This 4-Week Walking + Strength-Training Plan Will Boost Your Endurance

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Walking is great cardio but you also need strength training to balance it out.
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While there are a lot of dynamic duos in the fitness world, one stands out as a low-impact, high-benefit option accessible to almost everyone — walking and strength training. This combo delivers a low-stress endurance boost to your heart, lungs and other muscles at a gentle, steady pace.

"Endurance training is more than just putting in the long miles," says Rachel Nesseth Litchfield, doctor of physical therapy at RISE Physical Therapy in San Diego, California. "It can help your body learn to adapt and recover better by implementing a more well-rounded training regimen."

Benefits of Combining Walking and Strength Training

What makes walking and strength training such a powerful combination? For starters, a regular walking regimen can help you lose weight, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and boost brain health, according to a January 2019 study published in PLOS One.

But walking alone isn't enough to keep your body healthy. Adding strength training builds muscles that help support your bones, ligaments and tendons.

"Strength training (and weight-bearing exercise in general) is important for your health, specifically for muscle and bone development as well as helping with chronic disease management," says Steve Stonehouse, a trainer, coach and director of education for STRIDE, a national boutique fitness brand.

The two combined can help prevent injuries, slow down age-related muscle mass loss and sustain a healthy amount of exercise without burning out.

Your 4-Week Workout Plan

This month-long training program, created by Jonathan Smith, a certified fitness instructor and founder of iRobotFit in Los Angeles, alternates speed walks with strength-training days that get progressively longer and more challenging over time.

This series takes you from a light, 5-minute circuit and 10-minute walk on day one to a full one-hour walk by the end of four weeks with a gradual build that you'll barely notice day over day. Miss a day? No problem. The plan builds in one day off per week.

Tip

Scroll all the way to the bottom of this article for a printable workout calendar. Then you can cross off each day as you complete your workouts.

Week 1

  • Day 1: Cardio Circuit A + 10-Minute Walk
  • Day 2: Strength Training A + 10-Minute Walk
  • Day 3: Cardio Circuit B
  • Day 4: Strength Training B + 15-Minute Walk
  • Day 5: Endurance A + 15-Minute Walk
  • Day 6: Weekend Endurance B + 15-Minute Walk
  • Day 7: Rest

Week 2

  • Day 8: Cardio Circuit A x2 + 20-Minute Walk
  • Day 9: Strength Training A x2 + 20-Minute Walk
  • Day 10: Cardio Circuit B x2
  • Day 11: Strength Training B x2 + 25-Minute Walk
  • Day 12: Endurance A x2 + 25-Minute Walk
  • Day 13: Rest
  • Day 14: Weekend Endurance B x2 +25-Minute Walk

Week 3

  • Day 15: Cardio Circuit A x3 + 30-Minute Walk
  • Day 16: Strength Training A x3 + 30-Minute Walk
  • Day 17: Cardio Circuit B x3
  • Day 18: Strength Training B x3 + 35-Minute Walk
  • Day 19: Endurance A x3 + 35-Minute Walk
  • Day 20: Weekend Endurance B x3 + 35-Minute Walk
  • Day 21: Rest

Week 4 (+ Days 29 & 30)

  • Day 22: Cardio Circuit A x4 + 40-Minute Walk
  • Day 23: Strength Training A x4 + 40-Minute Walk
  • Day 24: Cardio Circuit B x4
  • Day 25: Strength Training B x4 + 45-Minute Walk
  • Day 26: Endurance A x4 + 45-Minute Walk
  • Day 27: Rest
  • Day 28: Weekend Endurance B x4 + 45-Minute Walk
  • Day 29: Cardio Circuit A x4 + 50-Minute Walk
  • Day 30: 60-Minute Walk

And here are the outlines for all the workouts you'll need:

Walking

  • Speed walk (don't wander or saunter) non-stop for allotted time, tracking steps if possible.

Stretching

Mondays: Cardio Circuit A

  • 25 high knees: Run in place, lifting your knees to your chest (do 25 on each leg).
  • 25 mountain climbers: Hold a high plank, while rapidly alternating which knee you bring up to your chest.
  • 25 butt kicks: Jog in place, bringing your heels to your butt as you go.
  • 26 arm circles: Standing straight with arms extended out to the sides, rotate arms clockwise for half the time, then reverse and rotate them counter-clockwise.
  • 1-minute wall sit: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about two feet out in front of you. Slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor as if you are sitting in a chair and hold.

Tuesdays: Strength Training A

  • 26 arm circles: Standing straight with arms extended out to the sides, rotate arms clockwise for half the time, then reverse and rotate them counter-clockwise.
  • 25 body-weight squats: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and squat down as if sitting in a chair, sending your hips down and back. Reverse the movement by driving through your feet and retuning to standing.
  • 1-minute wall sit: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about two feet out in front of you. Slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor as if you are sitting in a chair and hold.

Wednesdays: Cardio Circuit B

  • 25 push-ups: Start in a high plank and bend your elbows at your sides, lowering yourself to the ground, then extending your arms back to plank.
  • 30-second plank: Start on all fours, then press up into a plank — face down, hands directly below shoulders, toes on the ground with feet together, arms straight and back flat — and hold.
  • 50 high knees: Run in place, lifting your knees to your chest (do 50 on each leg).
  • 50 mountain climbers: Hold a high plank, while rapidly alternating which knee you bring up to your chest.
  • 50 body-weight lunges: Stand upright, then step your right foot forward, bending the right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor and the left knee almost touches the floor. Straighten back up by pushing off your right leg and switch sides.
  • 2-minute wall sit: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about two feet out in front of you. Slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor as if you are sitting in a chair and hold.

Thursdays: Strength Training B

  • 1-minute alternating side plank: Begin in either a low or high plank, then lift your left arm, supporting all your weight on your right side and rotate your body so your left arm is pointing at the ceiling and your body is perpendicular to the ground, then return your left arm to the ground and repeat on the right side
  • 25 push-ups: Start in a high plank and bend your elbows at your sides, lowering yourself to the ground, then extending your arms back to plank.
  • 25 sit-ups: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, your arms crossed over your chest or lightly supporting your head, then, pressing your lower back to the ground, curl your body up using your abdominal muscles until your shoulders leave the floor, then lower back down, or alternately perform your favorite sit-up variation
  • 25 body-weight squats: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and squat down as if sitting in a chair, sending your hips down and back. Reverse the movement by driving through your feet and retuning to standing.

Fridays: Endurance A

  • 1-minute plank: Start on all fours, then press up into a plank — face down, hands directly below shoulders, toes on the ground with feet together, arms straight and back flat — and hold.

Weekend: Endurance B

  • 15 body-weight squats: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and squat down as if sitting in a chair, sending your hips down and back. Reverse the movement by driving through your feet and retuning to standing.

Tips for Making the Most of These Workouts

Walking for exercise and endurance is not the same as taking a casual stroll. Fitness walking is faster-paced, usually between 3.5 and 5 mph, says Dale Santiago of NYC-based Rumble Training. "It can be better described as walking with determination, moving forward with purpose and control, as if the intention is to make it to a destination quickly."

Tina Klein, a coach and trainer at Life Time Sandy Springs in Atlanta, Georgia, recommends approaching walking workouts the same way you'd identify gears on a manual transmission car. Warm up in first gear and gradually increase your pace to second gear. After a 10-minute warm-up, shift into third gear. Speed intervals should feel like fourth or fifth gear.

And check your form. You should walk tall, keeping your head up and your gaze forward, Santiago says. You want to get your upper body involved, creating more momentum by swinging your arms naturally with each step. Relax your shoulders and bend your elbows to 90 degrees.

Print this calendar out or save it to your phone to keep yourself on track.
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