Weekly Walking Workouts

Vary Your Walking Workout for Maximum Effect

Young Couple Walking Outdoors
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Do you walk the same distance and pace most every day? Do you feel like your fitness improvement has stalled? Do you want to prepare for a walking race, relay, or marathon? Time for a schedule with a variety of walking workouts.

This suggested weekly walking schedule was developed by renowned racewalker and coach Dave McGovern for his racewalk clinics. The plan is ideal for walkers looking for a challenge, including fitness walkers and racewalkers.

The week should include one day of interval workouts to build speed, two days of threshold workouts to build aerobic performance, and one day of long distance. There should also be a day of moderate walking in between each of the workouts. For more variety week after week, you can mix and match the workouts.

Weekly Walking Workout Plan

The key to these workouts is not to exceed your lactate threshold—working out so hard and long that your body builds up lactic acid in the muscles. This occurs when you workout at 90% or more of your maximum heart rate for more than 50 minutes. By knowing your maximum heart rate and using a heart rate monitor, you can ensure that you are working out at the right pace for the various workouts.

Monday

Start the week with a rest day. That means no walking of significant distance or intensity. You can also choose for your rest day to be on a different day of the week, depending on your schedule.

Tuesday: Interval Workout

Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace. Then walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds or 200 meters (two city blocks in most cities). After 30 seconds, drop down to an easy pace for 2 minutes. Repeat the 30 seconds speed/2 minutes rest 8 to 12 times. Cool down with a 10-minute easy pace walk. Your total workout time will be 40-50 minutes.

Wednesday: Recovery

Do a moderate 3-mile walk at 65% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. This is a pace at which you can easily maintain a conversation but are breathing harder than you are at rest. Your total workout time will range from 45-60 minutes.

Thursday: Threshold Workout #1

The first threshold workout will focus on speed. Start with a 10-minute warm up at an easy walking pace. Walk fast for 8 minutes or 1 kilometer at 85% to 92% of your maximum heart rate. Then slow down to an easy pace for 2 minutes. Repeat this for 3 to 4 repetitions, then cool down for 10 minutes at an easy pace. The threshold pace should be strenuous, but you should also be able to maintain it throughout a 10 kilometer/6 mile race. Your total workout time will range from 50-60 minutes.

You will be breathing very hard and able to speak only in short phrases during this speed workout.

Friday: Recovery

Do a moderate 3-mile walk at 65% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. Your total workout time will range from 45-60 minutes.

Saturday: Threshold Workout #2

Your next threshold workout is a steady state or tempo workout. Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace. Walk 20 to 30 minutes at 85% of your max heart rate then cool down with 10 minutes easy pace.

Sunday: Distance Workout

Walk for 8 to 12 kilometers (5 to 7 miles) at 50%–60% of your maximum heart rate. This is a conversational pace. Your total workout time will be 75-140 minutes.

A variety of workouts throughout the week will ensure that you build both speed and endurance, maximize calorie burn, and avoid overtraining or boredom.

15-Minute Walking Workouts to Try

If you have only 15 minutes to get in a good walk, use the following tips to maximize your 15-minute walk. Each of these short walking workouts will help you build different aspects of fitness: speed, endurance, aerobic capacity.

For each workout, be sure to stop after 10 minutes and do some easy stretching. For the workouts above 70% of maximum heart rate (MHR), do a 10-minute warm-up walk at an easy pace, stretch, then speed up to the suggested rate. When you walk faster, slow down to an easy pace for 10 minutes and finish with some stretching.

Moderate Health Walk

Walk 30 minutes daily at 50% to 60% of MHR. This is a purposeful but comfortable pace and builds long-term health and well-being.

Weight Control Walk or Fat Burning Walk

Walk at 60% to 70% of MHR for 45 to 60 minutes daily. This is a brisk pace with noticeable breathing but you can still carry on a conversation. The longer time period and increase in intensity will crank up your calorie burn.

Distance/Endurance Walk

Walk at 50% to 70% of MHR for 5 to 10 miles once per week to build endurance. If you are planning to participate in a 5K or 10K race, your distance walk should exceed the race distance by a mile or two. Joining in a local non-competitive 10K volkssport walk is a perfect way to include this workout.

Aerobic Walk

Walk faster at 70% to 80% of MHR for 20 to 60 minutes, every other day to improve aerobic fitness. On the days in between, do the easy health walk or weight control walk. This is quick walking with noticeable breathing, but you should not be out of breath.

Athletic Performance Walk (Threshold)

Turn up the intensity and walk at 80% to 92% of MHR for no more than 50 minutes. This threshold walk can be done 1 to 3 times per week, always with an easier or rest day in between. This is fast walking with heavy breathing, and you may have to adopt the racewalk technique or even jog to attain this heart rate.

Interval Workouts

This workout uses short bouts of walking as fast as you can for 30 seconds, followed by walking slow for 2 minutes. Interval walking workouts can be repeated 8 to 12 times and done once per week. For racewalkers, this builds speed ability and technique.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

You will need to know your MHR to ensure you are working out at the right pace. Your maximum heart rate is determined by your genetic make-up, sex, and age. The rule-of-thumb formulas work for many people, but the only accurate method is to have it tested by a cardiologist or exercise physiologist by a treadmill stress test, or by an experienced coach under field conditions.

If you are over the age of 35, overweight, have been sedentary for several years, or have a history of heart disease in your family, testing is recommended.

Basic MHR - Maximum Heart Rate

  • Men = 220 minus Age
  • Women = 226 minus Age

Approximate Maximum Heart Rate (beats per minute)

Age | Maximum Heart Rate
20 Male: 200 | Female: 208
25 Male: 195 | Female: 201
30 Male: 190 | Female: 196
35 Male: 185 | Female: 191
40 Male: 180 | Female: 186
45 Male: 175 | Female: 181
50 Male: 170 | Female: 175
55 Male: 165 | Female: 171
60 Male: 160 | Female: 166
65 Male: 155 | Female: 161
70 Male: 150 | Female: 156

Determine your target heart rate with a target heart rate chart and calculator. Simply enter your age and target percentage to see the desired beats per minute.

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Article Sources
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  2. Aneni EC, Oni ET, Osondu CU, et al. Obesity modifies the effect of fitness on heart rate indices during exercise stress testing in asymptomatic individualsCardiology. 2015;132(4):242-248. doi:10.1159/000435907

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