Speed walking is very fast-paced walking (often 4 mph or faster) for a higher calorie burn while still maintaining walking form. Speed walking is a great alternative to running that is lower impact on your body but still highly effective for losing weight. All it takes to turn your basic leisurely walking into a fat-torching fitness walking routine is a few simple tweaks and adding speed walking to the mix. As you walk faster, form becomes even more important and you’ll need to find the right walking locations to get the most out of speed walking.
We’ll cover what speed walking is, how to speed walk properly and the surprising calorie-burning and fitness benefits of this fun and intense walking workout.
What is Speed Walking
Speed walking is a general term for very fast-paced walking – often at 4 mph or more (6.4 km/h). This is close to the speed of jogging or running, but speed walkers maintain a walking gait. Walking is differentiated from running in that when walking, one foot is always on the ground at all times.
Within the category of speed walking, there are multiple fast walking techniques. These include power walking and Olympic race walking. Race walking, for instance, uses a fairly unnatural technique but is the fastest walking you can possibly do. More casual speed walkers may simply want to burn more calories and walk faster to help lose weight. However, whatever method you prefer, the bottom line is walking fast can take your walking routine to a whole new level and help get you in the best shape of your life.
The Benefits of Speed Walking
You’ve probably thought about building up your step count, but you may not have considered increasing your walking speed. As a fitness walker, once you realize the surprising benefits that speed walking provides you may be interested in using it during your walks. Here are some benefits of speed walking:
- Fitness Boost/ Better Health: Speed walking is ideal at getting your heart rate up to a moderate (or higher) intensity level. This can ensure you get your recommended daily activity and get the most out of your walks.
- Burn More Calories: Even if you can’t spend more time in your day walking, you can burn more calories by doing an intense speed walking workout. If you like to use interval training or walking workouts, use speed walking during the fast segments as an alternative to jogging.
- Get More Steps: While your steps per mile will go down as you walk faster, you’ll go further and get more steps overall. If you don’t have the time to walk more, you can make up the steps in speed and intensity!
How to Incorporate Speed Walking into Your Walking Routine
Speed walking is not only great at improving your cardiovascular health and strength level, but it’s also a great way of significantly increasing your calorie burn. That is why speed walking a perfect routine for those that want to take their fitness walking up a notch, get more intense and improve their walking weight loss.
Where to Speed Walk
While you can walk almost anywhere, speed walking is much easier (and safer) when you’re walking in the right environment. While you can get your steps indoors at a big box store or art museum, you wouldn’t go for a jog in those places. You can treat speed walking almost like jogging, and look for similar locations. Your speed walking route should be:
- Not crowded
- Have few obstacles
- Be long enough to get moving
- Have a relatively flat surface
Here are some perfect speed walking locations.
- Walking trails
- Circular running/walking tracks
- Inside on a treadmill
How to Add Speed Walking
What’s unique about speed walking is it’s not an all or nothing routine. Directly incorporating small amounts of speed walking into your walking workout will provide you with the fantastic benefits that speed walking can supply your body.
- Intervals: Start at a moderate pace for five minutes, then quickly pump up the walking speed for 30 seconds. Finally, return back to a moderate pace for another five minutes. Here’s a 30-minute walking workout to get you started.
- Finish Strong: Another great way to incorporate some speed walking is to finish off your walk at a fast pace. Begin with a slower warm-up and continuously increase the speed throughout the walk, when you are towards the end of your routine finish off with a vigorous pace to get that heart rate up. Once complete, take a minute to end with a slow cool-down walk and stretch.
When you begin to incorporate speed walking into your routine, you’ll want to take some baseline measurements. These results will help verify how fast your current walking pace is and see where your heart rate is at your top speed. The best way to get these measurements is to time yourself for a mile and check your results. You don’t need to compare your pace to anyone but yourself, but it’s important to get a baseline. Check your progress over time, and see if you can pick up the pace over the next few weeks or months.
How to Master the Speed Walking Technique
To master the art of speed walking, it is vital to make sure that you have the proper posture and speed walking technique. This will not only help prevent injuries, but it will ensure that your speed walking will feel natural and comfortable.
- Head and Torso: Maintaining a good posture will not only help you breathe easier, but it will also help you avoid back pain as you walk.
- Stand up straight with your eyes looking forward. Keep your chin parallel to the ground, and your shoulders relaxed. Suck in your stomach and tuck in your behind with your hips slightly forward. As you begin walking, avoid a side-to-side swaying motion and instead have your hips rotate front to back as you walk. As you get more confident, engaging your core can help give you a bit of a core workout.
- Arm Motion: Maintaining a proper arm motion is ideal for boosting your walking speed.
- Bend your arms at 90 degrees with your elbows close to your body. As you walk, your arms will work opposite your legs, with your left arm moving back as your left leg moves forward. Make sure to keep your arms level as they move forward and don’t raise them past your breastbone. This motion will look like you are extending your arm for a handshake.
- Foot Motion: Maintaining a proper foot motion while speed walking will not only help you absorb shocks, but it will also help you avoid straining your feet, and also increase your speed as you walk.
- Start by first placing your heel on the ground. Then as you move forward, you will roll through with the rest of the foot. Finish off by pushing ahead with the toes, which is how your body will propel forward and gain power and speed as you move.
Walking is a great low-impact exercise that provides your body with a variety of fantastic health benefits. It not only improves your heart and cardiovascular health, but it also helps reduce the risk of diabetes and certain cancers, all while improving bone and muscle strength. However, what most individuals fail to recognize is how amazing walking is for weight loss.
Speed walking is an intense, calorie-burning workout that most people can do. You don’t need to hit an Olympic racewalking pace to do speed walking. Fast for you can be whatever pace you like. That’s one reason walking is so great – it can be adjusted to match your own health and fitness level. Try walking a bit faster and you’ll get more steps and feel great!
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The Difference Between Fast Walking, Racewalking, and Power Walking. (2019). By Wendy Bumgardner. Very Well Fit.
How to Walk Faster for Better Workouts. (2019). By Wendy Bumgardner. Very Well Fit.