(Photo: Getty Images)
Want to make your walking workouts more challenging? Head for the hills. Seriously: Striding up slopes cranks up the cardio demands, and you can easily recover on the flats and downhills. And when you add hill climbing to your workout, you’ll be able to burst through plateaus in your training or weight loss progress. (Burn calories and build muscle—all while boosting your mood—with our 21-Day Walk a Little, Lose a Lot Challenge!)
This Ultimate Hill Walking Workout is designed to be gentle on your joints while maximizing your calorie burn during the walk and for up to 24 hours following your workout. We’re betting that you’ll love the variety in this workout, as well. After all, if exercise isn’t fun, you won’t do it.
This workout is designed for a treadmill with adjustable incline up to 15%. Or check out the option for doing this outside on nearby hills. Plan to do the Ultimate Hill Walking Workout about 3 times a week alongside regular walks and a strength-training routine.
You probably already know how much music can help during exercise. Take a look at workoutmusic.com/hill to find timeless hits with high-energy beats that will pump up your walk and help you maintain your pace.
You’ll need these three paces for this workout:
- This pace should raise your heart rate and get you breathing hard, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation. Figure between 3.5 and 4.2 mph.
- This is about 0.2 mph faster than the Power pace. You’ll have a tougher time talking during this phase.3. Just like it sounds, this pace will be about 0.5 mph slower than Power mode, and it will give you a chance to catch your breath while remaining active.
Beginning on the flat, you’ll walk for 3 minutes and then increase the incline by 1%. Break up the 3 minutes by doing 2 minutes and 30 seconds at your Power pace and 30 seconds at your Challenge pace. Then raise the incline 1% and repeat. Continue this pattern until you reach 15%. As the incline gets steeper, plan to slow from a Power pace to Regular between the Challenge sections.
After completing the entire uphill trek (3 minutes on each grade until you reach 15%), you’ll drop the incline by 2% every minute, accelerating the pace from Regular to Power when the grade drops below 10%.
In table form, let’s take a look at the Ultimate Hill Workout!
0-2:30 0 Power (3.5-4.2 MPH) 2:30-3 0 Challenge (0.2 MPH faster than Power Walk) 3-5:30 1 Power 5:30-6 1 Challenge 6-8:30 2 Power 8:30-9 2 Challenge 9-11:30 3 Power 11:30-12 3 Challenge 12-14:30 4 Power 14:30-15 4 Challenge 15-17:30 5 Power 17:30-18 5 Challenge 18-20:30 6 Power 20:30-21 6 Challenge 21-23:30 7 Power 23:30-24 7 Challenge 24-26:30 8 Power 26:30-27 8 Challenge 27-29:30 9 Power 29:30-30 9 Challenge 30-32:30 10 Power 32:30-33 10 Challenge 33-35:30 11 Regular (0.2-0.5 mph slower than Power pace) 35:30-36 11 Challenge 36-38:30 12 Regular 38:30-39 12 Challenge 39-41:30 13 Regular 41:30-42 13 Challenge 42-44:30 14 Regular 44:30-45 14 Challenge 45-47:30 15 Regular 47:30-48 15 Challenge 48-49 13 Regular 49-50 11 Regular 50-51 9 Power 51-52 7 Power 53-54 5 Power 54-55 3 Power 55-56 1 Power
Only climb to 10% grade before starting your descent.
If you prefer the great outdoors to a treadmill, you can do a similar workout on a sidewalk or trail that gradually increases in grade. Match the 3-minute pattern of the Ultimate Hill Walking Workout by power walking for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, then doing your Challenge pace for 30 seconds. Once you reach the top, make your way back down and repeat. Plan to do 10 to 15 rounds of 3 minutes each, mixing in the Regular pace as needed.
By Brook Benten