Before you begin, map out a 1-mile flat route or walk four loops around a quarter-mile track. Warm up with some easy walking for 5 to 10 minutes, then walk your 1-mile route as quickly as possible. Aim to maintain a consistent pace. You should be breathing hard but not gasping for air. Note your time at the end of the mile, and then walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes to cool down.
Here’s a summary of the 4-Week Fast Walking Plan, developed by Toronto walking coach Lee Scott. Each week involves four days of training. Click on the links for descriptions of the various types of sessions. Click here for an explanation of the 1-10 rating of perceived effort (RPE, your perception of your workout intensity).
WEEK 2: 30-minute Brisk Walk; 40-minute Interval Walk 1; 40-minute Interval Walk 2; 60-minute Endurance Walk with 10-minute burst
WEEK 3: 30-minute Brisk Walk; 40-minute Hill Walk; 40-minute Interval Walk 2; 60-minute Endurance Walk with 10-minute burst
WEEK 4: 30-minute Brisk Walk; 40-minute Hill Walk; 40-minute Interval Walk 2; 60-minute Endurance Walk with 15-minute burst
You can do the walks on any day of the week. They do not need to be done on consecutive days. In fact, to give your body time to recover from the higher intensity workout, you should allow a rest day between Interval Walks. But it’s fine to do a Brisk or Endurance Walk on the day after an Intensity Walk. You can do alternate workouts such as cycling, swimming, Pilates, yoga, Zumba on days you’re not walking. Just keep the intensity low to moderate.
After you’ve completed the plan, repeat the 1-mile walk test to see how much faster you’ve gotten!
Intensity is measured on a 1 to 10 scale of your rate of perceived exertion (RPE).
Here are guidelines on how each level feels.
This walk maintains a pace that is challenging yet doable for 20 minutes.
Interval Walk 1
By pushing yourself to walk as fast as you possibly can for 20-second intervals, you will condition your body to go faster without increasing your risk of injury.
Interval Walk 2
This walk challenges your body a little more than Interval Walk 1 by increasing the fast walking interval while decreasing the recovery interval.
Climbing hills strengthens key walking muscles in your legs and butt so it will be easier for you to pick up your pace on level ground. Take shorter steps, land on your heel, and maintain an upright posture when going uphill. On the downhill, slow down.
You shouldn’t walk much further downhill than uphill. Aim to keep your front leg as straight as possible to avoid bobbing up and down as you walk downhill.
Duration, not speed, is the focus of this workout during the first week. In weeks 2 and 3, you speed up to a brisk pace (7 RPE) for 10 minutes. And in week 4, you’ll increase the brisk bout to 15 minutes. You can do these brisk bouts at any point during the workout after you’ve warmed up.
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