The Intelligent & Relentless Pursuit of Muscle™

Get Ripped. Get Walking.


Get Ripped. Get Walking.


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become a conditioning staple. But what about another simple but hugely effective fat-stripping activity, namely steady-state walking?

Fact is, for the typical T NATION reader that's muscular, lifts weights regularly, and looking to get a bit more cut, walking can be the perfect compliment to a rigorous weight lifting routine.


Pros of Walking

However, if on a diet and lifting weights, glycogen stores are depleted. If you add regular intense cardio on top of this, the body will release cortisol to help convert amino acids into glucose to be used as fuel. Those amino acids can come from your hard-earned muscle tissue.

Clearly, this is a problem for a muscular individual as whatever form of energy storage you have, you burn more of that particular energy store. Most Americans have considerable bodyfat, and the body is quick to burn that off once they get moving. But a muscular and moderately lean individual will have more muscle than fat. The body will see the muscle as "excess" and will preferentially burn that muscle to meet the caloric demand of the exercise.

Walking is pretty awesome but there are a few negatives. Here's a quick list:


Cons of Walking

Get Ripped. Get Walking.

I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of people reading this spend more than 3-6 hours a week watching TV. On a treadmill you could still watch that amount of TV and get lean at the same time.


When to Walk

Timing isn't super crucial when it comes to walking. If you just want to be fitter and healthier then walk whenever you can. The total duration doesn't even have to be continuous. If you want to burn fat, the best time to walk is in the morning in a fasted state as explained above.

The second best time to walk is right after a tough weight-training workout (the workout will have burned off a fair amount of glycogen, leaving your body ready to tap into fat), and the third best time is basically any time you can.


What to Do

Get Ripped. Get Walking.

The goal is to perform a brisk walk, often coupled with an incline, for a reasonable duration. The incline is a great way to increase calorie burning – a good goal is to find a level that allows you to burn 8-10 cals/min. You're still walking, so any muscle catabolism will be minimal.

You should be able to complete the exercise in full without stopping. If you can't, you're likely going too hard. The duration needed to promote the cardiovascular benefits and burn significant calories is usually 30 minutes or more. Certainly walking one mile (15 minutes) is much better than nothing, but it's walking 3 or 4 or 5 miles that will really start burning some fat, especially if performed regularly.

Listed below are three walking programs, but first, a few points:

  • Most can hopefully complete the beginner program relatively easily.
  • The intermediate program is likely the best program for the majority of readers to start out with.
  • The advanced program is a good program to work up to, particularly if you're under 200 lbs.
  • It's much better to start off with a program that's a little easy and let it progress than to start off with a program that's too hard. One shouldn't come close to failing on any of these workouts, particularly for the first month. If you do then you started at least one level too high.
  • Don't start in the middle of a program. Start at the beginning of it, even if you think it's too easy. If you can't complete the week 1 beginner walking program then you have to look in the mirror, declare yourself out of shape, and then get your butt in gear!
  • This program comes with a suggested frequency of four times a week. If you walk more frequently than that, just repeat one of the days of that week – whichever day you want. Note that each day there's often minor changes in the speed, incline, or time, so pay attention and try to follow the program as written. Little changes will add up significantly over time.
  • Don't hold onto the treadmill for any length of time.
  • Warm-ups aren't generally necessary, although if you need one feel free to use it. Cool downs are a good idea – cool down for 3-5 minutes at whatever speed and incline you prefer.
  • This program was set up for a treadmill so I could give precise speed and incline recommendations without having to worry about the weather. Walking outside is great; you get fresh air and sunshine and you see the birds and flowers and all that crap. The big negative is no regular incline, especially if where you live is relatively flat. You can compensate for this by walking with a 10-40 pound vest/backpack to increase the difficulty.

Rate your fitness level as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Use the following guideline:

Beginner Workout

  Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Week 1 3.0@1% 30' 3.0@1% 30' 3.0@1% 30' 3.0@1% 30'
Week 2 3.1@1% 33' [email protected]% 33' 3.1@1% 33' 3.2@1% 33'
Week 3 [email protected]% 35' 3.2@2% 35' [email protected]% 35' [email protected]% 35'
Week 4 [email protected]% 37' [email protected]% 37' [email protected]% 37' [email protected]% 37'
Week 5 3.4@2% 39' 3.4@3% 39' 3.4@2% 39' 3.5@2% 39'
Week 6 3.5@2% 41' [email protected]% 41' 3.5@2% 41' 3.6@2% 41'
Week 7 3.6@2% 43' 3.5@4% 43' 3.6@2% 43' 3.7@2% 43'
Week 8 3.7@2% 45' [email protected]% 45' 3.7@2% 45' 3.8@2% 45'

Perform cardio a minimum of four times per week, a maximum of six times per week. It's okay to perform cardio twice a day if necessary (with a maximum of six sessions per week). Try to burn at least 300 calories each cardio session if you choose not to walk. Bike no more than once per week.

Intermediate Workout

  Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Week 1 3.5@2% 35' 3.5@2% 35' 3.5@2% 35' 3.6@2% 35'
Week 2 [email protected]% 37' 3.6@3% 37' [email protected]% 37' [email protected]% 37'
Week 3 3.7@3% 40' 3.6@4% 40' 3.7@3% 40' 3.8@3% 40'
Week 4 3.8@3% 42' 3.6@5% 42' 3.8@3% 42' 3.9@3% 42'
Week 5 3.9@3% 44' 3.6@6% 44' 3.9@3% 44' 4.0@3% 44'
Week 6 4.0@3% 45' 3.6@7% 45' 4.0@3% 45' 4.1@3% 45'
Week 7 4.1@3% 45'+ 3.6@8% 45'+ 4.1@3% 45'+ 4.2@3% 45'+
Week 8 4.2@3% 45'+ 3.6@9% 45'+ 4.2@3% 45'+ 4.3@3% 45'+

Perform cardio a minimum of four times a week with a maximum of eight times per week. It's okay to perform cardio twice per day if necessary (with a maximum of eight times per week). Try to burn at least 400 calories each cardio session if you choose not to walk. Bike no more than once per week.

Advanced Workout

  Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Week 1 4.2@2% 35' 4.0@5% 35' 4.2@2% 35' 4.3@2% 35'
Week 2 [email protected]% 38' 4.0@6% 38' [email protected]% 38' 4.4@2% 38'
Week 3 4.3@3% 41' 4.0@7% 41' 4.3@3% 41' 4.5@2% 41'
Week 4 [email protected]% 43' 4.0@8% 43' [email protected]% 43' 4.6@2% 43'
Week 5 4.4@4% 45' 4.0@9% 45' 4.4@4% 45' 4.6@2% 45'
Week 6 4.4@4% 45'+ 4.0@10% 45'+ 4.0@4% 45'+ 4.6@2% 45'+
Week 7 [email protected]% 45'+ 4.0@11% 45'+ [email protected]% 45'+ 4.7@2% 45'+
Week 8 4.5@5% 45'+ 4.0@12% 45'+ 4.5@5% 45'+ 4.7@2% 45'+

Perform cardio a minimum of four times a week with a maximum of 10 times per week. It's okay to perform cardio twice per day if necessary (with a maximum of 10 times per week). Try to burn at least 500 calories each cardio session if you choose not to walk. Bike no more than twice per week.


Get Moving!

Fancy energy system workouts and complex lactic acid routines are fun and definitely effective, but they aren't mandatory if you want to get into great condition. The fact is, to get lean, you needn't look further than your own two legs. Walk, lift, and follow a reasonable diet, and the leanness will come.



PUBLISHED