Mosier’s favorite interval workout is a pyramid. He recommends starting with a 10- to 15-minute warm-up of easy walking. This isn’t a casual stroll, but a focused pace where you could still maintain a conversation.
Then walk fast — at a clip where your heart starts beating faster and you’d be able to speak only in short sentences — for one minute, followed by one minute easy. Follow that with two minutes fast and two minutes easy, then three minutes fast and three minutes easy. Work your way back down again with two minutes fast and two minutes easy, then one minute fast and one minute easy, before finishing with a five-minute recovery.
Don’t want to worry about timing yourself? Make it a less formal Fartlek — that’s a Swedish term for speed play. Simply pick a tree or mailbox in front of you, walk fast until you reach it, then spend a few minutes walking at an easy recovery pace before selecting another destination.
6. Add some oomph with weights.
Walking already involves your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Integrating weights can further challenge those muscles and also recruit more of your upper body, Barrett says.
Toting light dumbbells or even household objects works, but she prefers 1- to 2-pound wrist weights (amazon.com, $ 12). That way, your hands stay free, your arms can swing naturally, and you minimize the strain on your hands and wrists that can come with gripping for long periods of time. Ankle weights, while great for mat workouts, can interfere with your knee alignment when worn walking and running, she says.
For an overall more intense workout, you can also wear a weighted vest (this one from Henkelion has reflective straps and a pocket for your keys; amazon.com, from $ 23), says Zmachinski. Or, DIY by stowing a medicine ball, dumbbell, or other objects from home, like books, in a securely-fitting backpack. Just make sure to keep the weight balanced — and that you’re comfortable with the (unweighted) moves before adding that extra resistance.
7. Tote along some resistance bands.
Prefer to travel lighter? You can still work in some strength moves by wrapping a stretchy resistance band around your wrist to have at the ready for some strength moves, says Curry. Better yet, take two — a small mini-band and a longer, looped elastic resistance band (you can always tuck them into a small fanny pack).
After a walking warm-up, pause at a park, parking lot, or playground (or even your backyard, if you are doing loops) for a quick band circuit. For instance: Place a mini-band around your ankles and do side-to-side monster walks. Lie down with it above your knees for glute-burning bridges. Sit down and loop the longer resistance band around your feet, hold it in your hands, and pull your elbows back for rows. Longer bands can be stretched over a playground pull-up bar or other sturdy anchor point for moves like pull-downs and tricep extensions.
8. Use elevation to your advantage.
Heading up hills naturally increases the intensity of your walk even if you’re moving at the same pace or slower. “A walking slope can be even harder than running,” Barrett says. Declines also serve their purpose, activating your core and strengthening your mind-muscle connection as you focus on each step.