Walking workouts that will help you achieve your health goals with hill, treadmill, indoor and StairMaster plans

Walking workouts: three women walking outside fun
(Image credit: Getty Images / kali9)

Love walking? You’re not alone. New research by Flora has found that 41% of Brits have taken up walking in 2020.

This makes it the nation’s favourite form of exercise – and the reason it’s so popular is because it’s really easy. Want a walking workout? All you need to do is put on a pair of thebest women’s walking shoesand you’re ready to go!

What’s more, it’s not just aimlessly strolling. There aremore health benefits to walkingthan you may first think. “Walking is appropriate for people of all fitness levels and even those suffering with limited movement,” says Steven Virtue, fitness content and programming manager atTotal Fitness. “It promotes a range of movement to help keepjoints supple and engaged, which builds strength and increases mobility.”

That’s not all – your mental health will also get a much-needed boost. “Walking is a great form ofexercise for our mental wellbeing,” says Steven. “Low-impact exercises, such as walking, are particularly effective for stress andanxiety release. Fresh air and time away from our screens is essential when so many of us are working from home or spending the day indoors.”

Here are the top walking workouts, for whatever style of walking you enjoy:

1 Fat-burning walking workout: good for beginners

This four-week plan, created by celebrity personal trainer Hollie Philippa, promises to get those glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves moving. This will helpburn calories, torch fat and give you a toned, taut body. Hollie’s walking workout focuses on boosting strength and burning cals in her HIIT, hill and distance routines. All you need is you, yourbest waterproof hiking boots(if it’s raining!) and 30 minutes. Just make sure you have a day’s rest between each workout.

About this health-boosting walking workout:

  • HIITThese sessions will torch fat and cals, without the impact of running. Plus, adding in moves like squats and walking lunges will boost the burn.
  • HILLThese workouts will ramp up your cardio, while strengthening and tone your legs and bum.
  • DISTANCEClocking up the miles will shave off pounds and build endurance.

Week 1

HIITPower walk for 25 mins. Complete 20 walking lunges either side of this.

HILLFind a hill and power walk up it and then down. Repeat for 30 mins and count your steps using afitness trackerfor ease.

DISTANCEComplete a steady 30-minute walk. Count how many steps you do.

Week 2

HIITAlternate your speed between as fast as you can go without breaking into a jog and a brisk walk for 30 mins.

HILLRepeat the hill workout in Week 1, but increase your pace. (You can do this on a treadmill, too.)

DISTANCEComplete a 15-minute walk, then try to beat your time on the way back. (You should complete this in under 30 mins.)

READ MORE:5 things you need to know about Nordic walking before you start

Week 3

HIITIntersperse 20 walking lunges, 20 squats and 20 star jumps with 5 mins of power walking in between each set.

HILLAs an option, use a treadmill. Start with a warm-up walk for 2.5 mins. Then alternate 5 mins walking briskly on the flat with 5 mins uphill. For each uphill interval, increase the incline by one or two points. If form is slipping, reduce speed. Finish with a cool-down walk for 2.5 mins.

DISTANCEComplete a 30-minute walk and try to beat the number of steps you did in Week 1.

Week 4

HIITRepeat the HIIT workout in Week 3, but try to up the number of reps to 30 and increase the power-walking pace, without losing form.

HILLSet your incline to your highest elevation yet (or choose a hill with a steep incline) and every 5 mins try to increase your leg speed.

DISTANCERepeat the workout from Week 2, but try to improve your time.

2 Stair-climb walking workout: great for intermediates

Just simple tweaks to your existing walking workout can make all the difference when it comes to improving your health. “Including stair workouts and hill walking in your weekly programme will boost your fitness and increase muscle tone,” saystrainer Scott Laidler. “Plus, it can help increase strength and endurance and get that heart pumping, too.”

Routines in this four-week programme include a mixture of steps and exercises that will help boost your stair-climbing and uphill-walking prowess. If you don’t have access to a gym, just double up your outdoors workouts.

Week 1

Workout 1: Indoor treadmill

  • First, walk 5 mins at 2% incline, 4mph, jump off treadmill and perform 25 lunges.
  • Then, walk 5 mins at 3% incline, 4mph, jump off treadmill and perform 25 reverse lunges.
  • Next, walk 5 mins at 4% incline, 4mph, jump off treadmill and complete 12 jumping lunges.
  • Finally, walk final 5 mins at 5% incline, 4mph.

Workout 2: Outdoor stairs

  • Walk six flights of stairs (around 60 steps, repeating if you can’t find a tall enough set of stairs).
  • Next, walk down, then jump on and off the last stair for 1 min.
  • Then, walk four flights of stairs, missing out one stair on each step, then walk down.
  • Form a plank with hands placed on the bottom step and perform mountain climbers for 45 secs.
  • Walk up three flights, alternating between hopping up for three steps (hold on to the handrail) and walking up three steps.

READ MORE:Why women over 40 should never diet and exercise at the same time

Week 2

Workout 1: Outdoor hills

  • Select a medium-large incline. Walk up and jog back down hill for 8 mins; at the bottom of the hill hold plank for 1 min.
  • Lunge up your hill and walk back down for 8 mins, at the bottom of the hill shadow box (punch out alternate arms across your body) for 2 mins.
  • Alternate eight lunge steps up the hill with six side steps on each side and repeat back down.
  • Walk fast uphill and walk down slowly to finish.

Workout 2 : Indoor StairMaster

  • Warm up at intensity level 3 for 5 mins.
  • Step for 5 mins at level 5, leave StairMaster and perform weighted calf raises (hold a 2-5kg dumbbell in each hand, stand feet hipwidth apart and rise up on to balls of feet and back down) for 1 min.
  • Next, step for 5 mins at level 6, leave StairMaster and perform 20 squats.
  • Then, step for 5 mins at level 7, leave StairMaster and do mountain climbers for 30 secs.
  • Finally, step for 5 mins at level 8.

Week 3

Workout 1: Outdoor stairs

  • Walk ten flights of stairs (around 100 steps, repeating if you can’t find enough stairs). Walk back down.
  • Jump on and off the bottom stair for 1 min.
  • Walk six flights of stairs missing out one stair on each step and walk back down.
  • With hands resting on the bottom step, perform mountain climbers for 45 secs.
  • Alternate hopping for three stairs with walking up three stairs for the rest of the session, then walk back down.

Workout 2: Indoor treadmill

  • Walk 5 mins at 4% incline, 5mph. Jump off the treadmill and perform 25 squats.
  • Walk 5 mins at 5%, 5.5mph. Jump off the treadmill and complete eight burpees.
  • Lunge continuously for 3 mins on the treadmill at an incline of 5% and at a comfortable pace.
  • Jump off the treadmill and hold a squat with arms above head in Y position for 90 secs.
  • Walk 5 mins raising incline by 0.5 every 30 secs.

Week 4

Workout 1: Indoor StairMaster

  • Warm up at intensity level 3 for 5 mins.
  • Step for 5 mins at level 6.
  • Climb hard for 5 mins at the highest level you can do.
  • Leave StairMaster and perform 30 star jumps.
  • On StairMaster turn 45 ̊ to your right and climb at level 5 for 3 mins.
  • Turn to your left and climb at level 5 for 3 mins.
  • Leave StairMaster and perform plank jumping jacks for 90 secs.
  • On StairMaster pick the highest level for you, then skip a step as you climb for the rest of the session.

Workout 2: Outdoor hills

  • Walk fast uphill and lunge back down x 4.
  • At the bottom of the hill, perform 40 star jumps.
  • Travel up the hill doing turning squats. Walk back down.
  • At the bottom of the hill, shadow box for 2 mins with a squat every four punches.
  • Repeat turning squats x 2.
  • Forward lunge up hill with four jumping lunges every six steps. Walk back down and repeat x 4.
  • Finish walking with high knees up hill, walk back down and repeat x 2.

Walking Workout woman doing Lunges

3 Tough power-walking workout: ideal for those who want a challenge

Get faster, stronger and slimmer in just 30 minutes three times a week with this souped-up speed-walking workout by trainerChris Richardson from Zero Gravity Pilates.

Don’t worry if you can’t get to a gym. Instead of a treadmill incline, head for a hill and when it comes to miles per hour, think of 2-3mph as moderate and 6-6.5mph as very fast. The exercises are mostly self-explanatory, but for the farmer’s walk, take short, quick steps with weights on your ankles.

“Adding these to your walks will boost your muscles’ strength and endurance, as well asimproving your balanceand walking gait (the way you walk),” says Chris.

Week 1

Day 1:Cardio walk & strength exercises (outdoors if possible)

  • Walk 20 mins (moderate/2-3mph).
  • Single-leg calf raises x 20.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 30 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 20.
  • Bridges with exercise band around knees x 20.

Day 2:Incline walk (treadmill) & strength exercises

  • Walk 20 mins (moderate/2-3mph), incline gradient 2-3.
  • Single-leg calf raises x 20.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 30 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 20.
  • Bridges with exercise band around knees x 20.

Day 3:Speed intervals & strength training

  • Walk 18 mins (3 mins at 3mph, 3 mins at 4mph, 3 mins at 5mph).
  • Repeat x 2.
  • Single-leg calf raises x 20.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 30 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 20.
  • Bridges with exercise band x 20.

Week2

Day 1:Cardio walk & strength exercises (outdoors if possible)

  • Walk 20 mins (moderate-brisk/3-4mph).
  • Single-leg calf raises x 25.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 45 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 25.
  • Bridges with exercise band around knees x 25.

Day 2:Incline walk (treadmill) & strength exercises

  • Walk 20 mins (moderate/2-3mph), incline gradient 3-4.
  • Single-leg calf raises x 25.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 45 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 25.
  • Bridges with exercise band around knees x 25.

Day 3:Speed intervals & strength training

  • Walk 18 mins (3 mins at 3.5mph, 3 mins at 4.5mph, 3 mins at 5.5mph).
  • Repeat x 2.
  • Single-leg calf raises x 25.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 45 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 25.
  • Bridges with exercise band x 25.

Week3

Day 1:Cardio walk & strength exercises (outdoors if possible)

  • Walk 20 mins (brisk-fast/4-5mph).
  • Single-leg calf raises x 30.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 60 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 30.
  • Bridges with exercise band around knees x 30.

Day 2:Incline walk (treadmill) & strength exercises

  • Walk 20 mins (moderate-brisk/ 3-4mph), incline gradient 4-5.
  • Single-leg calf raises x 30.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 60 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 30.
  • Bridges with exercise band x 30.

Day 3:Speed intervals & strength training

  • Walk 18 mins (3 mins at 4mph, 3 mins at 5mph, 3 mins at 6mph).
  • Repeat x 2.
  • Single-leg calf raises x 30.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 60 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 30.
  • Bridges with exercise band x 30.

Week4

Day 1:Cardio walk & strength exercises (outdoors if possible)

  • Walk 20 mins (fast-very fast/5-6mph).
  • Single-leg calf raises x 35.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 75 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 35.
  • Bridges with exercise band around knees x 35.

Day 2:Incline walk (treadmill) & strength exercises

  • Walk 20 mins (moderate-brisk/ 3-4mph), incline gradient 5-6.
  • Single-leg calf raises x 35.
  • Farmer’s walk with ankle weights x 75 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 35.
  • Bridges with exercise band x 35.

Day 3:Speed intervals & strength training

  • Walk 18 mins (3 mins at 4.5mph, 3 mins at 5.5mph, 3 mins at 6.5mph).
  • Repeat x 2.
  • Single-leg calf raise x 35.
  • Farmer’s walk x 75 secs.
  • Jumping lunges x 35 secs.
  • Bridges with exercise band around knees x 35 secs.