Is walking suitable for building muscles?

Is walking suitable for building muscles?
If you want to train your muscles, you're probably most likely to use dumbbells or do bodyweight exercises. However, one of our favorite daily activities for building muscle is greatly underestimated: Intensive walking!

Walking: Cardio or more?

While walking is quite rightly known as a form of cardio exercise and has numerous known benefits for heart and cardiovascular health, regular walking is also a really great way to work the leg muscles and the muscles of the core. Everyone knows the good feeling of strained leg muscles that you can feel after a long strenuous walk. The reason for this is that the muscles in the legs do high-intensity work for a long time while walking. Even if the individual step does not seem difficult: walking is therefore such an intense whole-body activity, because ultimately the body is kept from falling over with every step. To make this possible, the interaction of hundreds of muscles is necessary.

This is how walking trains the whole body:

Walking provides a comprehensive workout for the legs and core muscles. All muscles must work together to keep the body stable and under control while walking. The quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals as well as the supporting spinal muscles are variably worked with each step.

As the leg is moved forward, the quadriceps and hamstrings are used to flex and push the knee off the ground. The calf muscles also work to extend the ankle and add momentum to the stride. Together with the thighs, they ensure that the foot is aligned with the ground and the shin turns inward.

Walking also trains the gluteal muscles

The gluteal muscles are also particularly important. It is one of the strongest muscles in the body and ensures that the body is stabilized during walking. Frequent and regular walking ensures that the gluteal muscles are strengthened in the long term. If you sit a lot, you can also damage your gluteal muscles in the long term.

Is walking on a treadmill also effective?

Walking on a flat and smooth surface is less demanding than balancing over a trail covered with roots and stones. Such a surface probably provides the optimal training stimulus because the body has to do extra work to compensate for the unbalanced surface, and the sense of balance is also trained in the process. However, when walking on a paved road or sidewalk, the difference is less pronounced.

Why a manual treadmill is better

However, there is a bigger difference between electrically powered treadmills and manual treadmills without a motor. The motor on an electric treadmill takes a lot of the walking off the user. On a manual treadmill the necessary effort is therefore about 30% higher. This also improves the training effect.

To combine the advantages of a manual treadmill with those of a natural surface, we at Walkolution® have developed the Kybun Special Edition, which is the only non-motorized treadmill on the world market that simulates walking on an uneven natural surface and does not require a motor.

Walking is an ideal complement to strength training

If you take more than 15,000 steps a day, you will achieve a profound training effect and you will also see a growth of the musculature. Likewise, supporting structures such as tendons, joints and other musculoskeletal structures will adapt to the new stimulus through adaptation, making you less prone to injury.

If your declared goal is to build a lifetime of really strong leg and core muscles, then big compound exercises like deadlifts and squats with a barbell are the best ways to achieve this. However, with both exercises, it depends a lot on proper technique.

It is best to start with these two exercises under the guidance of a trainer to learn the technique perfectly. As you progress, you can then do these two exercises yourself at home for life with little equipment. Daily walking provides an excellent opportunity for active recovery between your training days.

About the Author

Eric Soehngen, M.D., Ph.D. is a German researcher, book author, physician and specialist in Internal Medicine. With his company Walkolution, he battles the negative health effects that sitting has on the human body. 

Walkolution develops ergonomically optimized treadmill desks, which help to bring more movement into the daily work routine in the office or home office.


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