Walking with weights can involve either wearable weights or hand weights such as dumbbells. Learn about the different types of weights you can add to your walking workout and tips for completing the exercise safely.
What Does Walking With Weights Mean?
Walking with weights involves walking while holding light weights in your hands or walking while wearing a weighted accessory like a heavy vest, wrist weights, or ankle weights. Walking is a great aerobic and cardio workout that raises your heart rate. It’s also a low-impact strength-training exercise that builds muscle in your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Walking with weights intensifies the workout to increase calorie burn and muscle toning. Depending on your fitness goals and where you place the added weight, you can activate your upper body or further challenge your lower-body muscles during your walking workout.
4 Types of Weights to Use for Walking
Walking weights include both wearable weights and hand weights that you can easily incorporate into your walking routine.
- 1. Weighted vest: A weighted vest is worn around your shoulders, chest, and midsection just like a normal vest. The vest is typically outfitted with pockets that make the amount of weight adjustable.
- 2. Wrist weights: Wrist weights are typically made of nylon and are secured around the wrist joint by a velcro strap. The extra weight at the wrist increases activation of your arm and chest muscles.
- 3. Ankle weights: Ankle weights are secured around your ankle joint by a velcro strap. The extra weight at the ankle places greater strain on your quadriceps.
- 4. Hand weights: Hand weights are any weight that you can grip securely and comfortably while walking, such as dumbbells.
3 Risks of Walking With Weights
While walking with weights can turn an everyday physical activity into a strength-training exercise, there are several notable risks to consider before incorporating walking weights in your workout routine.
- 1. High blood pressure: Gripping hand weights for prolonged amounts of time during strenuous physical activity could cause your blood pressure to rise, and consistently high blood pressure can lead to heart disease. Take care not to practice walking with weights for more than 20 minutes and avoid the exercise altogether if you have cardiovascular risk factors.
- 2. Risk of injury: Wearing weights on your wrists or ankles can place undue strain on your joints and ligaments, which in turn can cause swelling and soreness. They can also alter your body’s natural gait, which could cause you to trip or roll an ankle. Be mindful of where you are walking and stop if you notice any pain or discomfort.
- 3. Muscle imbalance: Ankle weights cause your quads rather than your hamstrings to do most of the work while walking. Over time, this may lead to your leg muscles becoming disproportionate. If you plan on walking with weights frequently, incorporate other exercises that activate your hamstrings, like deadlifts, to maintain balance.
How to Walk With Weights Safely
Begin by walking with weights 2–3 days a week for 15–20 minutes at a time. Select relatively light weights such as 1–3-pound dumbbells or ankle weights. Choose footwear that is flexible, durable, and provides optimal stability and support.
- 1. Hold a pair of light dumbbells. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips with a neutral head and neck position. Evenly distribute your bodyweight along your entire foot.
- 2. As you start walking, keep your movement fluid and relaxed. Your breathing should be slow, rhythmic, and relaxed. Your posture should be tall. Your shoulders should remain level and relaxed.
- 3. Choose a walking pace that allows you to maintain optimal posture. Maintain a neutral head and neck position while keeping your eyes forward. Your chin should remain tucked throughout your walk, as if you were holding an egg under your chin.
- 4. As you walk, swing your arms backward and forward. Arm swings should come from your shoulders. On each backswing, your elbow should pass your shoulder. On the front swing, your elbow should finish in line with your ribcage or slightly ahead of your ribcage.
- 5. Your hands should remain light and relaxed. Your pelvis should be tucked, and your ribs should be down.
- 6. As you walk, land in a heel-to-toe manner to propel yourself forward.
- 7. When you’re finished with your walk, stretch and hydrate properly.
How to Work Out Safely and Avoid Injury
If you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify each exercise to attain optimal results based on your individual needs. Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement. When performing any exercise, pay close attention to your body, and stop immediately if you note pain or discomfort.
To see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program. Your results will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. Rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.
Would you like to learn the proper weight training technique? I can help you.