Walking for Weight Loss Tips for Best Fat Burn
I see so many people out on the streets walking their dogs and themselves and believing that that exercise each day will shed those pounds. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen from the hundreds of women I’ve worked with over the years walking for weight loss has to be done with effort.
Here is what I learned from working with women looking for fast weight loss since 2005.
Read my article: Get Fit for Walking if you don’t think you can walk 45 minutes continuously.
The first half-hour of walking is warm-up
If you walk less than that, while good for your bones and your health, it does not give the fat burn you’re looking for.
Think of it like getting the kindling going. You need the kindling to be good and strong, but it’s the log that gives the big burn and warmth. After 30 minutes is like that log, big heat, long burn. Walking for weight loss should always be at least 45 minutes.
Heart rate plays the biggest role when it comes to success
We have played with this over the years. Granted I work mostly with obese women. A perfect group to learn how to do things right. The best heart rate zone to be in for weight loss seems to be 135-150 beats per minute. This is different from what the treadmill says and even your fitness coach. I’m just telling you what the data has proven over these past 14+ years. Under 135 or over 150 just doesn’t give the same burn.
Under 135 just isn’t giving you an aerobic workout. Over 150 puts you in anaerobic burn which is different from fat burn. Anaerobic is awesome for athletes, but when walking for weight loss you want to be in the fat burn zone.
For those with a resting heart rate under 55, a 125-140 heart rate zone works.
Remember it’s a range, not an average. You can download an app on your smartphone to check your heart rate. They aren’t perfect, but they are good enough.
Effort vs Speed
When women start working with me they always want to report and be congratulated on speed and distance when walking for weight loss. But that has never mattered. We have found that hiking and snowshoeing burn more fat. Why? It’s the effort.
If you are working on a treadmill. Don’t go for speed. Instead jack up the incline and lower the speed. Get to the right fat burn zone. Slower harder will give you the best results.
Some of the women I work with have a hard time getting their heart rate up. There are things you can get to help you like walking poles and weighted vests, but the best thing is to find some hills and walk them. A couple of clients have done speed walking to get to their goal weight. Snowshoeing seems to work best. Talk about effort.
Walking for Weight Loss is Better than Running
We have all these ideas about fitness. We look at runners and see who we want to be: Fit and thin with strong legs. It’s a dream for many obese women to one day run a marathon.
Running is great for the fit with strong knees.
For those setting out on a weight loss plan and have more than 30 lbs to lose, running can be your downfall. It’s tough on knees. One strained knee can keep you off your feet. And for most running or even jogging pushes the heart rate above over 150 bpm.
Getting Started Walking for weight loss
Get started by working up to the time you want to reach. Don’t go after heart rate, speed or even incline until you get the time in. Continuous walking time in the 135-150 heart rate zone, in the end, is what will get you thin.
Start at a pace you can do where you don’t exhaust yourself. I would rather you get 45 minutes a day at a mile an hour when you start. Once you get the time down, then you can up your effort.
- Make sure you have good walking shoes. If yours aren’t great, get new ones or get new inner soles.
- Start with multiple sessions a day that add up to your desire time
- Start slow. Make the time. Time is the hardest part of walking and yet it is the key to success
- Once you hit your time, up your effort by either upping speed or incline.
- Start adding minutes to your smaller sessions even combining them.
- Two sessions of 45 minutes or more each day is the best practice for weight loss, but if you can’t do two sessions that’s okay. We did some testing years ago and found that walking in two sessions over 45 minutes each session burned more calories than one session of the same amount of time.
- Always keep pushing to keep your heart rate in the 135-150 zone we use.
What to do when you can’t walk outdoors
I get exercise excuses all the time. The most noted excuse is about not being able to get outside. It could be inclement weather, kids napping, they’re at a hotel and it’s not safe to walk. So, we have an alternative, because face it, I hate excuses.
Leslie Sansome’s Walking Videos are a client favorite. She’s a little perky, but the videos are great workouts so once you get them down, just mute her and put on your own music.
Google her on YouTube for lots of free videos. The 5 mile walks are tough.
Add those with a mini trampoline and you get quite the workout.
Recommendations from Carlene
Most Important: Find good walking shoes and be prepared to get new ones every 30-50 lbs gone. Feet shrink as you lose weight. Walking shoes and running shoes are not built the same.
Heart Rate Monitor.
There are many brands, I’m not going to try and recommend a specific one. Clients have used their Fitbit watches. I think many smartwatches can take your pulse. If you have a chest strap one, great, use that, but if you’re going to buy one, get a wrist one if it works for you. Although, clients have always sworn by their polar chest strap heart rate monitors.
Or there are lots of health apps available for your smartphone. They use the camera’s flash to test your heart rate. How accurate are they? Close enough and they’re free.
If you don’t have hills and want to get your heart rate up, get walking poles. Mona, reached her goal weight with her walking poles. She and others swear by them.
Check out this Nordic Walking guide on how to use your poles for weight loss. It’s free on kindle.
Weighted vests are a favorite of clients. They help add weight especially as you lose weight as you work to reach our fat burn zone. Be careful when picking one, some are single weight while others have pockets where you can up and lower the weight. And don’t be scared to send it back if it doesn’t fit right or feel right when you walk.
When purchasing a weighted vest, make sure it’s adjustable for weight. Get the top weight you think you want to carry. Check that they have small 1/2 lb bags of weights that can be removed and adjusted to your needs.
Never use ankle weights.
Personally, I think a backpack with bottled water or bottled sand is perfect.