How to Lose Weight by Power Walking on a Treadmill or Road
People often wonder, “Is walking good for weight loss?” The answer is that power walking to lose weight can be very effective, but several factors influence just how effective it can be
Power walking, also called speed walking or fitness walking, is basically just walking at a fast pace, typically 4-5 miles per hour or faster. Sustaining this level of intensity requires real effort and concentration, but it is the key to boosting your metabolism enough to promote significant fat loss.
4 Aspects Of A Successful Weight Loss Plan
There are four elements to a successful walking plan for losing weight, and giving adequate attention to each of them is necessary for weight loss success. They are intensity, speed, distance, and frequency.
When you’re trying to lose weight fast, short and intense workouts are the way to go. Hills, sand, and stairs are all excellent options for an intense walking workout. Hiking is a great choice, too. Hand weights and ankle weights, however, are not recommended for boosting intensity, as using them may cause you to make slight alterations to your walking form and biomechanics, eventually leading to overuse injuries.
If your exercise plan consists of going out every other day for a long, peaceful stroll, then you’re probably not losing a lot of weight. Everything counts, so if that’s all you can do, or if that’s all you want to do, then do it. It helps. But if your goal is to lose weight quickly, then you’re going to have to pick up the pace and make every step count. Keep your elbows bent at about 90 degrees (yeah, it actually does help you go faster). As you increase your speed, your metabolism gets a boost and burns more calories – both during and after your workout – so you lose more weight. This one change could literally double your weight loss results.
If you’re walking at a fast pace and including hills, sand, or stairs in your workouts, then your distances may need to be shorter than those long, leisurely strolls. Four to five miles is the farthest you’ll ever need to go, and most of your walks can be much shorter distances than that. Long, frequent walks invite injuries like plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, so keep it short.
Take a day off after every 2nd or 3rd workout, or any time you feel sick or injured. Walking every single day, especially if you are overweight, can often lead to overuse injuries (as mentioned above).
Power Walking Vs. Running
So, is power walking better than running?
For many people the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"
One of the main benefits of power walking over running is that it is much easier on the joints and connective tissues. Obese exercisers probably shouldn't be running at all, even if they were athletic in the past. All of that extra weight puts an enormous amount of pressure on the knees and feet and can do irreversible damage. Even skinny runners rarely make it through a year without suffering some kind of injury, and knee foot surgeries for frequent runners are quite common.
Power walking eliminates most of this risk by reducing the high-impact nature of the exercise. Technique is actually important for those who walk regularly, but the greatest concern is probably foot support.
Power Walking Shoes
While it's tempting to just throw on any old pair of sneakers when you go exercise, the fact is that power walking injuries can still occur, even though they are far less frequent and severe than running injuries. You need to be sure to increase your workout intensity, duration, and frequency very gradually and take at least 1-2 days off every week.
But the type of shoe you walk in is just as important, especially if you are overweight. A high quality power walking shoe is a wise investment, but there are different shoes for different people.
Do You Need Arch Support?
Arch support is one of the most important features on a walking shoe, but it may not be necessary for all walkers. The staff at specialty stores will be better able to help you find the shoe with the best features and the best fit, compared to the shoe salespersons in large department stores.
Foot Analysis: The Footprint Test
But one easy way to decide if you need a shoe with arch support is to simply wet your feet and go walk barefoot on the sidewalk. If your footprint has resembles a question mark, then that means your arches are holding up well. But if the entire bottom of your foot is mushing into the ground and your footprint resembles a fat exclamation point, then you need arch support.
Sample Power Walking Workout Schedule For Weight Loss
- Monday: Off
- Tuesday: Speed – Walk at a fast pace for three miles along a flat and level route.
- Wednesday: Hills – Drive to a hilly location and walk quickly for two miles.
- Thursday: Stairs – Head to the local high school and walk up and down the bleachers for 20 minutes.
- Friday: Off
- Saturday: Go to a nearby beach and walk along the shore for 1-2 miles. Walking through the snow in the winter could provide a similar workout.
- Sunday: Go for a 5 mile hike in the mountains.
It goes without saying that hydration is important, so bring a water bottle with you (especially when you go out for a hike). Be sure to do a few light stretches after each workout. And when your walking/running shoes wear out, don’t cheap out…replace them! Your feet, knees, and back will thank you. If weather is threatening to shut you down, go to the gym and do your workouts on the treadmill and stair climber.
Intensity is king! You should be breathing hard and sweating throughout most of your workout. If you can whip out your cellphone and carry on a conversation, then you’re not pushing hard enough to burn much fat. Walk faster and include hills, sand, and stairs in your walking workouts. Always be mindful of your workout pace, and watch those pounds drop off week after week.
NOTE: Many people wear quality walking shoes all day long, not just when exercising. Don't find out the hard way that taking good care of your feet should be a priority.