Christine McCarthy was a runner. Diehard and determined, running defined her. But about five years ago, her shoulders began hurting. So did her neck and the trapezius muscles in her upper back. She went through physical therapy, but the problems persisted.
So, she turned to what she never thought she would do, much less grow to love:
“People think it’s going backwards from running to power walking,” says McCarthy, head coach at Orangetheory Fitness in Salem, N.H. “They often have the mindset they have to run or jog to work out. I have to get them to realize you can work out differently and get the same or better effect than you would if you were running.
Power walking is more than just a leisurely stroll; it involves moving quickly, often even faster than jogging, to burn calories effectively while maintaining one foot on the ground at all times, protecting your joints from excessive impact.
“During power walking,” explains exercise physiologist Fabio Comana, science advisor to Orangetheory, “the largest impact forces during a heel strike would rarely exceed 2.5 times the body weight. In running, though, the body is suspended into the air during two float phases and is accelerated to the ground at a force which could be as high as 11 times the body weight.”
When you put your heart and mind into power walking, it can be as challenging and effective as any other exercise you will do in an Orangetheory workout.
Orangetheory’s senior director of health science and research emphasizes that as a power walker, “You can still get into higher heart rate zones so your body is working hard in class.”
Here’s how you can make the most of your power walking workout, ensuring it’s a fulfilling workout experience:
Consult Your Coach
All Orangetheory coaches undergo specific training for each phase of the workout. They know the tricks and tips to enhance your power walking performance.
Use a Heart Rate Monitor
Wearing a heart rate monitor allows you to monitor your physiological response during your workout. It helps you achieve Splat Points, the minutes your body spends in the orange and red heart rate zones. This also provides second-by-second feedback on when to push harder or ease off.
Optimize Arm Movement
Pump your arms at 90-degree angles to engage your core and upper body effectively. Avoid swinging them across your body’s midline, as it is inefficient and unnatural.
Maintain Forward Focus
Keep your eyes fixed ahead to prevent rounded posture and its negative effects, especially when walking on a treadmill.
Simulate Hiking and Maximize Your Heart Rate Zone
To maximize your power walk’s benefits, envision yourself on a hike. Squeeze your core, lean forward, drive your knees up and pump your arms.
Improved Fitness Through Consistent Walking
In addition to your Orangetheory classes, incorporate walking into your daily routine. Walking is a wonderful way to get moving and improve fitness.
In summary, power walking can be a dynamic and effective alternative to running, offering a plethora of benefits. By following these tips and utilizing a heart rate monitor, you can take your power walking to the next level, achieve your fitness goals with confidence, and improve the time you spend in the orange heart rate zone.