5 Ways to Lose More Weight with Walking Workouts

Woman walking With WalkvestEven the super-fit can learn something from this high-energy superwoman. Personal trainer Debbie Rocker, whose experiences as a pro athlete led her to create the weighted Walkvest® and a series of fitness walking CDs and DVDs, could easily pass for 10 years younger than her age (and yes, she does reveal that number below, with hardly a care). Kick-start weight loss results from your walking workouts with these surprisingly painless tricks she says are absolutely her top five training tips:


1. “Cross train” by varying your walking workout.

I’ve been seeing it for over a decade — people tell me they’ll walk the same six-mile route every day. Usually you can cut your workout time in half and get the same results, simply by changing up the way you walk!

If you always do the same things, your body knows exactly what to expect and it goes into conserve mode. It’s part of maintaining stasis. And your mind goes to that same place — the workout gets boring, and you don’t keep walking at a vigorous pace. It loses what I call the “training effect.”

If you can swim and cycle and walk, that’s fantastic. But walking is something you can take with you anywhere and do throughout your lifetime. You can walk anywhere — outside, in front of your TV, in a gym. Your heart rate conditioning is varied based on different terrain. And when you walk indoors, you’re using completely different muscles in different ways, with different levels of resistance.

Use a treadmill once a week. Another day, take your dog, meet a friend and do a casual stroll. It’s not as dramatic a cross-training effect as going from cycling to swimming, but it’s a big difference compared to walking the same path for three years.

2. Add some intensity bursts.

One school of thought is that the longer your work out, the more likely your body is to go into fat burning mode. But another theory goes that after a long workout, 60 to 90 minutes, the body goes into conserve mode.

People will tell me, “When I started spinning I lost 15 pounds; now I’m not losing anymore.” And I say, “You’re just spinning more; you have to spin more efficiently.” The research on this seems to indicate that if you mix short intense bursts, you go into fat-burning mode after your workout rather than into conserve mode. It’s six of one, half-dozen of the other.

Try doing run-walks. Add an interval workout, with intense bursts mixed in every few minutes, twice a week. If you can get in two intense 15 to 20 minute interval workouts per week, plus one moderate but longer workout, that’s a great start. Then work up to adding an additional really long workout that’s very intense. That’s an incredible workout week.

Once or twice a week I walk with a friend for over an hour wearing a Walkvest, and I’m telling you we hoof it — it’s intense. Other than that, most of my workouts are 15 to 20 minutes long. My friend’s dog is a very fast, vital dog. I’ll take the dog out and walk fast for a block, jog for a block, and do that for 15 to 20 minutes. Or I’ll walk, then do lunges for half a block, then tricep extensions, then walk for a block.

3. Work out with a coach, via DVD/CD or in person, three days a week.

I know how hard it is to change. We all need help!

Effective training tools are important, but coaching is imperative to reaching new levels of fitness. A good coach can take you places you can’t go alone. My training as a professional coach and motivator helps me know what it will take to bring out the best in you; and as a former pro athlete, I know what will work.

Your coach will be with you every step of the way. You’re starting from scratch, working from the ground up, together.

Even when you’re walking intensely, you can listen to a CD with coaching and music. It motivates you and reminds you of how powerful you are, how valuable your workouts are, how positive it is on every level. This can help in a very physical way too, moving your heart rate around and constantly changing the levels of intensity in the body.

4. Work out to live better, not just lose weight.

Your body starts losing bone mass at 30! I want to build and support my body, not wear it down. I want to be better at the movements I do all day long. I want my balance to be sharp and my joints strong, with no more stress on my body than necessary.

Anyone over 25 may be too old to run. I had a training regimen that kept me pounding the pavement for hours on end, and ultimately it had negative effects on my body. I switched my exercise routine to weight-bearing walking, and I started to love my workouts again. I looked forward to walking. Clearly you’re more likely to work out if you actually look forward to it.

I’m going to be 49 this year and I plan to look like this until I die!

5. Change your mind.

I am a huge proponent of, “Don’t even bother changing your body if you don’t change your mind.” It will be temporary, and it will add to past failures.

We condition ourselves to fail. People are convinced they can’t do it based on their past experience trying to diet and lose weight.

This is another great reason to add intensity bursts to kick-start fat burn. The faster you can get results, the more you build your belief that you can do it. It’s the fastest way to change your body, and your mind changes too.

I also believe the universe brings us what we’re thinking about whether we want it or not. Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, fears and obsessions drive our actions and behaviors. So focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

If you want to lose weight, think about how much you want to lose and what you want to look like and feel like, not how much you hate being heavy. If you think about what is, you just get more of what is. Think how much you want to be healthy and fit.

Includes excerpts from Training for Life: Walk Your Way to Fitness and Weight Loss in 14 Days by Debbie Rocker. Republished with permission. Copyright Hachette Book Group USA.

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blondie's picture
User offline. Last seen 8 years 12 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 03/05/2008

I found Debbie Rocker on exercise TV and just loved her. The workout I did was invigorating and I felt like I was actually doing something that works. I ordered her walking DVD and can't wait for it to arrive. Now I just want to know how to get her arms?!

Andi's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 43 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 05/26/2007

Interesting and useful, but I should make one point: one should NEVER run with a dog, and try to have him/her keep up with you. I see this all the time, and it's ridiculous -- the dogs are on a leash, panting hard, trying to hydrate without water. Obviously, dogs are not build like humans, so ask your vet - he or she will tell you the same thing. Dogs need exercise and a lot of running around, but not like this.

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