Walking Backwards

burn extra calories & get a total lower body workout


Walking backwards is a great way to add variety to your fitness routine while burning more calories than you do moving forward.

Why does it burn more calories? Try it out for a minute and you will find that it’s not as easy as walking forward. You’ll have to focus carefully on each step because you’re learning a new skill and that requires extra energy and focus, which taxes your cardio vascular system, which in turn burns more calories.

In addition to burning calories and strengthening your heart and lungs, this form of exercise, also known as retro walking, strengthens different sets of muscle groups.

Moving forward works your hamstrings and your gluteus maximus (otherwise known as your rear end!). Walk backwards and you’ll strengthen your quadriceps and calves. By going in both directions, you’ll get a great lower body workout.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy to do. Start out slow. Remember, you are learning a new skill and you’ll need time to master it and feel comfortable.

Don’t worry about speed at this point. Just focus on your safety and where you are going! It can be tricky to constantly look behind you to check for pedestrians, trees, etc. If you can’t find a safe location outdoors, consider walking backwards on a treadmill.

Researchers conducted a study at the University of Oregon on retro walking and its benefits and found some exciting results.

The results showed that it can give your workouts a boost because it puts a greater strain on your cardio vascular system than forward walking at the same pace. That means you can burn more calories while walking backwards than you would moving forward.

program for beginners

The researchers from the study mentioned above recommend “5-4” walking, which is a sequence of five forward and four backward steps. Here is an outline of the steps:

1. Walk forward five steps

2. Balance briefly on the support leg as the swing leg direction is reversed

3. Walk backward four steps

4. Balance briefly on the support leg as the swing leg direction is reversed

5. Repeat

The time that you will balance on your support leg while changing direction should be 3 – 5 seconds.

Consider adding ten minutes of the “5-4” walking to your daily exercise and you’ll work all of the major muscle groups in the lower half of your body while burning extra calories and strengthening your cardio vascular system.

No fancy equipment required! Just move in each direction and you’ll add spice to your routine and improve your fitness results.

Source: Dufek, J.S., Bates, B.T., & Tritsch, A.: Backward Walking: Understand Function and the Associated Benefits

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