A friend of mine recently told me he was “tired of the gym” and he asked me if he could get strong by walking. He had become disenchanted with weight training but he really enjoyed walking so he started pondering if he could strength train with walking instead.
First of all, I love his thought process. What he was using to build strength, he didn’t enjoy. What he did enjoy, he began wondering if it could use it to build strength. Do you see the beauty in that? That is a leap of beautiful thought. Some might call it a fantasy or a leap of faith at best. After all, how can walking make you stronger? Or better yet, how can “walking away” from traditional strength training possibly yield strength?
Second of all, YES. I told him, “yes.” Walking can make you stronger. To be honest, I believe walking is the one RESET and movement intended to make us strong and keep us strong. I walk regularly for strength training purposes. That is, my intent is to be strong and I purposefully set out to walk with the purpose of fulfilling my intent. Most of the time it is with a backpack or object of choice, but other times it is just with me sans anything else. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a strength training walking purest. Sometimes I walk for the sole purpose of getting to where I want to go. Well, maybe I am a purest because where I do want to walk to is strength. Get it?
Anyway…Walking isn’t all I do, but it does make for a big part of what I do. Does it work? I believe it does. Will it work for my friend? Yes, because he already believes it will. That’s why he asked the question. And if the mind believes something, the body will follow it.
Before you scoff too much, keep in mind that my friend and I aren’t talking about looking like a bodybuilder. We are seeking strength, the ability to live life well and do the things we want to do with ease. We are seeking to build and keep a body that feels good. We are wanting a body that is able to step up to whatever task, challenge or opportunity presents itself; a body that asks, “What’s next?” If the body of a sculpted bodybuilder should come from walking with intent and walking with a load of some type, then that’s great. But what we are really walking towards is the strength of ability. Being able is far more valuable than looking able.
Do I really believe walking is all you need to do to build strength? If you have a solid foundation of your Original Strength, yes. However, I also believe that curiosity, enjoyment and play are also extremely beneficial if not needed. If my friend hated the thought of walking for strength purposes, it would probably not be the best thing for him to do. It would still be beneficial, but he probably wouldn’t do it as often as he would if he actually enjoyed it. This is where play comes in. Do the things you enjoy doing. Explore the things you are curious about. The things you engage in with intent and enjoyment will yield huge results along the path of strength and wellness.
What I’m saying is, Yes, move the ways you are designed to move so you can be strong, but I’m also saying move in the ways you enjoy moving. If you own your Original Strength, you’ll always be pressing reset and moving the ways you were made to. But on top of all that, move in the ways you love to towards your intent of being strong.
I admit, I’m biased. From a movement standpoint, I believe walking could help make everyone stronger because it’s in our design. Heck, I even believe walking can actually help a person look like a Greek god carved out of granite. But from an individuality standpoint, I think a person needs to discover what they enjoy doing and how they enjoy moving. If traditional strength training fills your movement desires and outcomes, great! But if it’s not your thing, it’s probably not the best fit to help you accomplish your goal of being stronger. There are other ways that lead to strength – like walking, or crawling, or marching, or carrying objects, or yoga…
Anyway, part of the joy of movement is actually having joy in movement – doing things you love, things that make you smile, things that spark your creativity and beg your curiosity. It is those things, the things that move you, that strengthen you.
Move the way you were made to move, then find your way to enjoying the life you want to have by discovering how you want to move through it.