4 Strength Exercises Every Walker Should Be Doing
4 Strength-Training Moves Every Walker Should Be Doing
It can be hard for cardio-lovers to table the rush of heart-pounding exercise to focus on strength, but doing these few simple moves 2 or 3 times a week will do a lot more than ramp up your metabolism and tone your lower body. They'll also help you walk faster (so you can burn more calories during your walk) and make sure your walks stay pain- and injury-free. Sounds like a win-win to us.
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1. Single-Leg Hip Bridge
Why: You already know that strong glutes help power you forward with each step. But you might not realize that one side is probably stronger than the other. Over time, this imbalance can cause a shift in your pelvis, causing pain in the lower back and putting you at risk for sciatica. This move isolates each glute separately, so you can make sure they’re equally strong.
How:Lie on your back with hands facing down by your sides. Bend one knee and plant that foot on the floor. Take the other leg straight up toward the ceiling. Raise your hips until there is a straight line from your supporting knee to your hips to your shoulders. Slowly lower your hips back down to the ground. Perform 12 repetitions, then repeat on the opposite side. Do 2 to 3 sets.
MORE: 3 New Walking Workouts That Blast Fat
2. Donkey Kickback
Why:Hamstring strains—which feel like a chronic achiness or tightness in the back of the thigh that forces you to slow down—are more likely to occur when your hamstrings are weaker than your quads, which is a common imbalance in walkers. This move will help you strengthen the hamstrings, while also helping to tone your glutes.
How:Hold the handles of a long resistance band in your hands. Step your right foot in the middle of the band. Drop your knees to the floor and brace your forearms on a bench or ottoman. Extend your right knee and hip to kick your leg straight back. (Be sure to keep your right foot flexed to prevent the tubing from sliding off of your foot and popping you in the rear!) Perform 12 repetitions, then repeat on the opposite side. Do 2 to 3 sets.
MORE:8 Things That Happen To You Every Time You Go For A Walk
3. Overhead Up-Downs
Why:Many of us cave the shoulders in and round the midback forward as we walk, placing uneven pressure on the spinal discs, which can lead to back pain. (The rounded shoulders and hunched back appears to be especially profound when we walk hills, since we're shifting our center of gravity to counter the grade of the hill.) This move targets the shoulders and muscles of the midback so you'll be able to walk with perfect posture.
How:Hold both handles of a long resistance band in one hand. Take the middle of the band in the other hand. Raise your arms overhead with palms facing out, keeping tension in the tube. Attempt to keep arms straight overhead as you sit down onto a bench or sofa. Stand back up by rooting your feet into the ground with a wide stance and pushing with your legs. Be sure your knees track in the same direction as your toes. Aim to keep your midback extended and arms overhead the entire exercise. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
MORE: 3 Ways To Burn More Calories On Your Next Walk
4. Plank Hip Abductor
Why:The hips are a ball-and-socket joint, so they require movements in different directions. However, since walking is a forward-moving pattern, the muscles on the outside of your hips (the abductors) don't get much action. Without moving through different planes, hips can become stiff, triggering discomfort in the lower back, hamstrings, and butt. This move helps you avoid that by strengthening the abductors.
How:Rest your forearms on an ottoman or bench. Create a fist with your hands. Assume plank position with toes digging into the ground and elbows under shoulders on the bench. Lift your right leg off the ground with a flexed foot. Move that leg out away from your body (approximately 2 feet). Pull the leg back in toward your body, then place the foot back on the ground. Repeat with the other leg. That's 1 rep. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
Video: Non-Weight Bearing Workout. Total Body Exercise Routine Safe For Recovering From Injury.
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