Here are 12 intense walking patterns to develop many different parts of the body.
Many parts of the body can be effectively strengthened without doing a single exercise! Just moving can be the cure for many problems (although we still believe mobility training is humongously important).
Here are 12 different walking patterns to develop different parts of the body. With many movement patterns you will effectively mobilize the hamstrings and glutes, while several other ones are great for developing the smaller hip rotator muscles of the hips.
For developing mobility and stability in the quadriceps and calves, the first walking patterns you find later in this article (ninja & thief walk etc.) could be the best you can find.
It is typically thought that letting your knee go past the toes is dangerous, but this is only true if your quadriceps aren't strong enough to support your weight!
These walking patterns will improve the strength, mobility and stability of your lower body very well. Just start slowly and cautiously - pick the patterns that feel easy for you to do.
In the beginning it will be difficult, but everything is difficult in the beginning. Stay consistent and everything else will take care of itself.
If you are interested in movement training, Movement 20XX is a great place to start. With over 53 flow movements (with tutorial videos), plenty of strengthening exercises and mobility drills and all the routines and workouts, it's the most comprehensive package available.
FOR QUADS & CALVES
Ninja walk is a superb walking pattern for developing the quadriceps and calves (both gastrocnemius and soleus muscles).
This one can be super intense: you take relatively long steps on your toes while you stay halfway down.
Try to fully extend the knee with every step. While the free leg is extending in air, the supporting leg is carrying your entire bodyweight!
The slower and more controlled the movement, the harder and more effective it will be. In the video you'll see that there is more than just one way to do the ninja walk.
Thief walk is similar to the ninja walk except here you are taking mini-steps forward while holding the halfway down squat posture.
Thief walk will primarily work the quadriceps and calves, but in a more stabilizing fashion with a lesser range of motion.
This movement is typically easier due to the smaller range of motion, but it's still tough and will work immensely well!
In the Frankenstein walk you take the low sissy squat position and start moving forward.
For developing the quadriceps, Frankenstein walk is one of the hardest and most intense movements you can do.
Your hip flexors and quadriceps are being heavily stretched due to the backwards lean. These stretched muscles will also need to stabilize and generate the forward movement.
Your calves are working hard because you are standing on your toes. Your lower back and glutes need to fire hard to provide support for the lower back.
Frankenstein walk is an excellent progression after you have mastered the ninja and thief walks.
Drag walk is an upright walking pattern where you are walking on your tiptoes.
You will be primarily training the calves (gastrocnemius muscle) but knees and hips need to stabilize as well. Focus on fully extending the ankle to really improve the stability and mobility of the calves.
Rooster walk is like throwing a front kick in martial arts but in this case it is a dynamic walking sequence.
The supporting leg needs to extend which will train the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. The free leg throws the kick which requires plenty of strength from the hip flexors and quadriceps.
Great walking pattern for martial artists to develop mobility in the lower body.
FOR POSTERIOR CHAIN
Chicken Walk & Toy Soldier
In the chicken walk you are bent over to 90 degrees or more and you are walking forward or backwards while keeping the legs straight.
Chicken walk will develop mobility and flexibility in the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. When you move the legs, your hip flexors are firing.
Toy soldier is a similar movement to the chicken walk: you walk forward with straight legs while simultaneously moving your arms. Here you are more upright but still bent over.
The purpose of the toy soldier walk is to train the hip flexors. Basically you are doing straight leg lifts with every step!
Cowboy Walk (on heels)
In the cowboy walk you walk forward and backwards on your heels. Cowboy walk may seem easy but it's quite hard to balance on your heels.
Quadriceps and calves are taken out of the equation and more work will be done with your hamstrings and glutes.
Your ankle muscles like tibialis anterior are also developed because they need to keep your feet pointing upwards.
Raptor walk is all about the spine: you are extending and flexing the spine while you move forward. Allow your shoulder girdle (scapula) to move freely with the movement.
When you take the steps, you flex the spine (round the back) and then do the opposite and return the spine to the neutral position (spine extension).
Try to keep your hips in place and focus on primarily moving the spine. Raptor walk takes practice but otherwise it's an excellent movement to develop mobility in the spine and even scapula.
Zombie walk is a killer exercise for the entire posterior chain.
Your entire body needs to arch which means your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back and even neck need to work hard to stabilize and maintain the posture.
Zombie walk is an excellent movement to improve your back bridge, but this movement is not for beginners!
FOR HIP ROTATORS
Hips Internally & Externally Rotated
In the knock knee walk (left) you are moving forward and backwards while keeping the thighs internally rotated (knees inwards).
This internal rotation of the hips will strengthen the numerous rotator muscles but also train your quads. Your ankle mobility is also worked.
In the boss walk (right) your thighs are externally rotated (turned outwards as much as you can) and you are moving forward and backwards.
The boss walk will work the external rotators of the hips (6 smaller muscles) but the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius as well. The ankle needs to stabilize laterally.