Let's talk about walking today. More specifically–weighted walking.
Walking is, in my opinion, a great exercise and I do it as much as I can. But there is a way to make your walks even more beneficial. Bring your backpack with you, fill it with some heavy stuff and go. You get a greater calorie burn, you strengthen your muscles and work your endurance.
Why Weighted Walking is Good for You
Walking is the most natural way of moving our bodies–more natural than running. Not everybody can run, but most of us can walk. It's a movement where most of your bigger muscle groups are at work, everything from your legs to your core and even your arms, if you remember to move them 🙂
When you go out for your next walk, put a bunch of heavy books into your backpack. By doing that, instead of walking with no additional weight, you will
- Burn more calories. Makes sense, right? The heavier load, the more energy used and the more calories burnt.
- Increase muscle strength–simple walking without any weights is good for you, no doubt about that. But adding weight will work your muscles a whole lot more.
- Work harder on your cardio. Try going uphill with that bag and without it and you realize that the heavy walk leaves you huffing and puffing in no time.
- Burn more fat. Your heart rate goes up faster, your workout gets more intense and as a result, you will burn way more fat than with a regular walk.
- Improve your performance in other exercises, like squats. Your legs are getting stronger and that also carries over to your squats and other full body exercises.
What To Put Into Your Bag
What you put into your bag depends on how heavy you want your load to be and also on how far you go. If you are going to a 5-mile walk, you probably don't want to carry 50 lbs in your bag, but if you are doing several short walks as a part of your workout, go heavier.
Be creative when filling your bag. Here are some things that you can load your bag with:
- Workout equipment, like kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls etc.
- Books. 5-6 heavy books should easily fit into any backpack.
- Bags of rice. In my sandbag, I use 2 lbs rice bags and they work great. You can also carry bags of salt, sugar or any other kinds of foods.
- Groceries. Walk to the store with an empty bag, walk back home with all that you bought!
Why I Started Carrying Weights In My Bag
Truthfully, I started doing heavy walks kind of accidentally. It wasn't my intention or part of a plan to get stronger, burn more calories or build muscle. I started doing it because I love to work out at a park and I had to find the way to take my weights there.
Later, when I started training clients, I brought all the equipment that we were going to use, in my backpack and walked to the park. At first, my clients were surprised and even worried (!), but they are fine with it now. They know that I do “weird” stuff 🙂
Of course, I wouldn't be able to do that for a group training, but if I'm training one-on-one, that's perfectly doable. Taking two 30 lbs kettlebells to the park half mile away from my house is not a problem.
Go For A Weighed Walk
Outside of my trainings or training clients, I have sometimes started to carry weights in my bag also when I go for a regular walk. I like to call those walks my “podcast walks”, because I often use that time to catch up on my favorite podcasts.
As said, be careful with making the bag too heavy when you are headed to a longer walk. Think about it when you load your bag–the weight that feels okay when you first pick it up may feel way heavier after five miles!
It's always good to spice your workouts up a bit. You can carry your weights by walking at a steady pace, but you can make it more interesting. Here's how:
- Walk up some hills. That's some extra burn on your quads and work for your lungs.
- Vary your speed. Throw in 1-3 minute faster bouts, then slow the pace down again.
- Do some lunges. Get in some more intense muscle work.
- Pick the bag up and carry it in your hand for a while. That wy you get those arms involved too.
- Walk stairs. Give your glutes, quads and calves some extra work to do.
Remember, variety is the spice of life–and workouts!
It's Not Weird
And finally, if you think that walking with a kettlebell in your bag is strange, then simply stop thinking about looking or being weird.
First of all, nobody will see what's in your bag, if you are worried about that. Second, think that what you are doing is good for you. Nowadays people don't seem to be able to walk anywhere even without any weights, everybody is driving their cars even to places that are super close to them. You can be different. Plus, you are doing a great service to your health.
When you go somewhere to workout and walk there instead of driving, you have already done your warmup by the time you get there. Walking back home is a nice cool down. That's, of course, possible if you are living within a reasonable distance from your workout place.
Going to a groceries is similar–think if you really absolutely need a car, or could you better sneak in a workout while getting your chores done?
Weighted walks can be a nice addition to your regular workouts. You can do them as a part of your workout or as an independent workout. If you would want to do something on your rest day too, put some bags in you backpack and go explore the nature. Bring your favorite audiobook or podcast and you are working out even without realizing it.
Glad to see I’m not the only one doing something like this:
Kersten Kimura says
Very cool Tim! You make a good point in your article, it’s important to work the way up to heavier weights gradually. High five to us heavy backpack walkers 🙂
Great stuff I’m an active kettlebell walker long distance .
My next strong endurance will be 6 miles while carrying 40kg kettlebells. 80kg walk. Also love lighter over head walks and many other odd shape walks.