Walking and Weight Loss
Walking and weight loss go together like too much exercise and an overuse injury. It isnít a good combination. First of all, you wonít lose a lot of weight just by walking (if you lose ANY at all). Second, you have a better chance of getting sore knees, ankles, and feet, or even a sore back, rather than losing weight.
Walking does not burn a lot of calories, but most doctors and trainers suggest walking and weight loss will follow. But if you are overweight, you shouldnít be doing any activity for long durations without first strengthening your muscles and building up your joints.
So you must be careful! While walking sounds easy, it has a dark side and can put you in the doctorís office. Instead of doing walking and weight loss, you should be starting your weight loss program with bodyweight resistance training supersets instead.
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Iíve had many clients who came to me looking to lose weight after being told by their doctors to take up walking. But before I let them start, I made them strong. For example, my client Ron would show up at 6am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
We would start with some general medicine ball exercises for a warm-up and then he would lie down on a mat to strengthen his legs and abs. Itís amazing what you can do lying down. Trust me, doing these simple exercises will give most folks, even advanced fitness enthusiasts, a good workout.
The first exercise to do is the lying hip extension. You can do it with one leg or two legs. This strengthens your butt (your glutes) and your hamstrings. Immediately after that exercise, flip over and do kneeling pushups (or regular pushups). Then flip back over and do stability ball leg curls (two legs for beginners, one leg for advanced).
Ron would continue the circuit by flipping over again and doing a plank hold for 30-60 seconds. Then he would roll to his side and do a side plank for 15-30 seconds for each side. Then onto his knees where he would slowly do an exercise called the bird dog to help strengthen tiny muscles in his low back.
That completed one circuit, and weíd repeat that 2-3 more times. You can make it as hard (using the harder exercises, more reps, and less rest) or as easy (easier exercises, fewer reps, more rest) as you need.
After the circuit, Ron would get back up and weíd do bodyweight rows for his upper back or resistance band rowing, and then, and only then, would we consider doing any walking for weight loss. You can find pictures and descriptions of those exercises in the Turbulence Training workouts.
But we wouldnít do regular slow walking. Instead, we did interval walking. We might go outside and walk hills or just walk at a fast pace for a minute and then an easy pace for a minute. Thatís interval training, and it can be made harder or easier depending on your fitness.
Research shows interval training works better for burning fat, so we had walking and weight loss, but without the long walks. Cutting down on walking time helped reduce the risk of injury, as did the strengthening we did with the bodyweight exercises.
Finally, if you use walking for weight loss, make sure you have good shoes because these can also help prevent injury. If possible, walk on softer surfaces such as grass or trails rather than concrete and pavement. If you use a treadmill for walking and weight loss, try not to use too much of an incline because that can lead to tight calves.
So if you are going to use walking for weight loss, do it interval training style after you have strengthened your muscles with bodyweight exercises. Iíve included Ronís workouts in the Turbulence Training for fat loss program in the beginner section.
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