If you enjoy walking as part of your fitness routine, then try a power walk to challenge yourself. You can add in some of my favorite toning exercises while you power walk and get a perfect cardio-boosting workout that will help you to burn extra calories, while toning up your legs, arms and abs.
A power walk is when you are walking very fast—to the point where you are almost jogging—but instead maintain a fast walking pace.
You might wonder why you should maintain a power walk speed instead of just breaking into a light jog. One reason is because this is a walking workout and not a jogging workout! On a more serious note, people who are new to fitness might not be ready to start jogging right away, which makes power walking a good choice for a cardio workout. I believe in taking exercise one step at a time, and walking is simply one step before jogging.
If you’re already an avid exerciser or runner, adding a power walk to your current routine may be a great way to ensure that you are performing a good variety of exercise styles. Power walking would also be a great choice as a rest day routine.
For those that are concerned about doing high-impact moves because of previous injuries, recent pregnancy or excess body fat, power walking is a great alternative to running or jogging.
To power walk effectively, you need to be in the right position:
– Keep arms bent at the elbow at a 90 degree angle. This angle should not change as you drive your arms back and forth at a speed that matches your stride.
– Your stride shouldn’t be too long and all of your body movements should be going forward. Don’t swing your hips like you’re on a catwalk! Instead, be more like a powerful sprinter with a straight back and tight abdominal muscles.
– Before your power walk challenge, stretch out and prepare your body for exercise.
Once you’re stretched out and ready to go, try these variations for a low-impact walking routine. Warm up with a few light power walking variations for 10 minutes. Repeat the variations a second time and then really hit your power walking stride for 10 more minutes. Finish up with a five minute stroll or some stretches to cool down.
1. Arm swings with long strides
Begin your power walk at a slow pace with a long, over-reaching stride, swinging your arms in a rhythmic motion back and forth. As your right heel strikes the ground, your left arm should be straight up overhead, and same with the other side.
Why it works: Swinging your arms up high while you power walk will elevate your heart rate and improve shoulder flexibility. Do this for 60 seconds.
2. Lunge walk
Place your hands on your hips and lunge forward with your right foot. Keep a straight back and lower your left knee toward the floor, hold for a second. Then step forward with your left foot and repeat.
Why it works: The lunge stride will target your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Do this for 60 seconds.
3. Side leg lift walk with chest opener stretch
Place both hands in front of your chest, palms facing each other. Step forward with your right leg and lift your left leg out to your left side about four inches off the floor. As your leg goes out to the side, open up your arms wide and, as you lower your leg, bring your arms back to the starting position. Repeat the same movement on the opposite side with continued arm movement. Do this for 60 seconds on each side.
Why it works: This exercise challenges your balance and, therefore, works your core muscles. Lifting your leg out to the side targets your hips and glutes.
If you want to challenge yourself further with a high-impact power walk, try adding these two extra calorie burning moves on your next power walk:
1. High knee skips
Step forward with your right foot, transfer your body weight from your heel to the ball of your foot. As you get to the ball of your foot, push your body weight upward. This will help drive your left knee up, like a one legged vertical hop. Step with your left and repeat. Your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle at the elbow, and pump opposite arm to opposite knee drive.
Why it works: This will strengthen your ankles and work on your core muscles, because it requires an element of balance. Driving your arms will work your shoulders and your upper back.
2. Fast-feet sprinter walk
Come up onto the balls of your feet and walk in a marching action, moving your legs as fast as you can and driving your arms at the same speed. Don’t let your heels touch the ground.
Why it works: This fast move will increase your heart rate while working on strengthening your calf muscles.
You can experiment with these moves and create a power walk routine that’s best suited for your fitness goals. A 30 minute power walk a few times a week will have you in better shape in no time!