Walking for Power
Whether you are an athlete, looking to lose fat, build muscle or an outdoor enthusiast, walking is the bees knees.
Also, really good for your knees, as it turns out.
Powerlifter, fighter, baseball player or mountain climber, the bulk of your training should be specific to your goals.
Secondary to that, heavy conditioning is the gold standard for building a better foundation, increasing General Physical Preparedness and improving work capacity. The problem is, there’s only so much heavy conditioning you can do without hitting a wall or seeing your training slip backwards.
Athletes of all kinds tend to fall into the negative cycle of skipping recovery. On the flip side, as a “Regular Joe” who doesn’t consider themself an “athlete” (we can argue about this in person if you’d like), finding a good starting point for wellness and General Physical Preparedness can be frustrating and unsure.
I present to you, walking.
Time tested, mother approved and you have to try pretty hard to hurt yourself.
Let’s break it down...
- Very little central nervous system involvement and even CNS calming
- You will not “lose bulk” or “gains” from walking but will gain Type I muscle fibers not generally exercised through explosive movements and the heavy weights of weightlifting, heavy conditioning or even interval training.
You will increase blood flow to your lower extremities, subsequently:
- Increasing the vascularity to your tendons and ligaments
- Improving mobility
- Reducing stiffness
- Has a natural flossing effect on your spine
Is the perfect fasted cardio for muscle dense athletes (large mass of muscle with little to no body fat). Fasted cardio for the more muscular inclined can eat into your muscle because it is the most readily available source of energy for your body’s utilization. (AHEM, we offer free, early morning group Trail Hikes every Friday and 2 trail workouts per week)
More specifically, trail walking is the preferred method of mobilization and uphill…
If you are a large bodied person, have a large amount of muscle or even a large amount of fat, walking uphill and on a dirt trail will reduce impact on your joints, increase the development of both Type I muscle fibers as well as Type II without stressing the body enough to negatively impact your sport specific training.
Trail training’s naturally varied terrain encourages strike diversity in your step and increases the potential benefit of breath control as faulty step patterns can negatively affect your breathing patterns as well (we’ll talk more about this in another blog post).
Walking uphill and on a trail also:
- Improves heart function
- Increases your stroke volume
- Increases your work capacity
- Lowers blood sugar (think after dinner walk)
Actually reduces your potential for pain!
Having strong large muscle groups such as your thighs and core (both taxed moving your body uphill), increases nerve stimulation efficiency from large nerve signals to your brain, which subsequently dampen your small nerve signals that are responsible for most pain. So, being strong actually makes you feel less pain, doing so on a trail has been proven to lessen stress, be an immediate mood booster, increase creative thought and give you some much needed Vitamin D!
Additionally, walking the walk protects your joints, hips and knees by strengthening in a low impact fashion while lubricating all of the bendy parts and even reduces your risk of Arthritis and Osteoarthritis by:
- Increasing bone density
- Strengthening thigh muscles which reduces the impact on knee strain
As for calorie burn, mile for mile, walking is comparable to jogging and walking uphill on varied terrain takes the win. You’ll also avoid the faulty movement patterns often adopted by new runners. If you want to supersize your calorie burn and make walking more of a training day instead of a recovery, throw a weighted backpack on! Rucking, as it’s referred to, has become a great way to meet people in your city or as you travel the world and even has an endurance event organized around it, called Goruck who have Ruck Clubs all over the world! All you need is a backpack, some bricks taped together and low offendability.
So the real questions now are why AREN’T you trail walking and wanna go for a walk?