On World’s Strongest Librarian, when we talk about exercise, we’re usually talking about things that are a little more extreme than simply going for a walk. I know that walking for weight loss is not the most thrilling idea in the world, but it is something that every single person–that can walk without pain–can do. When I teach my Movement classes here in Salt Lake, I almost always include walking in the workouts. Why? Simple: Because most people simply do not get enough walking in their lives, particularly if they sit at a desk all day like I do. Walking is a fundamental life movement and if we can’t do it well we’re not going to feel as well as possible.
My personal belief is that trainers need to meet paying clients where they are at, in terms of physicality. It cannot be centered around a particular tool, like a kettlebell or barbell. These are great tools, but what if the client cannot perform movements safely or productively with these implements? Well, if the trainer is willing to learn about more than one style of training there is no shortage of options. But if someone thinks that a kettlebell is the answer to every problem, and refuses to explore other avenues, not every client is going to be best served by that trainer, because not every client can be jammed into that trainer’s area of expertise.
I have a lot of people who come to me wanting to learn kettlebells. It quickly becomes apparent that the movements are not good for them, based on biofeedback testing. But the range of motion tests aren’t even necessary for most of them in order to see that their bodies just don’t like what they’re doing.
That’s where walking comes in. I believe that if people will simply move where they can, soon they will be able to more where they can’t. I say this because I have personally sorted out more of my aches, twinges, pains, and pinched nerves by simply taking a long walk than just about anything.
Now, walking has many benefits, but this article is about walking for weight loss. As with any other movement–and walking is just a movement, with a whole lot of components to it–the answer to losing weight is to add resistance (increase the intensity), add volume (the total distance walked), and increase the density (distance walked for time).
Adding weight is as simple as picking up a weight and going for a walk. If you are interested in some suggestions for variations, please read this post about farmer’s walks.
Adding volume is as simple as walking a little bit farther than you did previously.
Adding density is as simple as walking faster: increased density means that you do more work in less time. Work simply means, in this case, how far you walked and how much weight you were carrying.
Here is how you make these things all work together: keep a training log. If you do not track the data, your improvements will not be as consistent as possible because you cannot possibly keep all these variables in your head, certainly not over the course of your training lifetime.
Track the data and the numbers either go up or down, whether you’re walking to lose weight, trying to get a bigger deadlift, or anything else. The numbers won’t lie to you.
Weight loss is about dropping the pounds, but it is also about changing your body composition and building muscle. Walking doesn’t come to mind when you think of muscle building, right? But no matter what movement we’re doing, the body does create tissue along the lines of stress that are being worked, and walking does put the body under positive stress–again, assuming that walking can be done without pain.
If you are consistently able to improve your numbers, your body composition will improve. That is the key to weight loss. Not just the number on the scale, but the amount of body fat and muscle you have. They’re all tied into the numbers in your training log, but you won’t know that if you don’t write it down!
So, track your data, make those numbers go up, and the number on the scale will go down, provided you don’t eat ice cream five times a day.