If you are looking for a way to train your entire body then you might not have thought of walking as being a potential candidate. Most of us think of walking as an exercise that we do for our legs, and maybe at a push our core as well – but what we might forget is that our shoulders and our arms can get a good workout from it as well if we are using them properly – and this is even more true if you start using walking poles too.
Also named trekking poles, hiking poles, or hiking sticks, these are essentially poles that you can use to assist yourself in walking and particularly when traversing particularly steep and treacherous terrain when hiking. Essentially they look like ski poles, and they can be used to help to pull yourself up while pushing on a steep incline with your feet, or to help stabilize you if you are off balance and likely to fall over.
Exercising With Walking Poles
Simply taking walking poles out with you for a walk will help you to tackle more difficult routes and this will right away mean that you can burn more calories and develop more muscle mass in your legs. At the same time though it also turns your hike into a more full body workout, and particularly if you make a conscious effort to engage your arms more in each movement working your biceps, lats, traps and shoulders in the movements.
Meanwhile you can also use walking poles to perform a range of exercises just on their own. For instance if you hold a walking pole in either hand with them next to you, and dip down so that you are ‘hanging’ from them with your feet lightly touching the floor for balance, you can then use your lats and biceps to raise and lower your upper body which is a great workout. Likewise holding the walking poles with fists you can also workout with them by ‘walking’ without moving your feet and instead using them like crutches and swinging your legs through the middle.
Other exercises you can do include tricep extensions (be in press up position but with your hands holding the bars slightly above your head and then straighten the arms to raise your upper body), dips, and something I call ‘walking pole press ups’ in which you are again in press up position but with your hands down by your sides holding on to the poles and then lift yourself by pushing downwards with them. There are all kinds of things you can do with them, so have an experiment and be sure to share what you come up with!