Transform Your Walk into a Fat-Burning Workout – Sports Medicine Weekly | Dr. Brian J. Cole
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Published on: 18-May-2021

Walking is the most popular form of physical activity for a good reason. It’s easy to do, requires no special equipment, and it is something that comes naturally to most of us. And that’s great news since research has found by simply walking regularly, you can reduce your risk of disease and increase life expectancy. 

But the benefits of walking don’t stop there. You can transform your walking workout into one that tones muscle and burns fat with a few simple adjustments. Try heading to a local trail or park to try these out.

Walking for fat loss

Although many people walk to improve fitness, others can walk with a goal of improving body composition by reducing excess body fat and increasing muscle mass. When combined with a healthful diet, walking can have a direct impact on body composition, especially when it comes to stubborn belly fat. 

One study that compared two groups of women found that those who combined dietary changes with walking one to two miles daily were able to shrink belly fat cells by as much as 18 percent over a four-month period whereas the women who make dietary changes without walking saw no change in their waistline.

The reason behind this may have to do with how the body responds to consistent walking. “We burn fat during a walk, but what’s even better is that walking consistently primes our bodies to be better at using fat for fuel, meaning that we become better fat burners even at rest,” explains Lindsay Allen, MS, RDN, owner of Back in Balance Nutrition & Fitness. But as Allen points out “you can’t tone or build muscle by walking alone.” To do that, you need to take your walking routine to the next level.

Take your walking workout to the next level

Going for a brisk walk at a consistent pace certainly offers health benefits. But if you really want to maximize fat loss and tone muscles, you’ll want to step up your walking game. And to do that, you’ll want to add high intensity interval training (HIIIT) into your walking workout. “Adding in a HIIT workout to your walking routine is a wonderful way to increase metabolic burn while incorporating strength training into your workout,” explains nutrition and fitness expert Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CPT, and author of Air Fryer Cookbook For Dummies.

HIIT involves pairing short bouts of high intensity exercise with low intensity ‘rest’ periods to maximize your fitness results. “Incorporating short intervals such as HIIT and bodyweight exercises will not only speed fat loss, but also help you release growth hormone which allows us to build muscle, and stimulates fat burning,” explains Allen.

How to incorporate HIIT into your walking workout

To create an effective HIIT walking workout, you don’t need special equipment or a gym membership. You can implement an effective routine that strengthens and tones muscles while burning fat by simply using your own body weight. Whether you use the outside terrain to your benefit, such as walking briskly uphill in set intervals, or incorporate a variety of body weight workouts throughout your walk, you can achieve effective results.

“Depending on the individual’s level of fitness, I like to incorporate three to four blocks of exercises over the course of a 60 minute walking workout,” shares Shaw, whose formula for a successful HIIT workout includes a mix of bodyweight exercises such as burpees, pushups, lunges, and squats. “These are all wonderful body weight only exercises that can easily increase the intensity of a walk by boosting your heart rate,” she adds.

What does this formula look like when put into practice? Shaw recommends starting by incorporating these bodyweight exercises in three blocks of two to three exercises at eight to ten repetitions each. For example, her recommended walking HIIT workout would look like this:

Interval #1:

20 minutes of walking at a brisk pace

Stop and complete two of the following exercises: 8 burpees, 8 pushups, 8 lunges, or 8 squats

Interval #2:

20 minutes of walking at a brisk pace

Stop and complete two of the following exercises: 8 burpees, 8 pushups, 8 lunges, or 8 squats

Interval #3:

20 minutes of walking at a brisk pace

Stop and complete two of the following exercises: 8 burpees, 8 pushups, 8 lunges, or 8 squats

As your fitness level improves, Shaw recommends incorporating more reps and exercises until you work your way up to all 4 exercises every 20 minutes.

By incorporating HIIT along with body weight exercises, you can transform your standard walk into a workout that helps to tone your muscles while burning fat. But as with any exercise, always talk to your physician before starting or changing an exercise routine to make sure it is safe for you.

The post Transform Your Walk into a Fat-Burning Workout appeared first on Sports Medicine Weekly .