Whether you’re a regular at the gym and constantly thinking about building muscle, or you’re a fitness tracker fanatic who has your eyes on the daily 10,000, you must have thought, does walking build muscle? After all, it’s our most regular form of exercise, and for some who have trouble lifting weights or engaging in intense cardio, the only form that can be done.
“Walking is viewed primarily as a form of low-intensity cardiovascular exercise,” says Brett Starkowitz, master trainer and director of training at Ten Health & Fitness (opens in new tab). “It doesn’t generally cause significant changes in muscle mass or muscle tone.” Well, that’s it then, isn’t it? Well, not quite, so keep looking around the best treadmills (opens in new tab) Now.
“Walking falls into the category of endurance exercise, which is known to build slow-twitch muscle fibers; The fibers are mainly used for periods of sustained activity. People may notice a slight increase in leg size after walking, as the legs “swell” to absorb nutrients and remove waste products — such as fat lactic acid (opens in new tab)‘ says Starkowitz.
That might explain those bulging calves after your usual stroll through the local park, but unfortunately the change in volume doesn’t last more than an hour afterward. However, keep walking regularly for longer periods of time and those toned calves might stick around, according to a 2018 study Nagoya University (opens in new tab) It found that muscle quality improved in 31 participants after 10 weeks of regular 30-minute walking sessions.
So while walking won’t build the legs of an Olympic lifter, muscle needs to be built from it. With that, we’ll look at what muscles work when you walk, whether you can burn fat while walking, and get tips from Starkowitz to improve your daily walks and start building muscle faster.
What muscles are exercised when walking?
Walking will primarily work your lower body and primarily stimulate your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves and hip adductors, as well as your spine and abs, all of which play an important role in stabilizing your core as you move forward.
“Walking is one of the best all-around leg workouts,” says Starkowitz, who also mentions the need to carry small hand weights or Nordic poles if you want to expand walking into a full-body workout.
Can you burn fat while walking?
Yes. “Cardiovascular exercise combined with proper nutrition is a great recipe for burning fat,” says Starkowitz. “The key is to monitor your heart rate and work in what is called the ‘fat burning zone’. This typically equates to exercising at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate, which generally equates to 7 to 12 calories burned per minute.”
Another important aspect to consider when looking for fat burning results from walking is duration.
“If you’re working at this low-to-moderate intensity level, you need to make sure your walks are long enough to see meaningful results,” Starkowitz says.
Also remember that if you want to exercise for weight loss, the morning is best, with a study in the International Journal of Obesity (opens in new tab)noting that participants who participated in a 10-month supervised exercise program had greater weight loss success when they exercised between 7:00 a.m. and 11:59 a.m.
“Regular walking helps maintain muscle mass,” says Starkowitz. “Unlike fat, muscle mass is metabolically active, which means you burn more calories on a daily basis.”
Need help squeezing the extra steps together? Install one of the best treadmills (opens in new tab) under your desk and you can take a walk while you work.
Maximizing muscle gain while walking
According to Starkowitz, there are several ways to maximize your muscle-building potential while walking.
“One popular way is to incorporate intervals, alternating between a steady walk and a ‘power walk,’ a light jog, or a sprint,” says Starkowitz. “This will have multiple benefits for cardiovascular endurance and strength gains by activating fast-twitch muscle fibers.
“You can also pause during your walk to add in some bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats, push-ups, or planks. Try to incorporate small 20-30 second bodyweight strength intervals into your gait to maximize the cross-training effect. Or change the direction of your walk by adding intervals of back jogging and side stepping to work on improving balance and stability.
Beyond these cross-functional forms of exercise, there is also the option of adding weights to your walk. We’ve mentioned hand weights and cross-country ski poles, but you should also consider a weighted vest or ankle weights.
“Weight vests have the added benefit of activating and strengthening your back muscles to ensure you maintain good posture throughout the walk,” says Starkowitz.
Plus, according to a 2018 systematic review, weight walking can also increase bone muscle density and reduce the risk of fractures BioMed Research International (opens in new tab).
Mix up the terrain
Another great way to kick-start your muscle building is to take your walk from flat ground and up the incline.
“Walking on trails, roads, grass, sloped or uneven surfaces, or unstable ones like sand or gravel challenges the muscles of your lower legs, ankles, and feet more than sidewalks, and they have to work harder to maintain balance and stability,” says Starkowitz. “Try to change the route of your walk to include a few different inclines and surfaces, and if you find any stairs along your walk, take them.”
And if the idea of going off-road keeps you from going outside, take your walks inside with a treadmill. “Switch between different inclines and speeds to vary the intensity and muscle recruitment of the workout,” Starkowitz says. “Finally, when walking on a treadmill, let go of the handrails. You will increase calorie burn and core muscle recruitment a lot more.”
Does walking build muscle? | Live Science Source link Does walking build muscle? | Live Science