I’m about to blow your mind. There’s one exercise you’re probably not doing that’ll change your life and give you immediate results.
Seriously. Walking is incredibly underrated. It’s become my favorite recovery modality by far. I know you don’t believe me, so I’ll give you an example from my own training this year.
Why Walking Works
First, some background. I’m a General Physical Preparation (GPP) athlete who desperately needed to add some mass to his frame. Currently, I’m nearing the end of a slow and steady cut after putting on 23 pounds this summer.
At my peak in the massing phase I weighed in at 193lbs and my daily calories hit 3600, including more than 500g of carbohydrates a day. I started my cut a few weeks ago with a two-week maintenance phase where I cut back my calories to 3000 a day and my weight leveled off to steady 190lbs.
My cutting phase started about 7 weeks ago at 2700 calories a day and I’ve been getting steadily leaner without having to cut calories any deeper than the initial drop. How? That’s a good question. Let me explain.
I’d cut out all of my conditioning during my massing phase. I didn’t do it overnight, but instead, I slowly phased it out in the first six weeks of massing. Well, I did the same thing in the cut. I very slowly started adding in a little bit of simple walking and then conditioning to my normal hypertrophy focused weight training.
I can keep my calories nice and constant and still build a steadily bigger calorie deficit so my body wouldn’t adapt to a particular input (2700 calories a day) which would force me to drop calories. It looked like this:
- Week 1: Reintroduce cardiovascular warm-ups for weight training
- Week 2: Walk to coffee (3 blocks), add a conditioning day on Wednesday
- Week 3: Walk to lunch (0.75 miles)
- Week 4: Walk to lunch and back (1.5 miles)
- Week 5: Walk to lunch and back and take another walk after dinner in the evening (2 miles total)
- Week 6: Add another conditioning day on Friday
Each week builds upon the last. Basically, I’m very slowly reincorporating conditioning into my training and the only thing I’m really “adding” is walking. I can’t think of a better, lower impact, and more mindful thing to do with my time.
And the cool thing is it’s probably the best recovery exercise you’re not doing for maximal muscle retention. You’re not going to be digging the recovery hole deeper with walking like you would with HIIT or running and the slow and steady approach to this cut means that I’ve maintained as much of the musculature I built this summer as possible.
In short, walking makes me feel good, both mentally and physically. It’s a time for me to recharge, to think about things, or listen to a podcast or some music and not think about things.
If you’re trying to make substantial changes to your appearance or you’re looking for a great recovery modality that won’t leave you feeling worse—try walking for an hour or so every day. It’ll be good for your mental and physical health.