Speed Workouts to Walk Faster

Boost Your Walking Speed

Woman Powerwalking on Road
Brisk Walking. Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Do you want to boost your walking speed? You may want a better finish time for a charity walk or want to speed up to match the pace of your walking partner. As racewalking coach Dave McGovern says, "To go faster, you need to go faster." These workouts will help train you to walk faster.

Some walkers find it beneficial to do stretching and flexibility exercises after a warm-up and before they begin the speed portion of their workout.

Some also like to do stretching as part of the cool down. Research has not shown this prevents muscle soreness or injury, so it is optional.

Economy Workout for Faster Walking

This workout trains your muscles to expect that they will be called upon to give you a burst of speed at times. They will need to build the right type of muscle fibers and energy systems to do that. It uses short bouts of walking as fast as you can for 30 seconds, slow for two minutes, repeating eight to 12 times. It should only be done once per week.

Economy Walking Workout

  1. Warm up for 10 to 20 minutes at an easy pace.  
  2. Optionally, after your warm-up, stretch and do flexibility exercises.
  3. Walk at a moderate pace for 2 minutes.
  4. After 2 minutes, speed up to walk as fast as you can for 200 yards (200 meters).
  5. Slow to a moderate pace for 200 yards/meters (about two city blocks)
  6. Speed up again for 200 yards/meters as fast as you can.
  1. Repeat this cycle 8 to 12 times.
  2. Finish with 10 to 20 minutes of easy walking.
  3. Optionally, finish with stretching and flexibility exercises.

You can use a timing device or gauge your intervals by landmarks on your walk. Apps can be used on your phone or smartwatch to cue your intervals.

Threshold Workouts

These workouts get your mind and body used to high performance and helps build the better energy systems needed for sustaining faster walking.

They build mental and physical endurance.

Threshold workouts bring your body up to the anaerobic threshold at 80 percent to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. The anaerobic threshold is where the body tips over from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism. Your goal is to get right to the limit, without going over and producing lactic acid through anaerobic metabolism.

You should do two threshold workouts per week if you are training to walk faster. Note that it may be difficult for you to walk fast enough to get your heart rate up to the suggested level. You may need to use running for the harder work intervals.

To do these workouts accurately, you will need to be able to measure your heart rate. You can use a heart rate monitor, fitness band or smartwatch with heart rate detection, or take your pulse during your workout. Find the heart rate needed with a chart or calculator.

Threshold Speed Workout

  1. Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy walking pace. Optionally, you can stop for stretching and flexibility exercises before continuing.
  2. Walk fast for 8 minutes or 1 kilometer at 85 percent to 92 percent of your maximum heart rate.
  3. Then slow down to an easy pace for 2 minutes.
  4. Repeat this for 3 to 4 repetitions.
  1. Cool down for 10 minutes at an easy pace.
  2. The threshold pace is strenuous, but one you could maintain throughout a 6-mile/10-kilometer race. You will be breathing very hard and able to speak only in short phrases.

Threshold Steady State or Tempo Workout

  1. Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace. Optionally, you can stop and do stretching and flexibility exercises before continuing.
  2. Walk 20 to 30 minutes at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
  3. You will be breathing very hard and able to speak only in short phrases.
  4. Cool down with 10 minutes easy pace.

Walking Technique and Schedule for Walking Fast

Throughout these workouts, ensure you are walking with good posture and walking technique.

Be sure to use efficient arm motion, forward and back opposite of your leg motion.

It's a good idea to schedule out your workouts for variety and accountability. Start with a weekly workout schedule for faster walking.

Sources:

Herbert RD, Noronha MD, Kamper SJ. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. June 2011. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004577.pub3.

Leppänen M, Aaltonen S, Parkkari J, Heinonen A, Kujala UM. Interventions to Prevent Sports Related Injuries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. Sports Medicine. 2013;44(4):473-486. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0136-8.