Fitness Articles

Walking Workouts with Intervals

Training Programs for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Walkers

This walking program uses intervals (short bursts of higher-intensity activity followed by lower intensity recovery periods), which can be a more effective way to train (and burn calories) than exercising at one intensity level. If you're new to walking or exercise, start with the Beginner program. As you progress, slowly increase your time and eventually move to the Intermediate and Advanced workouts. Because this is a general program, you may need to adjust the recommended speeds, intensities, and times to suit your fitness level. Be sure to refer to our Walking Guide for more information and resources for walkers.

Getting Started
Use the FIT (Frequency, Intensity and Time) Principles for a safe and effective workout!
  • Frequency: Try the walking workout listed three to five times per week, depending on your fitness level. Beginners should do fewer days, while intermediate to advanced walkers can safely do more.
  • Intensity: Walk at a brisk—not leisurely—pace. Don’t worry about what your pace really is, but do pay attention to your overall intensity, aiming for 5-7 on a scale of 1-10. You’ll find a full explanation of the 1-10 Intensity Scale (known as RPE) below the workouts.
  • Time: Try to follow the suggested workout guidelines to the best of your ability, which means that you'll gradually increase your walk time as you progress from the beginner to the intermediate and advanced interval workouts.
And remember, always warm up and cool down. Warming up at a slow pace will help prepare your joints, muscles and heart for exercise. Cooling down will prepare your body to return to a resting state, help prevent muscle soreness, and prevent illness and injury.

Beginner Interval Walking Workout

Intermediate Interval Walking Workout

Advanced Interval Walking Workout

An Explanation of Using the RPE Method to Measure Intensity
Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) may be the most versatile method to measure exercise intensity for all age groups. Using this method is simple, because all you have to do is estimate how hard you feel like you’re exerting yourself during exercise. RPE is a good measure of intensity because it is individualized—it’s based on your current fitness level and overall perception of exercise. The scale ranges from 1 to 10, allowing you to rate how you feel physically and mentally at a given intensity level.

An RPE between 5 and 7 is recommended for most adults. This means that at the height of your workout, you should feel you are working "somewhat hard" to "hard."

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Member Comments

  • I would think not everyone could even do this workout given with those high numbers on the side. perhaps its just a suggestion to go faster than what you think you can do...for outside its going to be hard, but just keep trying to do what you can do and if you feel like you are ready to drop over slow careful
  • Why is "extremely hard" less intense than "very hard"?? :D
  • If not walking on a treadmill, how would someone know what speed is what? -- Lou
  • Excited to get started on the next scheduled walking day!
  • I can't imagine trying to keep track of this, I would have to bring a clipboard and timer and keep stopping to figure out the next move
  • I am giving this a try again.
  • I have tried this before and liked it a lot.
    My only problem is living in a rural area where there are no leash laws and a pit bull who has made my walking workouts outdoors come to a halt!
  • Have my playlist set up similar to this . . . and love it. Have been using this method for 20 years.

    However, as was mentioned a couple comments earlier, health considerations (blood pressure, etc.) MUST be seriously considered.
    Decent program, would be nice if SparkPeople allowed an intensity level on their fitness section. I do a lot of water aerobics, but honestly my intensity varies. Would be nice to note this and up or lower calorie input.
  • If someone has high blood pressure or some other health concerns, pushing to 7 isn't the best idea.
  • This is a great exercise. It is simple to adjust the level of intensity l to any stage you are at in your exercise plan, Just listen to your body it will tell you. But remember pushing ourselves a little is the reward and how we loose those unwanted pounds.
  • The amount of time periods of fast and slow walking should take is not set in stone as some might suggest. It varies from one person to another, one day to another, and one terrain to another. Instead of memorizing some table and looking at your watch while you're walking, walk fast until you get tired and then walk slow until you're rested enough to walk fast again. I'd suggest mixing in some running too. And mix it up from one day to the next. Variety is good.
    This seems way too complicated to keep track of out of doors. How would you keep track of the time-look at your watch all the time? You would be tripping in potholes. How about a revised program using telephone poles as an indication of when to change pace?

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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