‘Power walking’ (also sometimes called ‘fitness walking’ or ‘race walking’) is basically the act of walking really fast with the end goal of burning calories. This is actually a very practical and useful way to work out and has many advantages over a lot of other forms of CV. For one it’s useful and doesn’t get you incredibly sweaty and this means that you can use it to get to work, or to go shopping at your local Tesco for milk and just generally tie it in with your lifestyle so that you don’t need to specifically find an opportunity to train. At the same time though it is also very useful in that it’s gentle on the joints and something that everyone can do. As long as you are capable of getting from A to B, then you can up the ante and that means power walking.
How to Do It
So the question remains, how do you start power walking? Of course there’s more technique to it than simply just walking faster, so here are the tips you need to know:
Arm Swing: When you power walk you should involve your arms more than you normally might. This means you want your arms to be bent at a roughly 90 degree angle and to really pump through the movement as you walk. This has the dual benefits of not only helping to propel you forward by giving you more momentum in that direction thus speeding you up, but also of involving your upper body in a workout that would otherwise be targeted very much toward the legs ensuring that you build better deltoids as well as burning lots of calories.
Posture: When you power walk it is important to be as upright as possible. This means standing up tall with your chin up and looking forward. However you don’t want to be too ‘bolt’ upright, nor to create too much of a curve in your spine. Make sure it’s a normal and comfortable position and you should be able to draw a straight line through from your ear to your shoulder, to your hips to your ankle. Keeping your head upright prevents neck ache and helps to keep driving you forward without crashing.
The Hips: In your hips you want to achieve something similar to the arms – you are attempting to swing them forward with you so that your hips help to drive each leg in front of you in turn and generate more power. This takes practice as the hips are generally inflexible but over time they will improve. Try watching videos of power walkers to get an idea just how much swing you want in your hips and don’t worry too much about it at first if it doesn’t feel natural.
The Stride: A common mistake for people trying power walking for the first time is to try increasing the length of their stride in order to cover more ground more quickly. This is a mistake because it places unnecessary strain on your spine and knees and because it is not energy efficient. What you must do instead then is to increase the tempo of your walking if you want to speed up, and to try to keep your knees as much directly below you as possible.
Feet: Your feet should strike with the heel first and ‘roll’ through the motion to launch you off the ball of your foot. It’s very important here to wear supportive shoes that can absorb some of the impact of each step and which can help to support the angle of your foot and ankle thereby preventing you from twisting it or putting awkward pressure on the knee joint.
Breathing: Lastly to avoid getting tired out, try to time your breathing with your stride so that you fall into a natural rhythm. It can even help at first to try listening to some music with a steady beat that’s slightly quicker than the usual pace of your walking.