Walking is a great choice if you are looking to build endurance and overall health and fitness. To improve muscle tone, combining walking with strength training is ideal. While power walking with weights is not recommended, strength-training intervals can be a safer, more effective way to include resistance training in your walking routine.
This plan, designed for intermediate-level walkers, offers a suggested two-week schedule of walks programmed to help build strength, stamina and endurance. There is a recommended duration range for the length of your walks, but feel free to make adjustments as needed to suit your individual needs, schedule and preferences.
These intensity notes, which are based on your individual perceived exertion and fitness level, help you gauge your RPE level. A 9–10 should feel like an RPE level that is so intense you cannot sustain it for more than a few seconds, while a 1–2 should feel like almost no RPE at all.
Very brisk, hard RPE is relative, as once you become more fit, what used to be hard feels easier, so you can continue challenging yourself by pushing harder (either for a longer duration, by increasing your intensity, or both). It’s easy to dial up your intensity by increasing your speed or amping up into a run or jog. Conversely, if you need to ease up, lengthen the steady pace or recovery window.
During this steady-state walk, you should maintain the same brisk pace. At this effort, you should be breathing harder but still able to maintain a conversation (RPE 5–6).
STRENGTH CIRCUIT WALK [30–45 MINUTES]
After a 3–5 minute warmup walk, rotate resistance training moves with walking intervals to help develop total-body strength. Alternate 2–3 minute intervals of a steady, power pace (RPE 5–6) with 30–60 seconds of any or all of the strength moves listed below. (For an extra challenge, feel free to perform these exercises holding dumbbells when appropriate for added resistance.) Wind down by spending the last 5 minutes at a more comfortable pace and allow your breathing and heart rate to recover.
After a 3–5 minute warmup walk, add some interval training to maximize your calorie burn. Alternate 2–3 minute intervals of a steady, power pace (RPE 5–6) with 30–60 seconds of a very fast-pace walk (RPE 7–8). As you build your fitness, you can increase the length of the more challenging intervals (building to 1 minute) and, if you like, decrease your moderate pace/recovery time (shortening from 3 minutes to 2, for example). Wind down by spending the last 5 minutes at a more comfortable pace and allow your breathing and heart rate to recover.
Consistency is the key to success with any exercise, and finding ways to enjoy the process can make it easier to stick with your plan. Spend at least one of your walk days this week simply getting out, moving and connecting with your body, your surroundings and even your loved ones. If you can, let go of a time and an intensity-specific goal — don’t worry about miles logged or calories burned — just experience movement for the sake of moving your body and feeling the energy you are generating. Explore a new route, bring a friend or family member along to catch up or take your dog for a walk to a new park — whatever brings you joy. Go for as long as you like, and for bonus points, focus on some things you’re grateful for this week. Gratitude is a wonderful way to stay present and appreciate your body, no matter where you are in your current journey.
Make progress every day while you work on fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.