A while back I wrote about discovering that Dr. Schwartz would (when he chose) squat every 10 paces while walking and taking his handweights overhead (“Level 3” or “Level 3.5” in “HeavyHands speak).
Previously I’d done sets of 20 squats while walking with HeavyHands, but always wondered how effective it was. I became fascinated with the idea of squats every few paces because, that way, the longer the distance the more knee bends are done.
In the midst of my experiments I re-read Schwartz’ “The HeavyHands Walking Book” his sidebar on page 13 “Preview of the Evolution of a Super Walk”. He noted that after developing a respectable workload with 2 or 3lb HeavyHands (though he often used heavier ones) it came time to maximize the leg aspect:
Lastly, you add more leg [to attain a “Super Walk”] in the form of knee dips, 0r semi-duck walks….That last addition of leg strength endurance, by itself, can amount to as much work as conventional walking without weights and dips is!
That was an interesting observation. Adding “duck walks” or “knee dips” could add enough to the overall exercise to double the value of walking without weights alone! I suppose doing a squat every few paces is the “ultimate knee dip”.
In my “experiments” I tried various walking modes. One time I wanted to see the effect of squatting without the weights. I let my wife carry the HH weights that day and walked and squatted every 15 to 20 paces. I find when walking with someone else who is not doing the knee bends, I get woefully behind which is frustrating!
Wearing my Polar heart rate monitor, I noted that this level of walking and squatting – without weights – resulted in heart rates approximately equal to a brisk pace with my HeavyHands! Naturally I expect to find (when wearing a heart rate monitor which I rarely do!) Of course adding the hand weight back and using Dr. Schwartz’ 10 paces should boost the training value even higher.
I don’t always know the distance I’ll be travelling so I’ve taken to counting the number of squats while trying to keep to the same number of paces between squats so I can better gauge progress. If I only have a short space to walk with my HeavyHands (one day I was walking laps to the street and back from the back door) I found it more effective to do sets of 5 squats.
If you’re used to doing squats either continuously to high numbers or in sets for high numbers (100 to 500) you’ll notice you can use the walk and squat method to do lots of squats without the “burn” of continuous squats. By doing one good form squat periodically, it should improve the safety of the squatting… one is more rested and warmed up between repetitions. One never “squats to failure” this way.
On the other hand, I wonder if I’m missing something by not doing relatively higher numbers at a time? I’ll have to test the “walk and squat set” method some too. Either way, I’m bound to be getting better results than walking alone.
As I mentioned previously, I’m a bit worried about walking lunges and “duck walks” for my use because of a pre-existing knee issue. I’d rather plant my feet securely then squat instead of doing so “on the fly” especially on the uneven trails I often walk. On concrete walkways, though, I’ve done “duck walks” for stretches. The “Walk and Squat” though is easier for me to keep track of because I can count squats every so many paces more easily than I can gauge the distance and form of my “duck walking”. (I’m not against it, I’m just not satisfied with how I’m doing it!)
Overall re-reading what Dr. Schwartz was thinking in terms of his goals for the “super walk”… one with maximum exercise value because it activated as much upper body muscle and leg muscle as possible… I’m more intrigued than ever with the “walk and squat”. If I lived in a home with stairs or even could exercise somewhere conveniently with plenty of stairs, I might tend to focus on those more. Under the circumstances, the “walk and squat” is becoming my “Go To” exercise when I’m not doing Kettlebell Swings. (I find the two go well together but that’s for another post).
I was going to write more about my latest experiment “Ski Walking and Squats” but that will have to wait for a different post too…
Thanks for reading. Your comments are appreciated.