How to Make Walking Your Most Enjoyable and Flexible Fitness Activity

Walking is the least sexy exercise of all time, and it’s also one of our favorites. Which probably says a lot about us…

Now before you give a giant yaaaaaawn and click away, let’s get to some of the topics we’re gonna cover that might just be a bit different form what you expect:

Ok, honestly, the first few minutes probably start exactly like you’re expecting…, but then things start to get more interestingA few ways to sneak some walking into your routine, even if you live in the ‘burbs and there’s literally nothing within walking distanceUsing walks to improve posture and body alignmentThe best way to start incorporating breath training into your walksWhy we don’t have a blanket recommendation for shoesHow much loaded carries suck, and why they’re a big part of Ryan’s current training (now we’re getting to the good stuff…)The dead-simple way to add some casual loaded walking without going “full ruck”

In other words, this isn’t just 45 minutes of two guys saying “Um, you should walk some, it’s good.” There’s some real meat in this episode. If you’re already walking regularly, you’ll love all the different ways to make it even better for you. If you’re not, we hope to convert you.

Stick in in your earhole and hit the road.

Resources Mentioned:

Related Podcasts: Smart Cardio, Stay Fit While Traveling, How to Breathe Better for FitnessOfficial Studies: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking, Effects of Forest Bathing Art Of Manliness: Don’t Just Lift Heavy, Carry HeavyMore Ideas: Go Ruck

Transcript for Walks, Hikes, and Loaded Carries

Andy: All right, all right. Welcome to the Gene’s Mealtime Book Club Podcast.

Ryan: Oh, yes.

Andy: Today, we’re going to be reading about all kinds of good things to eat.

Ryan: Yes. You’re going to read us a passage of your poem book, is that correct?

Andy: I am. I am. We recently did a survey of some of our clients on our website about what kinds of content they would like to see, and 0.003% voted for my sonnets. So there you go.

Ryan: You’re pretty good at haikus, which are good, you do.

Andy: I was doing like a hundred haiku a day about 10 years ago. But-

Ryan: Yeah, you do-

Andy: … that got exhausting pretty quickly. There’s only so many haiku you can write about Indian restaurants and robots.

Ryan: Wow. Wow.

Andy: All right. So today, let’s get into this. So your 48th birthday was about six months ago, and you walked 48 kilometers that day.

Ryan: That’s correct. So we just-

Andy: Like a psycho.

Ryan: Yeah. So we figured out the method. That’s 30 miles for those of you who don’t know. Yeah. 48 kilometers. I walked that. I had to confirm, but it was eight hours and five minutes. So it’s pretty good pace, but I wasn’t busting ass. The thing is that I actually trained up for this. So it wasn’t like I just was like, “Hey, I’m just going to walk.” But one big takeaway from this. Well, there’s two big takeaways. I could do it. The other thing was that don’t walk on concrete. That’s just ridiculous. I had planned my big plan was to do this.

Ryan: There’s a mountain ridge that I love to hiking so much. But my wife asked me not to do that by myself. She wanted to make sure that I had a support team just in case something happened. So I decided to do it in our local park. But the thing is the paths were all like the concrete asphalt kind of thing. Anyway, while it was wonderful to do it, oh man, my feet hurt so bad the next day and not just from the walking, but again, because of the concrete.

Andy: Right. That’s the thing that any runner could probably tell you that-

Ryan: Oh, absolutely.

Andy: … asphalt is way more forgiving than concrete, and then trail is better, of course. But when you’re thinking, walking, you don’t really realize sometimes that it’s exercise, even if you are doing a longer distance walk for the purpose of exercise. You don’t think about these things. So today we’re going to talk about walking as exercise because it’s something that you love doing, that I love doing. It turns out a good number of our clients also really enjoy doing too. I think half of our staff goes for long walks daily.

Why Walking?

Andy: So we’re going to talk about why we like doing this, how to scale walking to be very light or a pretty heavy exercise for people that need it and also how to scale it so that you can always make it be one thing you can rely on so you just never get to say that you don’t have time to exercise. You can always fit in, as long as it’s not just completely pouring ass rain out. You can always fit in a few minutes of walking. So it’s something that’s really good for that. So let’s get into it. Just why are we such big fans of walking?

Ryan: Absolutely. One thing too I want to say, you already brought this up, but we’re going to be giving two examples of walking. So one example, well, there’s three examples, we’re going to be talking about shorter walks. We’re going to talk about longer walks. We’re also going to talk about weighted walking. So for those of you who are just like, “Ugh, walking,” we’ll be talking about heavy carries later in the talk here. So if that floats your boat, hang on, and we will be talking about that.

Ryan: So why should you walk? So there’s tons of benefits, and everybody knows this. We’re talking about heart health, lung health. There’s studies showing that it improves the immune system, big things, to be honest for me, all that, of course. But the two big things for me, creative thinking, and then also improving your mood. So these are huge. Andy, both of us, we love walking, and a lot of times we do our walks after some stressful points in our work.

Andy: Maybe just slight stress sometimes.

Ryan: Yes. Yes. So you need to clear your head, you get out and walk. This is just something that is actually easy to do, and it’s great. Because again, like we said, not just to clear your head, but also the creative thinking side of things. When there’s a particular thing that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, whether it be programming for a new GMB program, my own programming or anything else that I need to think about, I like to go for a walk. I don’t listen to music or anything. I just walk. I do know like that sparks some pretty interesting things when I’m able to just kind of like let it happen naturally without trying to sit in front of a computer and think and write on my notepad or anything like that. I just walk.

Ryan: So the studies on walking, of course, reducing anxiety, depression. Is it cure all for everything? Maybe not. But the thing is it is good. There are a lot of people out there over history and pretty famous people, as a matter of fact who have used walking in order to help with their creativity and do the things that we just talked about. So Steve jobs, Albert Einstein, Aristotle, Henry David Thoreau, one of my favorite, and then also John Muir. By the way, if you happen to be in California, go check out the John Muir area, do some hiking, and then just see the redwoods. It’s amazing.

Ryan: So walking. So we can just talk about walking around the city if you do live in this city. Great. Okay. But still going to get benefits from that. One thing that I like to do, and I really suggest if you can do this is to get out into nature, not just the fact of just walking, but the actual benefits of being out in nature without music, the sounds. It’s really going to change your mind in terms of-

Andy: It will literally change your mind.

Ryan: Yeah, literally change your mind. There’s just so many different benefits from that in Japanese. There’s a big thing, and this is kind of floating around over the past year or so, the Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to… It’s forest bathing. It’s actually not referring specifically to walking. It’s just the fact of being in nature but walking in nature. I can’t tell you how good that is for everybody to do that. I will say just quickly, if you’re going to go for hiking or anything like that, a completely different topic, but always tell someone where you’re going and always make sure that you know where you’re going. In other words, have a map and just be safe. Okay. So that’s the boy scout, the Eagle scout in me coming out and making sure, is that okay, you’re doing things right.

Andy: Yeah. I’ll also say that this goes equally for those of us who are hiking in urban areas as well. I have turned down wrong streets in cities before and regretted the decision. So you want to know where you’re going and have an idea of what areas are going to be safe and accessible for you.

Ryan: Absolutely. Just because we’re kind of on this topic, I think this really works well into a concept, an idea that we hold dear to our hearts here in GMB, and that is awareness. So for example, situational awareness, as well as spatial awareness also comes into play. So that’s why anytime you’re walking, and out and about, please don’t use your headphones. Please be aware and don’t have your head buried in your phone. Please be aware of your surroundings, situational awareness, what’s going on around you. Not just for safety, but also for the fact that it’s good to take note of what’s going on around you and simply be aware. Okay.

Benefits from Walking, How to Make it Effective

Ryan: So let’s go into a little bit about actual walking and some things. Why is it good? One of the reasons that I love walking so much is that it’s not going to drain you. So while I do like to jump rope a couple of times a week, even jumping rope, I don’t do for a very long time. That can be considered maybe my cardio workout if you will. Walking to me is one of those things where it can actually energize you when done right, rather than kind of tearing you down. It’s easier on the joints, obviously, making sure that you’re focusing on the proper gait, how you’re walking.

Ryan: Just a quick note on that, if I may, is the way that I like to… I don’t teach my kids, but I bring this up with my kid when we’re walking is, are you making sound with your feet when your feet are striking the ground? So in other words your foot strike. Similar to jumping, when I teach jumps, can you land quietly without making a noise. Just focusing on that is going to bring better awareness to how you’re doing it. As a matter of fact, it’s just going to help improve your posture and your form when you’re doing that. Later, you can get into actual different styles of walking that are going to be good for you.

Ryan: But basically, just looking up, looking forward. Again, don’t look down at your phone or anything. Look forward and take note of if your foot is making any noise when it’s striking the ground. So that’s really kind of good for that.

Andy: Yeah. There’s a lot of things that we could talk about in terms of carriage and posture and gait, and there’s books and courses on this stuff. There are professionals who their entire field of study is walking gait, right? This is the thing-

Andy: … that you can go really deep on. But if you are most people and if you are beginning to do this, especially, but even if you’ve already been taking walks but you’re just trying to think of how to make it more effective for you as a form of exercise, maybe even outside of cardio, one of the best things you can do in terms of paying attention to your gait and carriage and posture is just the things that Ryan just mentioned. One, keep your gaze at level or maybe even slightly above. If your head is tilted down, it’s going to pull your posture forward, and it’s going to change your gait. If you’re looking at the ground, then it’s going to change your experience and awareness of what’s around you, but looking up keeps your posture up, right?

Andy: The other one is then just paying attention to your footfall and trying to have that be light and smooth and maybe if not silent, depending on surface and footwear, fairly quiet and controlled, at least. That will force you subtly to put less pressure on your joints, and it will actually straighten out your gait and your posture a lot by itself. If you just have your eyes up, which keeps your head up and focus on a quiet footfall, then a lot of those things are going to be… It’s really like the 80%. It’s going to get you most of the way there as far as a good technique, as you would, for walking.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. One other thing just doesn’t feel good, and I think that’s the other thing. Like Andy just said, it’s so many different ways that we can look at this, so many different styles, depending on if you’re carrying something, if you’re not, if you’re going for a long distance, what’s the goal. But really, does it feel good? When walking, something I really focus on is not looking at it as exercise. So my walking is not because I need to burn calories or because I’m trying to get my cardio in or anything like that. For me personally, whenever I’m going on a walk is for enjoyment. Now, there’s going to be benefits, of course, and it’s kind of similar to the way that I do things, well, everything here in GMB, where if I’m doing locomotion, I’m doing it for the fun of it.

Ryan: The things that come out of it are simply byproducts of me enjoying the process. So that’s kind of how I look at this. Now, there are certain things that I do do depending upon that day and every single day is different. I don’t map out my walks or anything like that, except for when I did my very, very long walk because I was trying to focus on pace, and I had a specific goal in mind. But now, when I’m doing things, I just go out and I walk. Usually, I try to aim for just an hour. During that time though, there’s, again, some certain things you can do. You can look at tempo. You can also look at breathing patterns.

Ryan: Now, we covered breathing in a whole other podcast. But one thing I like to use the oxygen advantage, when walking, I’ll do this from time to time. It’s very simple, just focus on nasal breathing. Then at certain points during walk, you can just do a natural exhale and just hold your breath while you continue to walk. That shouldn’t be labored in terms of holding your breath until you pass out. You don’t want to get to that point at all. You’re just holding your breath for a duration of time and then naturally returning to your breathing pattern through your nose, and then you can just continue doing that. That alone, it’s really going to change the way that you’re walking.

Ryan: I mean, it’s big in terms of, wow, things just got kind of tough. You haven’t even changed your gait pattern. You haven’t changed your tempo or anything. Literally, it’s just using natural breathing and just holding the exhale and just repeating that and big-

Andy: So just to make that a quick step-by-step thing for anyone who’s never done this before, definitely listen to that podcast episode. But it’s very easy. You walk and then you just focus on breathing through your nose, same regular breathing, but through your nose. Then if you feel good, then exhale and then hold it for a few more steps, then inhale again. When you return to the feeling where it’s natural again, where you can do the same thing, exhale, hold it, walk again.

Andy: Then you’re not trying to force this over and over. You want to return back to where you feel natural and good again. Then gradually over time, you can extend the length of those holds. Right? That’s all you need to do. Doesn’t need to be anything more fancy than that.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s good. I mean, yeah. I typically only do this when I’m by myself. So if I’m out with the kids and my wife, if we’re walking, I don’t really do that. But this is something I do from time to time. I really enjoy it. For those of you have heard before, that I really, really like Oxygen Advantage. Check it out if you haven’t. Yeah, that’s it for that.

Build Walking into Your Life

Ryan: The other thing too, really, I think is rather than maybe just saying, “Okay. I’m going to go on a walk every day for an hour or something like that.” Hey, let’s just walk more throughout the day. This is very easy for Andy and I to do. If you live in a big metropolitan area, it might be your standard every day because you might not have a car.

Ryan: But for those of you who use your car for everything you do, maybe if you could just try and see about walking a bit more. I’m not asking you to go, walk three miles to the grocery store, carry out your groceries. That would be a pretty amazing workout. I’m just going to say, “Hey, where’s some points during your day where instead of doing this way, maybe you can incorporate a bit more walking into your day?” An example, my parents originally from Wichita, Kansas, they live in Wichita, Kansas, and they drive everywhere. You kind of have to, right? But whenever they come to Japan, they always comment. They’ve been here so many times, but they’re always just like, “Oh, we walked so much when we’re here.” We’re not even sightseeing at all because they’ve pretty much seen it all. It’s simply walking to the store, walking around the neighborhood, just that’s it.

Ryan: So just adding in these little walks here and there really add up over the day. Now, this comes down. There’s a big popular thing. Get your 10,000 steps in. I think that’s great. Again, by having a little Fitbit or a watch, or even you can track this on your phone, giving you feedback is going to allow you to become more aware of actually how far you are working, or pardon me, walking. The thing that I think is that similar to counting calories, if you will, it’s good to do that in the beginning to know where you stand and where you might need more calories or even less calories, or in this case, how many steps you’re actually taking. But rather than just really focusing on hitting a certain number, if you can instead do what I just mentioned earlier in terms of just trying to walk a bit more each day, you’ll find that you will end up getting those steps or maybe even more, and it’s a natural way of doing it.

Ryan: It just becomes a good habit. So this is something where you, you walk to your office today, you walk home, and you go to the cafe and things like that. Same with me. This just becomes a natural part of your life. So you don’t keep having to check your Fitbit to make sure you get in your 10,000 steps each day.

Andy: Right. Now, just real quick, if you live in the suburbs, this is not a thing that’s nearly as easy to do.

Ryan: Absolutely.

Andy: I mean, you can walk around your neighborhood. You can walk to the park or something maybe or a convenience store or something. But it might be hard when we say fit it into your life to do without making some excuse to walk. So a couple of things that I’ve heard from people that have worked for them is get a Bluetooth headset, and if you’re on the phone, take a walk while talking with somebody. Another one is you can also subscribe to podcasts for news instead of TV and walk while you listen to the news or audiobooks, that kind of thing. A lot of people really like… We were talking about awareness and not being zoned out listening to something while you walk.

Andy: But if you’re just trying to get started making an excuse, making a reason or a way for yourself to be able to get outside, when you don’t have a destination, then take advantage of these things, at least for the short term. You can either keep up with them or decide that you don’t want to do that anymore. But find anything where you say, “Well, I don’t have all of these things close to my house I can walk to.” That’s fine. Just walk around your neighborhood and maybe give yourself some other excuse of a thing to be doing while you do it, phone calls, podcasts, audiobooks, that kind of thing. That’s great. That’s still better than just doing those things sitting in a chair somewhere.

Ryan: Heck yeah. Yeah. That’s really good. Yeah. So just try and walk a bit more during the day. The other thing though, I do like to get in my long walk each week. I mean, that’s just me, and this is what I’ve done for a very long time. Used to be in the form of a hike somewhere. Lately, I haven’t been able to do that with the whole COVID thing going on, but still been trying to get out now that we can kind of get out and about, and this is where I’ve been doing this with my kids and my wife, and we’ll go out again. It’s just an hour.

Ryan: But I don’t think about pace because obviously, they don’t walk as fast as I do. So I have to slow down a bit. The thing is, is when I’m able to reframe it, instead of thinking of it, “Oh, I got to get my workout in,” it’s spending time with the family in that case. So just enjoying being there, being aware of what’s going on. We have some pretty funny conversations along the way, too. So it’s a good kind of family bonding thing. Yeah.

Ryan: So walking, there’s so much more we could talk about it. But really, my big thing is to simply do more of it, and that’s really it. Don’t think about it as exercise, unless really you want to, and in that case, great, good for you. Good on you for doing that. But just do more of it. Again-

Andy: Can be just a casual enjoyment sort of thing too.

Ryan: You don’t need to worry about recovery and things, which are really cool. That’s what I like about.

Andy: Right. Yeah. There’s lots of fitnessy reasons to walk. If that’s what you need to motivate you to start doing more walking, then that’s cool. But I think beyond that, the fact that walking is enjoyable and just easily doable almost any time and just a pleasurable thing to do is one of the things that can keep you doing it. So that’s what we like to focus on. We brought this topic up with our sort of Facebook group podcast, and it was really interesting to see a lot of people also taking long walks. Really interesting. A couple of people mentioned about environment and when you move from one town to another, and maybe it’s easy or more difficult to have more walking in your day. Absolutely.

Andy: Also, what’s your family situation? If you have kids, how old are they? How much time do you have to be outside alone by yourself? I used to strap my daughter on my chest and walk all over Honolulu, you know?

Ryan: Yeah, man.

Andy: But there’s a lot of things. The other one that was brought up, it’s just like this full body integration. All of your joints and muscles and alignment and everything working together and coordinating, it makes it just a really good activity for your body. So yeah. If you’ve got questions about anything that you’re listening to on the podcast and you want us to actually pay attention to them, the best way to have that happen is to join our group on the Facebook. It’s not a passive thing. We ask you to participate. So you’ll have to answer questions. Every week we decline about 25 to 30 requests to join the group from people that don’t follow the instructions. So please pay attention, and yeah. Yeah.


Ryan: Real quick. So I know people ask me this on Instagram and stuff all the time like, what kind of shoes do I wear?

Andy: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell us about your important walking shoes, Ryan?

Ryan: It’s so important. I’m actually sponsored by this huge… I’m just kidding. No one sponsors me. This is what I have to say about this. Just find some shoes that are comfortable for you. I mean, people have asked me, “Why don’t you wear minimalist shoes and things like that?” Well, I’ll be honest, I mean, after my ankle break, I kind of needed to change things up. I had a lot of trouble wearing minimal shoes. I used to wear those all the time. Nowadays I have a little bit of padding in there, but I always have a zero drops sole in my shoe, and it really doesn’t matter what I wear.

Ryan: Again, it comes down to what’s comfortable for you and actually what you like to wear. I do like Astral shoes. I don’t know if anybody’s ever heard of those. Just something that I really like. Yeah, that’s about it. Let’s get into-

Andy: Yeah. Also, just to say too, with minimal stuff, if you have to wear clunky, uncomfortable, non-ergonomic shoes for work all day, then yes, minimal shoes might be an excellent thing to think about in terms of being the opposite of that. Right? But Ryan and I, especially, we’re barefoot most of the day.

Ryan: All the time. Yeah. Sorry to interrupt. Literally, the only time I wear shoes throughout the day, I can tell you, it’s not even five minutes because well, unless I’m walking for an extended period of time, but it’s going from the gym to home right now. It’s five minutes wearing shoes.

Andy: Yeah. That’s it. So for us, why don’t we wear minimal shoes? Because there’s absolutely no point in spending more money for shoes that look uglier when we wear them for literally the one hour a day we’re taking a walk.

Ryan: That’s right. So that’s actually why I do have walking shoes. So if someone sees me wear a certain brand of shoes or something like that, it’s specifically because I’m using those because I walk. So that’s it. That is it. Let’s move on.

Loaded Walking

Ryan: Let’s talk about a different style of walking, and this is-

Andy: Loaded walking.

Ryan: … loaded walking. Well, man, I love this. For years, I’ve just done this. It’s not something that we talk a lot about, even at all in GMB, except in a podcast. It’s not like we have it in our programs or anything like that. But again, this is something that I do and I have done over the years and something that really I think everyone should do from time to time, and that is just carry heavy shit. So Dan John, I mentioned him numerous times before, but I love this guy. He’s got some solid stuff and pretty much anything he says you can listen to and believe, which I like. It’s just cool. He’s a big proponent of carrying heavy stuff, not just odd objects, but just anything.

Ryan: So really, the big thing it comes down to is, okay, so why? Why should we be carrying heavy stuff, and what’s the benefit of doing this? How much should we be doing it, and yada, yada, yada? So the main thing really is just to kind of first paint a picture in your head. So we’ve all done this, where we went shopping, and we bought a lot of stuff, went to grocery store, and we bought a lot of stuff, and we got to unload the car. We don’t want to make two trips. We gotta carry everything in one trip. So you’ll move up everything.

Andy: Hell no, man. No, man.

Ryan: You grab all your bags. Come on.

Andy: And hanging stuff off my elbow. I’ve got two bags tied around my neck. No way I’m going back to the car.

Ryan: Exactly. You jerks. Well, I’m sure we’ve all done that, and going into the house, maybe it was only like… I don’t even know, like 10 feet maybe. But you’re like, “Holy crap, this is pretty heavy.” Thing is, though, that’s an odd object kind of carry, and this is what we’re talking about. Another great example, if you have kids out there, when your kid falls asleep and you got to carry him to bed or something like that, boy, I tell you what, that dead weight, if you will, that’s pretty heavy or the kid moving around when you’re trying to carry him. So this is a great example of what I’m talking about when I’m talking about carrying stuff.

Ryan: Now, when you actually practice this because it is a form of practice, skilled practice, I don’t suggest using something that is going to be moving around a lot, and that’s going to be very awkward in the very beginning. So first, learn the skill and get good at it and then gradually ramp up to being able to do heavier stuff. Like everything, again, skill acquisition, start it with the foundation and build up. Now, the thing is, why is this good? Lots of different reasons. So what’s going on here is that this is very different than simply doing bench press, dead lifts, squats, where it’s a very controlled and very, for lack of a better term, maybe… Oh, let’s see. What’s a good word, Andy?

Andy: It’s very limited and takes-

Ryan: Yeah. You’re not moving around. You’re moving, but you’re not moving around. So that’s-

Andy: You’re moving one part of your body or a certain system of joints but not the rest of the body as much. Right? It’s moving in a very straight line within a very tight bounded path. Right? So what you’re getting is your resistance is really only targeting one sort of set of muscles and joints, which is… Also, in bodybuilding, I mean, there’s variations on the bench press that are designed to even more tightly target that, right? That’s kind of what you’re trying to do. But when you’re carrying a load and walking, what you’re doing is that load is moving in ways that impact all of your joints. It’s your grip, your forearm, your elbow, your shoulder, the shoulders connected to the spine bone, connected to the hip bone, connected down through, into the ankle bones. But everything is being impacted by the movement of that load and the movement of your body as you carry the load. So it’s not a linear thing. It’s not limited to just a small subset system of your joints.

Ryan: Thank you. Yeah. Having a lot of brain farts today. So thanks for jumping in there. So-

Andy: Too many brain beans.

Ryan: Right. Locomotion. This is what we’re talking about here. Okay? While under load, that’s what it is. The time under tension is also another factor here. So it’s not, again, simply going through a single plane of motion and repeating a particular exercise. Yes, you’re walking, you’re repeating the exercise in terms of locomotion. But the fact that you’re having to hold onto something and focus on posture, focus on gait, focus on gaze while holding, squeezing, raising, having one thing on the side, you’re going to be taxing your cardio, breathing is going to be tough. Really everything coming into play here is wonderful. So core strength as well is phenomenal.

Andy: Absolutely.

Ryan: The big thing about this, and I don’t like saying this because I think everything is functional, but this to me really is a great carryover for everything in life. So going into kind of what we’re going to be talking about, there are different ways of practicing this thing that can be directly related to the certain things that you need in your life. So for example, practicing the farmer carries, okay, could be something. So basically, the way to think about this is you simply have equal weights in both hands, and you walk. So you can have two 25-pound dumbbells, plates, kettlebells. It doesn’t matter. You’ve got equal weight on both sides and you walk. Okay?

Andy: Two sacks of Hormel, chunky franks and beans.

Ryan: Hell yes. It could be two bags of groceries, semi equally, on the sides, but see that security over them gaining out. So it’s not just like, “Okay. We’re just going to lift this stuff because we’re trying to get bigger muscles, or we’re trying to do X.” It’s truly going to carry over to everything that you’re doing in life. Another example, for example, are the suitcase carries. So instead of holding on with both hands, only one hand is holding onto something. So now, what’s going on? Well, you have to make an adjustment in your body.

Ryan: So you have to focus on what’s going on with your shoulder on that one side. You have to pack that shoulder to make sure that you’re able to actually hold it without your shoulder ripping out. Okay? Your grip is going to be heavily taxed. The thing is, is your core is going to be on fire because it has to distribute that, and one side’s going to take the load, because again, it has to have equal distribution for that load, even though the load is only on one side. Plus you’re walking, and so you have to find that balance. Every time your leg hits the ground, it has to find that balance again. So, so many different things that are going on.

Ryan: The other thing too is sometimes I like doing this, I’m careful when I do it, of course, is that I’ll do these farmer… pardon me, suitcase carries, and I’ll purposely rotate my body to put the weight down and then twist my body again to pick that weight up. So here’s another example of where you’re getting in further strength work, strengthening the core by focusing on rotational strength as well. So lots of different stuff going on when you’re doing that.

Ryan: So that was an example of farmer carry and a suitcase carry where you’re doing it that way. Some other examples that I love to do is a sandbag squeeze carry. So just think of just hugging a big, heavy ass sandbag and just walking. If you’re a martial artist, if you do judo, if you do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hopefully right away, you can see the carryover for that, whether it be rear naked choke, being able to just get your grips in, get your seatbelt as you’re going in for a backtake and being able just to hold on and squeeze. The other thing too is being able to breathe comfortably while doing that. So that’s a huge thing too. That’s one example, sandbag squeeze. I like to do that.

Ryan: The other thing is a sandbag curl, and I’m not talking about literally curling it, but holding that top position of a curl, but you’ve got that sandbag, you’re holding it. So it’s kind of like a curl hug, and there might be a proper way to say that I don’t know. But anyway, it’s just simply kind of bringing it up in front of you on your chest and having your arms up as if you’re doing a big curl and walking. Again, this sucks. I mean, these are not fun movements to do. All right? But the thing is, this to me is going to equate to what some people called farmer strength.

Ryan: So the old days when you’re throwing bales of hay, when you’re out there digging, when you’re just having to carry heavy shit and just do work. What this is doing is not only building the body. It’s building resilience. It’s also building mental fortitude because this is one of those things where you are literally, when you’re doing it like, “Oh my God, this really kind of sucks.” But you keep going for a little bit. The thing is-

Andy: There’s physical toughness, but there’s a real mental toughness because I don’t think any construction worker is going to say how much they love digging ditches.

Ryan: Oh, exactly. Right? But they do it, and they get that work done. It’s also similar to… Because I’m from the country, back there, you see a lot of guys, when I was growing up, the actual farm boys. I wasn’t a farm boy. But they’re farm boys who they didn’t do any other weight lifting or anything like that. They step on the football field, and they just fricking dominated. Those are some tough mofos because they did all this work. Then when they start lifting weights, they get just huge, which is, they just get-

Andy: Just get absolutely massive. Yeah.

Ryan: They’re just heavy. But there’s a thing to be said about that kind of strength. So that’s why I think these are great. There’s some other things that I like to do. I’ll put on a weight vest, and I’ll put on a heavy backpack, and I’ll just walk around. For example, in the military, if you’ve ever been in the military and call that rucking and probably back some bad memories, but the thing is, it’s like, can you haul heavy shit over a long distance? That’s it. There’s nothing tricky to it in terms of doing it a particular way because your body figures out what it needs to do in order to do it. You just get the work done.

Ryan: Again, you’re going to be getting stronger. It’s going to be that functional real-world strength, I hate saying that, and then also that mental fortitude. So to be honest, really, that’s kind of, for me, where that’s at. Andy you know this about me. But I like to challenge myself, and I like to know like if shit hits the fan that I am capable and I can do it. So that’s why certain things like this, if I need to carry someone, if heaven forbid, something happened, I want to be able to move a person, move a thing, or do the certain things that I need to do.

Ryan: I don’t train these all the time. I only train them from time to time. But over the years, I’ve been able to get to a point where I can perform these certain things. Again, it’s skill. By knowing this, it does bring confidence in knowing that you can do these certain things.

Andy: Yeah. My first job in high school was working for my father’s company as a plumbing assistant and carrying 10-foot lengths of cast iron pipe up and down stairwells.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: It didn’t get me jacked or nothing, but I developed a certain amount of skill with being able to manipulate objects, being able to move a thing, find where something has leveraged and outside of any kind of strength building or whatever, even just that is just extremely valuable. I know I can move just about any object.

Ryan: Yeah, and that’s the thing, it teaches you how to not just power through it, but actually how to do it in a way that it’s possible. I like that too. It’s kind of like skill building in terms of problem solving and things like that. So how do we track-

Andy: Also frequency and duration programming for loaded carries.

Programming for Loaded Walking

Ryan: Yes, programming. Let’s get into the program. Well-

Andy: Because it’s very technical and complicated.

Ryan: Yeah. This is very technical there. This is the way I like to do it. There’s tons of different ways… If you were just wanting to do a full cycle on this, then you could actually do this a couple of times a week. Dan John mentioned this too. This isn’t something where you might even want to do a couple of times a week. Once a week, good enough. So one thing that I actually like to do, and it depends on my cycle of course of what I’m going through is I’ll use it as a finisher. So I’ll do my workout, and at the end of the workout, I’ll just be like, “All right, I’m just going to fricking carry something heavy for five minutes.” I might not even make that five minutes because I’m just like, “Oh man, I did it. I’m dead.” You know what I mean?

Ryan: It’s just like one thing. It could be just like that sandbag hug and just do that. That’s it. That’s it out of that to my finisher, and I do it a week, and I’m done. It could be a circuit where that could actually be your session for that day, where you start off, and you do a farmer walks. So you got something in both hands, and you do that for a minute, and then you switch, and you do a sandbag hug, and you do that for a minute, and you switch off between multiple things. That’s one example of a circuit that you could do that could be, again, your entire thing.

Ryan: The other thing, though, right now is, for me, because this isn’t programmed into my workouts. This is the thing for me right now, where I’ll just do this a couple times a month, and I’ll just be like. Again, it’s not programmed. It’s just like, “You know what, today I feel like carrying some heavy shit.” That’s what I’ll do. I even posted a video of me doing this on Instagram, where I put on a weight vest, and I’ll pick up my 20-kilogram kettlebell, which is 45 pounds. I think that’s right, a 45-pound kettlebell in one hand, and I’ll go outside in front of my gym, and I’ll walk down the street. I’ll put the kettlebell down, turn around, pick it up in my other hand and walk back down the street, and I’ll do that until I’m done. When am I done? Yeah. When I’m done, whenever.

Ryan: I mean, that’s just the thing. Working my grip and just getting work done and entertaining the entire neighborhood because they’re like, “There goes that weird fricking foreigner again.” But again, it’s rather than trying to do a whole bunch of different stuff. Well, might just pick one thing and just do that. I’m not worried too much about time per se. I’m just going to carry some stuff. Now, why am I doing this? Again, we’ve already covered why I think it’s good, but going back from time to time and kind of just doing like a check on yourself and saying, “All right, where am I with this?”

Ryan: If I’m feeling a little spunky that day, I might actually do a little bit more or something. But the thing is I’m not trying to kill myself. It’s kind of like a checkup again. How’s this going? And just making sure that I still have it, if you will for whatever. I’m not trying to get jacked. We all know that. For me, it’s just that mental strength as well as the farmer boy strength, continue with-

Andy: Yeah. And that just continued affirmation that you’ve got the capacity to do more than you need to do.

Ryan: Absolutely.

Andy: Yeah. If you want to get into doing some loaded carries and you don’t have a kettlebell or a sandbag or you don’t want to go full on rucky and buy the fancy rucksacks with weights and stuff like that. So I have a small 19-liter backpack that I just filled up with a few liter bottles of water and a couple of ankle weights I had lying around and a book to kind of keep them straight in my back area so that it doesn’t shift around.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: I think it’s about 20, 23 pounds or something. You can go more or less than that. It doesn’t matter the weight so much. But all I do is I just keep that next to my door. When I’m leaving the house, I just look at it and decide if I want to wear it or not. I’m not trying to force myself or anything. Right? Some trips, if I’m just going to the convenience store and getting something real quick, yeah, I’ll put it on because why not? If I think I’m going to be walking for maybe a long time and it’s the middle of the day and it’s hot, I was like, “Hey, I’m just going to leave it here.” But it’s up to you.

Andy: But the main thing is I have it prepared and just sitting there ready, and it’s easy. It doesn’t make me look like some weird exercise freak like Ryan. I can just decide casually to put it on or not. So I’ve found that more often than not when I go out I am putting it on, and that’s been really great exercise the past few weeks for me that I’ve been enjoying.

Ryan: That is good. I want to say quickly, there’s a couple points to be made about that. So first off is that you’re not going for necessarily extended hikes with that heavy of a pack.

Andy: No.

Ryan: That’s an important thing to think about. If you are possibly training up for an extended hike, then first off, start light and also make sure that you have a hip belt. This is very important so that the load is not all on your shoulders, but that you’re distributing this weight so that it’s throughout the rest of the body and that the hips, you have a good hip belt to be able to distribute that load. Also, the other thing too is learn how to load a backpack. That’s important where the weight should be distributed within that backpack. The other thing too is that when you’re doing weighted exercises, and again, coming back to the hiking portion of this, that every single day is not going to be good. Okay?

Ryan: So doing heavy, heavy rucking is not actually good on the body to be done every single day. There are some groups out there that I will say that they’ve got some fabulous information. If you are interested in this sort of thing, GORUCK is a company that they-

Andy: We’re actually going to link to the GORUCK guide to this on the website for this because they have a really great information area there that explains a lot.

Ryan: It’s fabulous as well. We’ll link to the Dan John article. Pardon me, I’m sorry, the Art of Manliness article which they reference Dan John. Yeah. We did a big thing for Art of Manliness years ago. But again, there’s just a lot of things that can be said for walking as well as looking at weighted walking. So a couple of examples, a lot of examples we gave you today. The thing is don’t complicate it, keep it super simple, no matter what you’re doing. Enjoy the process. Again, the more that you can walk, I think the better. Yeah. Have fun with it. Anything else to add there Andy?

Andy: No. I think that really sums it up, and we can wrap it up here because I think we talked about a lot of things. I mean, the biggest thing is just that everyone knows how to walk, and it only has to suck if you really want to make it suck for yourself.

Ryan: Correct. That’s a good point, man. Yep. Secret technique. What’s the secret technique, man?

Andy: I mean, we’ve talked about this before. But if you really do no nothing else from this episode, just practice this breathing technique that we talked about a little bit today. You’re going to be walking at some point in your life. It’s not hard to just start training yourself to breathe nasally by default. All you have to do is keep your mouth closed.

Ryan: That’s right.

Andy: You want to go crazy and train yourself to sleep with your mouth closed. You might need to tape, or there’s like fancy wraps that they sell on Amazon. I just started thinking, keep your mouth closed when I laid down, and it worked fine. But learning to make nasal breathing your default, there are many benefits. We’ve talked about it before, but that is the secret. Do it. It’s good for you.

Ryan: Perfect. Love it. All right. Thanks for listening everybody. Keep safe

Andy: Goodbye.

Ryan: Bye-bye.

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