture by pulling your abs in as you walk. Keep your arms free so you can swing them near to your side.
#2 Wear the Right Shoes
As you begin a new power walking routine, proper footwear will be your best friend.
Don’t simply grab any old pair of running sneakers from the shelf or the back of your closet. Invest in a good pair that’s right for you.
You want something that is both comfortable and cushioned, as well as supportive. As you walk, your foot may roll inward or outward, therefore the shoe’s support should accommodate that.
Here are the best Hoka Walking Shoes >>
#3 Be Visible
Walk on a route or sidewalk that is away from traffic. If you need to walk on the road, always walk TOWARDS cars. That is actually the law and the safest thing for you.
Use reflective gear, or light, if you’re strolling during sunset or in the dark.
#4 Grab a Friend
Want to stay consistent with your new routine? Don’t got it alone. Study after study shows that some accountability can go a long ways.
Walk and Talks are what I call this time with friends. Yup, even as a running coach this is how I plan get togethers. I generally prefer it to running with my friends because we’re less out of breath, ha!
#5 Take it Easy
When you first start power walking, don’t push yourself too hard. Shin splints are a frequent power walking injury in which the tendons, muscles, and bone tissue become irritated.
So incrementally increase your mileage targets to prevent your muscles from getting too tired. If you push yourself too far or for too long, you’ll need more time to recover later.
#6 Strength Train
Remember that walking is just one piece of the fitness and health puzzle. You MUST strength train.
Especially for women over 50, fitness requires strength training because we simply lose muscle mass so easily. And less muscle mass means an increased chance of injury, slower metabolism and changing body shape.
If you’re totally new to strength training, checkout our awesome 8 week bodyweight course. It’s going to give you videos for good form and more importantly a plan you can follow!!
#7 Use Trekking Poles
If you want to up the calorie burn even more, grab some poles! It’s going to engage more muscles, while also helping you to feel more stable and often walk even faster.
It might also get you excited to take your walks on to the trails for a change of scenery and to change up the workout.
In fact, this is actually called Nordic Walking! It’s a massively growing trend because it increases your total calorie burn.
#8 Vary the Terrain
Don’t be afraid to jump on the trails, even if you go a bit slower. The intensity from the varied ground and hills is still increasing your fitness.
Likewise, don’t be afraid to do your workout on the treadmill. In fact, one of my favorite treadmill workouts uses power walking and incline!
#9 Avoid When Sick
Power walking can actually help with symptoms above the neck, like a runny nose or sneezing. If your symptoms are more serious and are below the neck, like body aches or swollen glands, you should skip your walk and try again another day.
#10 Eat Healthy Foods
If you’re power walking to stay healthy and maybe even lose weight, then one important thing to do is to eat healthy. When power walking for exercise, your body will naturally crave the nutrients it requires.
By power walking about three times per week, you will begin to pick foods that provide your body with the best fuel for power walking. You’ll start to prefer healthy options like fruit and whole grain sandwiches naturally over greasy fast food.
And if you’re still struggling with eating healthy, this is a good time to make that choice and reap the full benefits of power walking.
#11 Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important during any physical activity, especially power walking. When you exercise, your body loses water through sweat, which can lead to dehydration if you don’t replenish your fluids.
Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your walk, to help regulate your body temperature and prevent dehydration.
If you’re planning a longer power walking session, consider bringing a water bottle with you to stay hydrated on the go.
#12 Walk in Safe and Well-lit Areas
When power walking, it’s important to walk in safe, well-lit areas that are free from hazards or obstacles. Walk on sidewalks whenever possible, and cross at designated crosswalks or intersections.
If you’re walking in an area without sidewalks, walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming cars. Wear reflective clothing or accessories if walking at night, to help improve visibility. It’s also a good idea to carry a whistle or other alert device with you, in case of emergency.
#13 Listen to Your Body and Avoid Overexertion
When starting a power walking routine, it’s important to listen to your body and avoid overexertion. Start slowly and gradually build up your intensity and duration.
If you experience pain, discomfort, or other unusual symptoms, stop walking and seek medical advice if necessary.
It’s also important to vary your power walking routine to prevent boredom and reduce your risk of injury.
Consider walking on different terrains, incorporating hills or stairs, or adding in strength-training exercises to keep your workout challenging and engaging.
Looking for more training tips?
- How Many Steps in A Mile Running Vs Walking
- Best Running Belts – great to carry hydration on your walks
- Common Causes of Knee Pain After Running
- How to Measure How Far I’ve Walked
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