We gave the world's simplest workout a makeover and created a plan that takes walking— and your body—from ho-hum to va-va-voom. The secret behind our strategy: When you walk at a quick clip, you zap as many calories as you would jogging. Add in hills or stairs and you boost the burn while also increasing the sculpting benefits for your butt and legs. This easy-to-follow plan, designed by Shape's fitness director, Jeanine Detz, uses both tricks to speed up your results. "You'll see a difference in a month if you follow two rules," she says: "Make sure your brisk pace is just that—it should feel so demanding, it would be easier to break into a run— and always walk on a hilly circuit, which increases your calorie burn by up to 50 percent." Think of this routine as your walk 2.0—it's more challenging, more effective, and guaranteed to give you a leaner body by summer. Now step to it!
What to do:
Do walk 1 three times a week and walk 2 twice a week. Treadmill trotters, try to use 3.0 as your easy pace, 3.5–4.0 as your moderate, and 4.0–4.5 as your brisk. If you walk outside, your easy pace is the speed you move while walking around the mall, moderate feels like you're rushing to make an appointment, and brisk is so fast it's tough to talk. Use the recommended distance to calculate your route—actual distance will depend on your pace— and always walk for at least the total time listed. If there are no hills in sight, incorporate stairs into your session.
The first routine is for days when you're rushing to fit in a workout; the second is for when you have time to walk farther.
4 Tips to Get More from Your Walk
1. Check your intensity: To ensure you're moving at least at a moderate pace, aim to log a minimum of 4,000 steps on your pedometer within 30 minutes (that's about two miles, if you don't have a device).
2. Track your progress: Write down your daily total steps from your pedometer and challenge yourself to beat the previous day's count—you'll likely increase your number of strides by 10 percent (and up your calorie burn while you're at it), say researchers at Loughborough University in England.
3. Take it outside: Women who walk outdoors versus on a treadmill enjoy the exercise more and are more likely to stick to their routine, according to a study from Ohio State University.
4. Map your route: Studies show that people judge a steep uphill path to be farther than the same distance on flat ground, which can potentially discourage you from logging the workout you intend to. Preplan your walk at mapmywalk.com so you know exactly how far you're going. (The site also has a finder for scenic routes near you and paths to try when you travel.)
Want something a little tougher? Check out our ultimate hiking guide!