Ways to Get More from Walking with Weights

Walking is a great bodyweight movement that can help anyone, from beginner to advanced, lose weight. If the extra weight is added correctly, it can bring even more benefits. The greater the resistance, the greater the muscle strength needed, so the extra weight can be correlated with increased strength, explains Megan Beck, a personal trainer based in Boston. Training your body with resistance will also teach you to work harder to maintain speed, which means that if you don’t have that extra weight, you may find that you move faster, Beck adds.

Of course, adding weight to your walk is not as simple as attaching weights to your ankles or taking dumbbells. When walking with weight, maintaining a correct posture is of the utmost importance. “Your body gets stronger in the posture you use while increasing the resistance,” says Beck. “Form is the most important factor in everything related to fitness, especially when it comes to external resistance.”

Here are four ways to add weight to your walks safely and effectively:

WEARING A WEIGHTED VEST

“People aren’t built with 10-weight feet or five-weight hands for a reason,” says Holly Perkins, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and author of Lift to Get Lean.”The use of ankle weights – or heavy hand weights – could throw them biomechanically and contribute to imbalances or more serious problems.

Walking with a weighted vest or belt (about 10 weights initially, Perkins suggests), on the other hand, can be very productive, she notes. β€œThe human body is designed to handle the load forces in motion when the central part of the body is heavier.”

A weighted vest or belt can help increase calories burned, strength gains and muscles. “The legs have to move heavier objects, so you will see an increase in leg strength,” says Perkins.

MAINTAIN THE HAND WEIGHT OF A MAXIMUM OF 3 WEIGHTS

If you use hand weights, keep them at 3 weights or less per hand so you can prioritize good walking technique, Perkins says. Keep your core engaged and your elbows bent while your shoulders are retracted to absorb the extra weight throughout the core without swinging from side to side, which can lead to problems in the lower back.

USE HIKING POLES FOR HIKES

“When you’re tired, you tend to fall forward,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Michelle Lovitt, a Beverly Hills-based trainer. “Not only do the canes force you to use your arms, but they also help you maintain your posture, which will probably result in a superior workout.”

If you adopt a firm posture and use your arms, you can force more muscle groups, which can lead to higher calorie expenditure and a lower peril of potential musculoskeletal pain, Lovitt notes. She particularly prefers hiking poles during hikes, when fatigue sets in.

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