During the past week, I have been speed walking hills, instead of the usual morning jog. The first difference I noticed was that while I did not sweat nearly as much as running, my heart rate soars out of control! To give you an idea of the difference, my jogs take my heart rate to a max of 130, whereas the walks were measuring in between 150 and 160!
It is amazing how easy it is to believe you are well conditioned in all areas of fitness, and then do something your body is not quite used to, just to see where your training weaknesses lie. I walk all of the time, but never up a hill, at over 4 miles/per/hour for 30 minutes straight!
Not to mention how tired it made me. You know that feeling after a day long hike? That is how I felt after my first speed walking workout. Considering I walked for less time than my usual runs (and they do not tire me at all!) I think these walks should be a part of my regular fitness rotation.
Here are some speed walking tips:
1. Concentrate movement from the core.
Keep your back straight, your abs tight and imagine your legs and arm are being propelled by your midsection. This means that every movement is very intentional. Your body is moving like a machine. When the left leg is out the right arm is out and vice versa. It is important to keep this form for the most effective workout possible, core strengthening, and injury prevention.
2. Swing your arms.
Speed walkers swing their arms for extra cardiovascular conditioning, and balance. Using your arms allows more blood to be pumped into the heart. Using light 1 or 2 lbs is debatable. Some people believe it will give you a repetitive strain injury. For the most part, I believe this too. Using weights should be strictly for strength training, not cardio. However, using very light 1lb weights when speed walking does help you to keep your arms swinging, and to stay sweating. There is no doubt about that. Using them sparingly, every few workouts will do no harm.
3. Use an incline.
Walking up hills, or on an incline is more challenging, and helps to cushion impact. Walking on flat terrain, or even worse, downhill is extremely hard on the joints. If you are walking downhill, swivel your hips and bend your knees. This will help to strengthen the lower back and prevent shin splints.
Speed walking is fantastic for people who cannot run due to injuries, obesity or weak leg muscles. It is also a great way to cross train, to switch up your running routine periodically for better overall results.
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