First ever published Nordic walking education material in English for INWA at 2001 (Original text: Marko Kantaneva, Risto Kasurinen).

1. WALKING

INWA-education-historyWalking for health

Walking is a safe form of endurance-building exercise which everyone may enjoy. When walking the muscles of the legs, hips, mid-torso and arms all work together. For example, a seventy-five kilogram man actively employs some 12-15 kg of muscles when walking. Walking means exercising at submaximum effort. It is also safe for the support and movement systems because the centre of gravity of the body is kept close to its centre. This reduces strain on the feet, ankles, knees and lower back. The load borne by the lower limbs during the striding action is roughly equivalent to the weight of the body. By contrast during jogging the corresponding load is some three times greater than the body’s own weight.

On the basis of scientific evidence the suitable daily amount of walking for the maintenance of good health is one of the following:

One hour of continuous vigorous walking,

Burning up extra 150 kcal of energy,

8,000 – 10,000 strides

five flights of steps five times (each day)

On the basis of controlled training studies regular walking for fitness in adults not only improves endurance but also blood lipid profiles and the body’s general composition. Walking also has favourable effects on the resting blood pressure, bone strength and mental attitude. In both jogging/walking studies of Swiss men and studies of walking exercising in Finnish adults results indicated that vigorous walking raises aerobic endurance and improves health.

The amount of energy consumed during walking depends on the speed of walking and on body weight. Already at normal walking pace the body’s metabolism increases threefold in comparison with the resting condition. If the speed is over 7 km / hour then the energy consumption is comparable with that during jogging. An eighty kilogram adult uses 60% more energy during vigorous walking than does a person weighing 50 kilograms. A medium-sized woman thus uses considerably less energy during walking than a normal-sized man with the same speed.

If the walking surface is soft and especially if it is hilly the energy consumed goes up. Vigorous arm action and, e.g. use of poles, hand-held weights or elbow weights all increase energy consumption as well. Use of extra weights may however reduce the walking speed so that its overall increase in energy consumption is also reduced. Table 1 shows the energy consumption occurring during vigorous walking (6 km/hour) in people of different weights.

Table 1.

Body weight (kg) 

Energy consumption (kcal)

per minute

50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 kg

4   5   5   6   7    8     9    10 kcal

per 30 minutes 

50    60   70   80    90   100   110  120 kg

120 150 165 180 210 240  270  300 kcal

per hour 

50    60   70   80    90   100   110  120 kg

240 300 330 360 420 480  540  600   kcal

 

exel_1Walking technique

Walking with a good technique means that the stride begins as the heel touches the ground and ends when the toe together with the ball of the foot pushes itself off the ground. The pelvis lifts up high and the general posture is taut and forward leaning. The upper and lower torso are involved in a clearly defined counter-swinging motion during which the mid-torso muscle groups are actively worked. Opposite arms and legs swing alternately forwards and back. Through the years researchers have used differing terms to describe the various phases of walking. In Finland the terminology is now established as follows: heel strike, mid-foot support, heel raise, toe thrust, initial swing, mid-swing and closing swing.

Walking as fitness training

Maximum oxygen uptake, in other words, maximum aerobic capacity (VO2 max) is the most common measurement of endurance fitness. It describes the ability of the organs of the cardiovascular system (the lungs, heart, blood vessels and the blood itself) to transport oxygen to the organs and muscles as well as the ability of the muscles to receive the oxygen and make use of it. The body’s maximum oxygen uptake capacity declines if it is not sufficiently exercised. Research has produced a great deal of knowledge about the effects of vigorous walking on maximum oxygen uptake. If the walking is regular and sufficiently vigorous it will very quickly increase the fitness of a healthy adult by 10-30%. Those who have exercises the least before starting on a fitness programme achieve the greatest changes in their fitness. The more a person has exercised before, the more he needs to walk in order to effect a further increase in fitness. Fitness levels rise on average about 10% during a three month period. In addition to the maximum aerobic capacity a change in the level of endurance fitness also means longer exercise periods given a standard level of exertion. This means that the person is able to train for longer before getting tired.

Exercise best affects the level of fitness if it is repeated approximately every second day or three to four times a week. Endurance fitness effects require at least a half hour or continuous exercising. If you are a beginner, however, then fifteen minutes is enough to start with.

The optimum amount of walking for raising fitness is thus:

Every second day, 30-60 minutes heart rate at 70-85% of maximum

Hints:

  • The stride rolls from the heel to the ball of the foot
  • Swinging the hips
  • Vigorous arm movements improve the rhythm of the walking cadence
  • The torso should be straight

 

exel_2

2. NORDIC WALKING

The history of Nordic Walking in Finland

For over forty years Nordic Walking has most commonly been practised in Finland as a form of summer training for skiers and has included long hikes, hill sessions and sessions on marshy ground. Even before this poles were used during training. Sports colleges and health care establishments have for a long time considered Nordic Walking as a form of treatment. Many recreational centres offered Nordic Walking as an exotic form of exercising. The real breakthrough as a nationally practised form of exercise happened in spring 1997. It happened as the result of a meeting of two types of institutions, namely, a commercial company and a national sports association. The Mäntyharju-based firm Exel Oyj designed a product called the “Nordic Walker pole” while Suomen Latu ry produced “Nordic Walking”. On combining these two the resulting market force and organisation provided the ingredients for a success story. Expertise and consultancy concerning equipment and technical training methods were sought from research establishments and from various individuals from the areas of sport and rehabilitation. By the year 2001 there were according to one gallup poll almost 500,000 people practising Nordic Walking in Finland. At the beginning Nordic Walking was somewhat shunned owing to its unusualness but now this craze has swept through the whole of Finland and fired the enthusiasm of men and women of all ages. Over the most recent period it is the number of male Nordic Walkers which has shown the greatest increase. Beyond Finland Nordic Walking has made good progress in Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Germany as well as being marketed in Japan and America.

What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic Walking is walking made more effective by thrusting a pair of hand-held poles. The cadences of the arms, legs and body are rhythmically speaking quite similar as in vigorous walking. During Nordic Walking opposite arms and legs alternate rhythmically forwards and back. It is important to learn the rhythm and cadence of Nordic Walking correctly at the very beginning in order to achieve the desired training effects. The range of movement of the arms forwards and back also regulates the length of the stride. Restricted arm movements will mean a restricted pelvic motion and stride length. The longer the pole thrust the longer the stride and more powerful the swing of the pelvis and upper torso. This ensures comprehensive training for the whole body.

Scientific facts about Nordic Walking

The first scientific studies into Nordic Walking were published in 1992. A group of researchers from Oregon studied the effects of a twelve week programme of Nordic Walking on the mental attitude, endurance and muscle condition of women subjects who had not previously done much exercise. The study monitored the progress of eighty-six women aged 20-50 whose general fitness was average (maximum aerobic capacity VO2max 34-37 ml/kg/min). The subjects were divided into three groups in which one practised normal walking, the second walked with walking poles and the third kept as a control group. The two training groups walked 30-45 minutes at a time four times a week at a pace requiring 70-85% maximum heart rate.

In both groups endurance fitness and maximum fitness test walking time both improved. Improvements were of the order of 8-19%. Only the pole group improved the maximum respiration capacity of the lungs. Muscle endurance improved by 37% in the pole walking group and by 14% in the walking group. Muscle strength measured in terms of push ups and by an adapted jaw pulling test did not increase in either group. The pole walkers recorded greater improvements in mental attitude than did the members of the walking group especially with respect to feelings of depression, anger and tiredness. The researchers concluded that this was due in part to the fact that the pole walkers were more enthusiastic about the new and slightly exotic form of exercise.

Another research group also studied walking with poles and compared it with normal walking. The subjects were young fit women (VO2max 50 ml/kg/min) and men (59). They walked both with and without poles on a treadmill at a speed of 6-7.5 km/hour. There were no differences in results between the men and women. Walking with rubber-tipped poles significantly increased oxygen uptake as well as raising the heart rate and energy consumption by some 20% in comparison with walking at the same speed without poles.

American researchers studied energy consumption during submaximum walking with and without poles. The subjects were ten twenty-four year old women with good levels of fitness. The average results for maximum oxygen uptake were 21 vs. 18 ml/kg/min, the former figure being for walking with poles. Corresponding heart rates were 133 vs. 122 beats per minute. Overall energy consumption during 30 minute sessions was also significantly higher greater for pole walking (174 vs. 141 kcals). Surprising as it may seem the effort required for the two forms of walking was perceived to be about the same.

The effort involved during walking with poles has also been investigated in coronary heart patients. In this study fourteen men aged 61 years walked two eight minute repetitions: the first consisted of normal walking while during the second the subjects used half kilogram poles. The subjects walked at the maximum pace allowed in the light of their symptoms. All subjects had had either heart bypass or angioplasty operations or had suffered cardiac infarctions. During pole walking average energy consumption increased 21%, heart rate by 14 beats/minute and highest systolic/diastolic blood pressure figures by 16 and 4 mmHg respectively when compared with figures during normal walking. Oxygen pulse figures (i.e. oxygen consumption multiplied by heart rate) are indicative of changes in oxygen consumption and are not connected with undesirable rises in blood pressure. The research group concluded that pole walking is a safe form of rehabilitation for heart patients.

The effects of Exel’s Nordic Walker pole training on the heart rate responses has also been studied. Ten adult men and women subjects showed heart rates of 5-12 and 5-17 beats/minute higher for moderate and vigorous Nordic Walking on an indoor sports hall running track in comparison with walking without poles. In laboratory and field studies performed at the Cooper Institute changes in energy consumption and effort were measured during Nordic Walking and conventional walking at freely chosen speeds. The subjects comprised 22 men and women. They walked 5.5 – 6 km / hour. Energy consumption increased when using Exel poles by an average of 20% compared with ordinary walking while heart rate increased by about 10 beats/minute. The greatest single individual increase in energy consumption was 46%. According to the subjects themselves, however, walking with poles did not seem to involve any greater effort than normal walking.

The beneficial effects of Exel Nordic Walking pole training on neck and shoulder problems as well as on neck and spinal mobility was measured in 55 female Helsinki office workers. All had previously suffered from various symptoms in the neck and shoulder regions. They all went Nordic Walking regularly three times each week for twelve weeks. Each session lasted 30-60 minutes and was at a pace requiring to 65-75 % of maximum heart rate. A control group whose members continued their previous lifestyle was also monitored.

Regular Nordic Walking reduced neck and shoulder symptoms as well the subjective experience of pain in these areas. The lateral mobility of the neck and spine increased significantly. The project also examined muscle activity using EMG measurements. Results showed that the muscles most actively involved were the forearm extensor and flexor muscles, the rear part of the shoulder muscles, the large pectoral muscles and the broad back muscles.

The Cross Walk training device which is used to work both arms and legs and which involves a cadence resembling that of Nordic Walking was widely studied during the 1990s. Knox compared the efforts of thirty-seven women aged 17-35 who trained both with and without arm movement. Adding the arms significantly raised the heart rate, lung ventilation, oxygen consumption and energy consumption in comparison with standard walking. The heart rate, for example, rose 17-31 beats per minute. Subjectively experienced effort and energy consumption both rose by about 14 percent. In another study of twenty-four year old women and men use of the arms increased energy consumption on average by 55% but did not seem to be that much greater effort. A third group investigating the Cross Walker on twenty-four year old men also came to the same conclusion.

Structure and choice of walking poles

Nordic Walking poles should be shorter than cross-country skiing poles. There are poles on the market which are specifically designed for Nordic Walking. In choosing from these it is worth paying attention to the following matters:

  • The grip should be ergonomically designed to fit the hand and made preferably of a material which does not chafe the hands.
  • The strap should provide adequate support for the hand – there should be no need to press onto the grip but rather the pole should swing naturally as part of the Nordic Walking cadence.
  • A good strap also spreads evenly the pressure on the hand and ensures unrestricted blood circulation.
  • A good strap should be adjustable according to the size of the hand.
  • The pole should be light and durable.
  • The hardened metal spike at the bottom of the pole aids grip and thus promotes safety. An asphalt paw is an accessory used over the metal tip which softens the shock  experienced by the hand as the pole impacts on hard surfaces.

For keep-fit enthusiasts it is worth going to a sports shop where you may choose exactly the right length pole according to your own height. High quality and appropriate equipment is an essential part of a successful and long-term training programme.

When buying your poles consider the following factors:

Do you get a naturally effective feeling of cadence using these poles?

Do the poles provide a suitable response given your level of fitness and Nordic Walking skills?

Short poles for a short cadence.

Long poles for a long cadence.

In Nordic Walking for fitness pole length can be chosen using the formula 0.7 x own height. For example, a walker of height 170 cm needs poles of length 120 cm (170 x 0.7 = 119 cm).

The height of the walker is not the only criterion when choosing a pole of suitable length. You also need to account for your level of fitness, mobility of joints, proportions of your limbs, speed of walking, type of terrain, technical skills and longer-term walking goals. Table 2 and the adjacent picture provide guidelines for selecting pole length.

Table 2

Height of walker (cm) Pole length (cm)

150cm – 105cm

155cm – 110cm

160cm – 110cm

165cm – 115cm

170cm – 120cm

175cm – 120cm

180cm – 125cm

185cm – 130cm

190cm – 130cm

200cm – 140cm

You are most likely to learn Nordic Walking technique correctly and enjoy effective training sessions when you use equipment specifically designed for Nordic Walking. Exel’s Nordic Walking poles have been developed to incorporate details which allow for effective and safe walking. The poles are made from composite material which renders them extremely light and durable. The pole grip is shaped to suit the ergonomics of the hand while the special strap supports the hand by allowing it to hold the grip without having to press during the pole cadence. The quick release spike-tip at the bottom of the pole is inclined so that its hardened metal tip digs into the ground at the optimal angle. A special asphalt paw has been designed to soften pole impact when walking on asphalt surfaces.

A good Nordic Walking pole has three important components:

  1. ergonomically designed grip and strap
  2. a durable, light and stiff composite pole
  3. a spike-tip specially designed for Nordic Walking

 

sauvakavely_opas3. TRAINING WITH WALKING POLES

  • In Nordic Walking the pole should move close to the body with the fists leading the movement moving alternately forwards and back. In correct Nordic Walking technique the shoulder and hip swings occur at the end of the cadence. The body should lean slightly forward.
  • The poles move forwards and back without any lateral motion. In correct Nordic Walking technique there is a clear swing of the shoulders and hips.
  • The stride is slightly longer than in normal walking; it begins with the heel strike and ends as the ball of the foot thrusts off the ground.

Nordic Walking technique

INITIAL PHASE OF NORDIC WALKING CADENCE (1)

The walker’s right arm is forward and slightly bent with the pole held at an angle. The left fist is past the line of the pelvis and the left arm extends back during pole thrust. The right leg is extended at the ankle as it pushes off the ground. The left leg is forward with the heel making contact with the ground to begin a new stride.

POLE THRUST STAGE (2)

The right arm’s pole thrust and the left leg thrust take place more or less simultaneously. The fists of the hands pass by one another slightly in front of the body and the right hand pole thrust begins as soon as it passes the line of the pelvis. At the same time the left arm swings under and forward with the fist and pole grip foremost. The right leg is slightly bent at the knee as it moves level with the left leg. The weight is supported by the left leg and the pole of the right hand.

POLE THRUST STAGE (3)

The pole thrust is completed as the right arm extends itself fully. In order to effect complete arm extension the palm of the hand opens out slightly and the final thrust is made via the pole strap. At the same time the left fist and pole grip lift slightly upwards and forward as the arm bends at the elbow. The left leg is extended at the ankle as it thrusts off the ground while the right leg is forward with the heel strike beginning a new stride.

FINAL STAGE OF POLE THRUST (4)

The right hand’s pole thrust ends with the palm of the hand opening out and the arm almost fully extended. The left arm’s pole thrust is beginning. The left leg begins its effort and the weight transfers to the right leg. The body leans markedly forward.

Uphill-downhill technique

UPHILL

When walking uphill the body leans forward more than usual. The use of the arms is more powerful while the muscles at the back of the thighs and the calf muscles are also called upon to a greater extent. Vigorous use of the poles helps to lengthen the stride on inclines. Pole thrust on uphill sections spreads the load from the legs to the upper body. Uphill walking is excellent training for beginners as it helps learning the use of the arms.

DOWNHILL

When walking downhill the stride is shortened and the centre of gravity held lower. The knees are kept slightly bent the whole time and neither is the foot extended as it pushes off from the ground.

The weight is shared between the pole striking the ground and the heel of the opposite foot. The more strain taken by the pole the less weight is borne on the opposite leg. The feet are constantly engaged in braking and are also slightly raised towards the back. The poles are not brought in front of the body. On downhill stretches the pole thrust is slightly less powerful than when walking on level or inclining terrain.

Technique-building for beginners

Pick up the poles by grasping them at their centre points. Set off at a brisk pace and concentrate on relaxed progress with the shoulders kept relaxed and low down. Allow the arms to swing freely forwards and back. Lengthen the stride so that it begins with the heel first, then rolls onto the sole of the foot and finishes with a thrust from the ball of the foot. This exercise improves your walking technique and prepares you for the Nordic Walking cadence.

Thread the pole straps over your hands. Drop your hands back and start walking without worrying about the poles. Concentrate solely on relaxed walking with the shoulders kept low down and relaxed. Allow the arms to swing freely forwards and back. Walk with the poles held low down and let them swing along with the arms without trying to use them. Lengthen the stride so that it begins with the heel first, then rolls onto the sole of the foot and finishes with a thrust from the ball of the foot. This exercise improves walking technique and prepares you for the Nordic Walking cadence as well as use of the poles.

Continue the above and concentrate now on using the poles. Once you have found the rhythm try to use the arms more and more. The ultimate goal is to get the pole thrust to travel behind the line of the pelvis. This exercise both teaches and improves the use of the arms.

The final stage: Try now to combine use of arms with leg technique. The pole thrust is now carried through to the end so that the arms are almost completely extended. In order to achieve complete extension open the palms of the hands slightly and direct the final stage of arm thrust through the pole straps. This way you can develop a relaxed and effective shoulder/neck musculature as well as good shoulder mobility which helps keep the spine in good condition. Also lengthen your stride so that it begins with the heel striking the ground first, then rolls onto the sole of the foot and finishes with a thrust from the ball of the foot. This will help you develop a relaxed and well-toned pelvis as well as good hip mobility which helps to maintain a healthy lower back.

Use of upper torso muscles

Begin the pole thrust with a bent arm close to the body and complete it with a complete extension of the arm to the rear. This exercise places most strain on the arm’s extensor muscles and ensures good shoulder mobility.

Begin the pole thrust with a fairly straight arm held in front and continue it with the arm kept straight moving downwards and backwards to just behind the line of the pelvis. This exercise mostly works the pectoral and elbow muscles together with the front part of the shoulders.

Technique hints for each day of the week

  1. Take longer strides than when walking normally
  2. Aim to lean slightly forward
  3. Allow the sole of the foot to roll from the heel to the ball of the foot
  4. Try to maintain the pole thrust past the line of the pelvis
  5. Don’t press on the pole grip
  6. At the end of the pole thrust open the palms slightly and complete the thrust with the palm supported by the pole strap
  7. Bring the pole forward grip first, not with the spike-tip end first

The importance of warming up

Warming up has two main purposes: to prepare the body for the training session to come and to prevent injuries. During warming up the blood circulation and respiration both increase, the heart rate and blood pressure rise and the amount of blood circulating increases as the body’s blood reserves (e.g. the spleen, liver and alimentary canal) release blood for those organs active during exercising. Through these functions the body strives to ensure that the muscles have sufficient nutrients and oxygen and that the resulting waste products are removed effectively.

The increased circulation of blood and muscular activity raise the temperature of the active muscles and indeed of the whole body. As a consequence of this the muscles’ internal friction is reduced and the suppleness of the muscles, tendons and joints increases. This reduces the risk of possible muscle tearing. Improved flexibility is also important for exercise performance; a supple muscle is able to produce greater power than a stiff one. When a muscle is able to stretch better its function becomes more economic; less energy is required and the muscle does not tire so easily. Warming up improves the joint action of the muscles and the nervous system. Warming up also has a psychological purpose in exercise because it also increases attentiveness and awareness.

Warming up using poles

Nordic Walking training should always begin with a warm up which includes vigorous exercises performed with the poles. The Nordic Walking pole is an excellent aid for increasing mobility, muscle suppleness and muscle strength as well as balance. The prerequisites of power, speed and endurance are all more easily attained through a vigorous session of pole exercises. After performing pole exercises training seems more enjoyable and easier. Warming up begins with a few minutes of easy Nordic Walking after which a few warm-up, stretching and relaxing pole exercises are performed. These exercises should concentrate particularly on the arms, shoulders, front and back thigh muscles and calves. Perform the exercises gently. Repeat each one about 10-20 times/seconds and take a short break between the more tiring exercises. If you feel any pain or your muscles begin to shake then you are stretching or straining the muscles in question too much. Relax the muscle for a moment and try to repeat the exercise a little less strenuously. The following warming up exercises may also be performed during the warming down period, as an additional exercise session in itself or as a separate pole exercise training session. The exercises are numbered so that you can find them more easily in the training programmes presented further on.

Warming up and stretching exercises

  1. FORWARD AND BACK SQUATS
  • THIGHS AND GLUTES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole with knuckles facing forward on your shoulders behind your head or in front of you at shoulder height. Squat down at an angle of about 90 degrees (heels on the ground) and straighten up again. You can add a push up on the pole straightening your arms either as you squat down or as you straighten up.

  1. STEP SQUAT
  • THIGHS AND GLUTES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole with knuckles facing forward on your shoulders behind your head, in front of you at shoulder height or as a support at the side of the body. Take a long step forward and with the same leg push back up to the original position. You can add a push up on the pole either as you go into the squat or straighten out from it. You can perform the same movement without the push up but using the poles as support.

  1. STANDING PUSH UPS
  • SHOULDERS

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole with knuckles facing forward straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Raise the pole until it is above your head keeping the arms straight the whole time. Lower the pole back to shoulder height. You can also push up behind the neck and rise up slightly on your toes at the end of the push up.

  1. STRAIGHT BACK SQUATS
  • GENERAL EXERCISE FOR THE WHOLE BODY

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole with knuckles facing forward above your head with straight arms and hands well apart. Keeping a straight back squat down to about 90 degrees or lower while keeping the gaze directed straight ahead, then straighten up again. The pole moves in a straight line up and down within the body’s area of balance (toes-heels).

  1. JAVELIN TWIST
  • NECK AND SHOULDERS

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Grasp the pole with knuckles facing forward and hands wide apart and bring the pole in front of your pelvis. With one hand leading the movement move the pole behind your back. Return to the basic position with the other hand leading the way. Keep the arms straight throughout.

  1. SHOULDER FLEX
  • NECK AND SHOULDERS

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole with straight arms and hands apart at shoulder width in front of the pelvis. Lift the arms up by flexing the shoulders, hold for a moment then return to the basic position.

7) UPPER TORSO TWIST

  • ABDOMINALS

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole behind the shoulders with hands relaxed on top of it. Twist the mid-torso by bringing either end of the pole forward alternately. Keep your gaze fixed straight ahead throughout.

  1. STRETCHING IN STEP SQUATS
  • FRONT OF THIGHS AND HIP EXTENSORS

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the poles as supports by the side of the body. Step forward with one leg. Keep the leg straight and gaze directed upward and gently push the hips down towards the ground. Repeat on the other leg.

  1. FORWARD BOW
  • BACK OF THIGHS AND CALVES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Bring one leg slightly forward and at the same time lean on the poles. Push the upper torso forward with straight back and forward leg straight at the knee. You can also hold the poles with straight arms low down in front of you. For warming down exercises see page 52.

 


4. CONTROLLING THE INTENSITY OF EXERCISE 
(By Ph. D., Docent Raija Laukkanen)

Heart rate

When out Nordic Walking it is a good idea to measure the level of intensity of the exercise so that the 1st_ONW_book_2000desired training effects are achieved and overexertion avoided. The best way of doing this is to monitor the heart rate with a heart rate monitor as well as feeling of exertion. In order to achieve improvements in fitness the level of intensity of training should be at least 60-70% of maximum heart rate. For rehabilitation purposes a lower level is sufficient. The body’s maximum endurance characteristics decline with age by some 10% per decade. Therefore for middle-aged individuals unused to exercising and all those older it is sufficient that their heart rates exceed the minimum threshold (i.e. 60% of maximum heart rate). Studies in England, USA and Finland have shown that vigorous walking raises the heart rate to 150 beats per minute, i.e. approximately 80% of maximum heart rate. Women are more likely to achieve their target levels than men for all age groups between 30 and 70.

The heart rate during exercising is affected by both the maximum heart rate and resting heart rate as well as by the level of fitness, intensity of the exercise, form of exercise and skill levels. The body’s posture, environmental factors (temperature, altitude), level of stress, hormonal factors and the present of stimulants or depressants in both food and drink also have their own affects on the heart rate.

Target heart rate as percentage of maximum heart rate

LIGHT TRAINING (50-60% HRmax)

Exercise at this level most commonly includes everyday activities which maintain general fitness and may raise fitness in beginners and those in poor condition.

LIGHT / MODERATE TRAINING (60-70% HRmax)

Exercising at this level has an effect on the health and is well suited for weight-management purposes. It increases the heart’s pumping capacity as well as the blood circulation, promotes the durability of muscles and supporting tissue, and raises the metabolism.

MODERATE / HEAVY TRAINING (70-85% HRmax)

Exercise at this level raises the condition of the heart and the circulatory system. For those used to training it improves endurance. At this level of exercise one is still able to talk comfortably and may continue exercising at the same level for a longer period. This level prepares the body for more serious training and increases the body’s lactic acid tolerance.

HEAVY/MAXIMUM TRAINING (85-100% HRmax)

Exercise at this level is strenuous and causes both breathlessness and muscular tiredness. It is partly anaerobic which leads to the build up of lactic acid in the circulatory system. Such exercise thus promotes lactic acid tolerance and improves short-term speed characteristics. Training at this level is important for raising the maximum performance capacity of competitive sportsmen and women.

The maximum heart rate is the highest heart rate which may be measured during maximum exertion. Maximum heart rate is affected by genetic factors, age and the quantity and quality of training undertaken. Maximum heart rate may be measured most accurately during maximum exertion. It may also be calculated as a function of age using the following formula:

Maximum heart rate = 220 – age (in years)

For example, a 40 year old: Maximum heart rate = 220 – 40 = 180

This formula provides only a guide as maximum heart rate varies according to the individual and with several factors being of significance in addition to age. The most accurate, reliable and safest way to ascertain one’s one maximum pulse is to perform a fitness test supervised by specialists.

If you use the above formula then the target heart rate for walking also becomes an estimate. This estimate becomes more accurate when you also take into account your own subjective exertion level during exercise. Light exercise should feel light, moderate likewise moderate and heavy correspondingly heavy. Moderate exertion will cause mild sweating or slight breathlessness while heavy exercise causes profuse sweating and considerable breathlessness. The table below shows guide values for maximum heart rate for people of different ages calculated using the above formula.

Table 4

Age (years) Maximum heart rate (beats/min)

20 (years) – 200 (beats/min)

30 (years) – 190 (beats/min)

40 (years) – 180 (beats/min)

50 (years) – 170 (beats/min)

60 (years) – 160 (beats/min)

70 (years) – 150 (beats/min)

80 (years) – 140 (beats/min)

The following table shows recommended heart rates for rehabilitation and fitness walking for people of different ages:

Table 5

Age (years) Heart rate % (beats/min)

(years)  60%    70%    85%

20        120     140     170

30        115     135     160

40        110     125     155

50        100     120     145

60          95     110     135

70          90     105     130

80          85     100     120

One should also be aware that the heart rate both at rest and during physical exertion is affected by medication such as, for example, medicines for heart and circulatory problems, asthma medicine and medicines for treating psychological conditions. The most common of these are blood pressure medications which generally lower the heart rate and asthma medications which increase it. The effect on the heart rate may be either that of increasing or decreasing so anyone using such drugs should consult with his doctor or some other health care specialist regarding the heart rate suitable for him during exercise.

 

kirja5. TYPES OF TRAINING IN NORDIC WALKING

Equal pace basic endurance training (60-70% HRmax)

The basis of Nordic Walking training consists of basic endurance training which involves walking steadily at a moderate or at most moderately strenuous pace so that energy is produced aerobically. Training sessions may vary from 30 minutes to three hours. The degree of exertion may be varied according to the nature of the terrain (i.e. hilly or level). Those unused to regular training should begin with sessions on level terrain. Main effects of training: Aerobic energy production, respiration of body fat. This training improves basic endurance and basic fitness. The heart rate remains below 140 beats per minute (see Table 5 for more accurate heart rates).

Pace endurance training

Pace endurance training on, for example, inclining terrain improves performance capacity. The length of the slope is not of great importance as the training session involves repeatedly ascending and descending against the clock, e.g. for a half an hour period. You may therefore also include short inclines in this kind of training. In such cases you should jog gently on the descents in order to keep the heart rate within the target level. Hill training involves vigorous walking up the slope using the poles followed by running, jogging or walking in a relaxed fashion back down. Having got to the bottom again a new ascent begins immediately. Hill training is highly effective at improving speed tolerance and aerobic endurance as well as improving recovery time. This type of training suits those with a good level of fitness.

It is important to remember that the heart rate rises surprisingly fast during this kind of training. Monitoring the heart rate with a heart rate meter is a great aid to training and ensures that overexertion is avoided. This degree of exertion involves both aerobic and anaerobic energy production. Hill sessions may last from ten minutes to an hour. Sets of repeated intervals last 10-20 minutes and include 1-6 repetitions with recovery times of 1-2 minutes. Corresponding forms of training include sessions on soft (e.g. marshy) ground or running on level ground with the use of poles. Main effects of training: Aerobic energy production, respiration of carbohydrates, improved speed tolerance. Suitable for fitness walkers. The heart rate is in the region of 140-170 beats per minute (see Table 5 for more accurate heart rates).

Maximum endurance training (85-100 HRmax)

Maximum endurance training  is appropriate for those with good levels of fitness and experience of regular Nordic Walking. As with pace endurance, maximum endurance may be developed in hill sessions against the clock. The incline should, however, be longer. Training should be at maximum pace (with the heart rate in the anaerobic area). Each repetition should last at least three minutes. Soft terrain is also useful for maximum endurance training. The overall length of each session should be 5-30 minutes with each repetition lasting 3-10 minutes. Main effects of training: maximised oxygen uptake capacity, respiration of carbohydrates, maximum endurance. Suitable only for those with high levels of fitness. Heart rate 170 – 200 beats per minute (see Table 5 for more accurate heart rates).

Remember:

  • Basic endurance training builds basic condition and endurance
  • You should be able to talk without gasping
  • Pace endurance training builds the capacity to tolerate faster pace.
  • Maximum endurance training develops maximum performance capacity.
  • Basic and pace endurance training suit those seeking improved fitness.
  • Maximum endurance training is for competitive sportsmen and women.

Suppleness and speed work

Suppleness and peak speed capability may be developed  by intensive training sessions. Before the session one should warm up thoroughly by, for example, Nordic Walking for a short period. Speed work sessions make use of fairly short uphill sections lasting 20-60 seconds. The gradient of the inclines should be such that one can easily leap up it and comfortable run back down. The ground should otherwise be firm and also free from stones, etc. to avoid injuries when running back down. The uphill stretches should be attempted using a leaping stride. One may also run uphill if leaping causes problems. The most important consideration is not the speed attained but a vigorous arm action and also that the leg and pole thrust is performed to the full. On running back down there should be a short recovery phase, e.g. a short stretch of relaxed Nordic Walking. The whole session should last 20-60 minutes according to your condition. Such training sessions improve anaerobic endurance and develop the musculature of the whole body. This form of training is particularly suitable for advanced and peak fitness walkers.

Power training with poles when moving

As well as prolonged sessions of Nordic Walking it is well worth performing exercises which develop other characteristics.  Skill and power training improve both muscle power and muscle balance. Twenty different exercises are described below. These are strenuous and best suited to competitive sportsmen and women and others with a good level of fitness. If the beginner wishes to try these skill and power exercises it is best to start by walking and learning the correct techniques. Use of the arms together with the legs assists the load placed on the legs and strengthens the musculature of both lower and upper torso evenly. A suitable number of repetitions for the beginner is 1-5 although more advanced walkers may perform tens of repetitions in a single session. A good place to begin skill and power training  is a gently sloping sandy incline. Mark on the ground a distance of some twenty paces. Begin at walking pace so that you can get your legs and arms working in a coordinated fashion. After this increase the pace slightly. Perform these exercises up a gentle slope and use the relaxed walk back as a recovery.

NORDIC JOGGING

Run in a relaxed manner allowing the stride to roll forward from the heel to the ball of the foot and using the poles in vigorous alternating fashion.

STRIDING WITH POLES

Run in a relaxed manner with lengthened but low bounding strides allowing the stride to roll forward from the heel to the ball of the foot and using the poles in vigorous alternating fashion.

LEAPING WITH POLES

Increase the pace of your running slightly and keep the leading leg’s knee high allowing the lower leg to swing easily forward. As soon as the knee is raised plant the leg down on the ground at the point underneath your centre of gravity. Thus you will achieve an effective forward directed effort. Use the poles in vigorous alternating fashion.

HOPPING WITH POLES

Perform forward hops on one leg keeping the active leg close to the ground. Employ a strong two-arm pole thrust on every second hop.

SPRINGING HIGH WITH POLES

Add a little more pace and after the leg thrust try to pull the leading leg forward using the glutes ready for a new thrust. Begin by supporting the leg thrust with the poles and as coordination improves use the poles to gain extra pace. This is an extremely demanding exercise.

FLEA JUMP

Take a large step forward and land in a step squat. Bring the poles to the side for support. Press the pole tips into the ground half way between the feet of the leading and trailing legs. Perform an upward thrust with the legs and a simultaneous two-arm push up with the poles and land in a new step squat. Complete the pole thrust vigorously so that your arms are more or less full extended.

FLEA LEAP

Take a large step forward and land in a step squat. Bring the poles to the side for support. Press the pole tips into the ground half way between the feet of the leading and trailing legs. Perform an upward thrust with the legs and a simultaneous two-arm push up with the poles jumping vigorously into a new step squat which is forward of your original position. Complete the pole thrust extremely vigorously so that your arms are more or less full extended.

SQUAT JUMP WITH POLES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and go down into a half-squat. Place both pole tips into the ground either side of your feet. Perform a vigorous leg thrust forwards and upwards assisted by a two-arm push up with the poles. As you land back on the ground go once again straight into the squat jump position ready for the next jump.

POLE BOUND

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and go down into a half-squat. Place both pole tips into the ground either side of your feet. Perform a vigorous leg thrust forwards and upwards assisted by a two-arm push up with the poles. As you spring up spread your legs wide apart in the air. On landing back on the ground jump immediately forward without any help form the poles, bring the legs together and the poles either side of the feet ready for a new effort.

HOE JUMP

Direct your jump to one side using a two-arm pole thrust. Then jump to the other side without the aid of the poles. Repeat the movement several times and then change sides.

STEP SQUAT JUMPING ON THE SPOT

Take a large step forward and land in a step squat. Bring the poles to the side for support. Press the pole tips into the ground half way between the feet of the leading and trailing legs. Perform an upward thrust with the legs and a simultaneous two-arm push up with the poles, directing your jump straight upwards. Land back on the ground in the same position as when you began the jump. Repeat with the opposite leg forward.

Remember:

  • Perform a thorough warm up before exercising
  • Begin at a gentle pace on level terrain
  • Start with the easiest and progress to the more strenuous
  • Power training with poles on the spot (10-20)

Pole power exercises performed on the spot are best suited for active and peak fitness training but if performed correctly are also an excellent form of exercise for “fitness-for-fun” enthusiasts. Power exercises using the pole/poles as an aid are a good way of developing the musculature of the upper and lower body. The exercises are numbered so that you can find them more easily in the training programmes given further on.

  1.   STRAIGHT BACK SQUATS
  • GENERAL EXERCISE FOR THE WHOLE BODY

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole with knuckles facing forward above your head with straight arms and hands well apart. Keeping a straight back squat down to about 90 degrees or lower while keeping the gaze directed straight ahead, then straighten up again. The pole moves in a straight line up and down within the body’s area of balance (toes-heels).

11) POLE SQUATS

  • BACK AND ARM EXTENSORS

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Plant the tips of the poles into the ground about one metre behind you. Squat down close to the ground supported by the poles and straighten back up again concentrating your effort on the arm muscles.

12) CROSS SQUATS

  • SHOULDER AND LEG MUSCLES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Place the poles to your sides with arms extended. Go down into a squat and lift yourself again with an even effort from both arms and legs.

13) TIPS OF THE TOES

  • CALF MUSCLES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Plant the pole tips either in front or to the side of you for support and stand up on the tips of your toes. You can also perform this exercise with the pole resting on your shoulders.

14) POLE PUSH UPS

  • ARM EXTENSORS AND PECTORAL MUSCLES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Plant the poles’ tips about one metre in front of you for support. Lower yourself supported by the poles and keeping your back straight and then push yourself back up supporting your effort with the pole straps.

15)  STOMACH JERKS

  • STRAIGHT AND DIAGONAL ABDOMINALS,

UPPER PART OF STRAIGHT ABDOMINALS

Sit down on the ground with the legs slightly bent at the knees and the pole held behind the neck with knuckles facing forward. Keep the jaw on the chest and the back hunched slightly forward. Let the upper torso lean backwards so that the abdominals tense. Perform a small movement forwards and backwards (10cm) so that the stomach stays tense throughout the whole movement.

LOWER PART OF ABDOMINALS

As above but concentrate the effort on the lower part of the straight abdominals. This may be done by keeping the jaw clear of the chest and the back straight.

16) STOMACH SUPPORT PADDLING

  • STRAIGHT AND DIAGONAL ABDOMINALS

Sit down on the ground with legs slightly bent at the knees and holding the pole in front of you with your knuckles facing forward. Keep the jaw on the chest and the back slightly hunched forward. Let the upper torso lean backwards so that the abdominals tense. Perform a canoe-style paddling motion alternating the arms and allowing a good degree of lateral rotation in the upper body.

17) LEG RAISING USING THE STOMACH

  • STRAIGHT ABDOMINALS

Lie on the ground resting on your elbows. With your legs slightly bent at the knees place the pole in line with your legs and resting on top of your stomach. The far end of the pole should be held between your feet. Lift your legs off the ground and perform up and down movements without allowing them to touch the ground.

18) GOOD MORNING!

  • LOWER BACK

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forward. Place the pole on your shoulders and stand with the feet well apart and the knees slightly bent. Bow forward using your upper torso and keeping your line of vision straight ahead.

19) THREADING THE POLE

  • STRAIGHT AND DIAGONAL ABDOMINALS

Sit cross-legged and hold the pole in front of you with knuckles facing forward. Lift your legs off the ground and try to thread the pole under your legs without loosening your grip on the pole. Perform the motion continuously without letting your legs touch the ground.

20) UPPER BODY LIFT

  • STRAIGHT BACK MUSCLES

Lie down on your back with the pole on your shoulders or above your chest. Lift the upper torso off the ground and then lie back again pushing the pole upwards. Repeat the movement in a relaxed fashion.

Remember:

  • Warm up thoroughly before the main part of the training 
  • Be aware of correct technique when performing movements
  • Increase the number of repetitions as the training progresses
  • Use these exercises in conjunction with Nordic Walking

Warm down and stretching exercises (21-34)

Warm down and stretching exercises are used to ease the body back into the resting condition. When performed correctly the recovery process takes place more quickly and effectively because the blood circulation is more active during light exercise than in the resting condition. A more active circulation means that toxins built up during the training are more effectively removed. It is therefore important to see warm down and stretching as an integral part of your exercising by which you are better able to benefit from your training sessions. The following pole exercises may also be used during warming up or otherwise as a session in itself whenever you wish to improve your mobility and remove muscle tension. Maintain each exercise/stretch for approx. 20/30 seconds when performed straight after a training session. If these exercises are performed as a mobility session in its own right then each stretch may be held for between 30 seconds and three minutes. The exercises are numbered so that they may be found more easily in conjunction with the training programmes described later in this text.

21) CALVES ON THE POLE

  • CALF MUSCLES

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Place one foot slightly behind you. Place your foot so that a part of your weight is supported by the pole and bring the pole slightly in towards you so that you feel a stretch in the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.

22) HAMSTRING BOW

  • HAMSTRING AND GLUTES STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Place one foot slightly forward and rest your weight on the poles. Press your upper torso forward. Keep the leg to be stretched straight at the knee.

23) QUADRICEP POSE

  • QUADRICEPS (FRONT OF THIGHS) STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Grasp hold of one ankle behind you and rest on the poles. Keep the bent leg close to the straight leg and at the same time push the pelvis forward. This exercise may also be performed by placing the pole under the ankle and pulling up on the pole.

24) GLUTES SITTING DOWN

  • GLUTES STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Keep the back straight and lift one leg onto the thigh of the other. Lean slightly forward, straighten your back and gradually lower yourself by bending the knee of the supporting leg. The stretch will be focused on the glutes of the non-supporting leg.

25) SHOULDER CROSS-STRETCH

  • SHOULDER AND BACK MUSCLE STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the poles in your hands and bring one pole over to the other side of your body. Lean forward onto the arm in front of the upper torso, keep the back straight and legs slightly bent at the knees. The stretch will be felt in a different way according to whether you keep your arm straight or bent at the elbows.

26) SHOULDER BLADE STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole in front of the line of the pelvis with the hands kept as far as possible apart. Bring the pole slowly back over the shoulders and as far down as the glutes then slowly return to the original position. Try to keep the arms straight throughout.

27) POLE SUPPORT

  • BROAD BACK MUSCLE, ARM EXTENSOR AND PECTORAL STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Place the poles far in front of you and press your upper torso forwards and down. Keep your arms more or less straight and push your head forward between your hands. You can make this stretch even more effective by directing your gaze to one side or the other.

28) ARMPIT POLE

  • ARM EXTENSOR STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Take hold of the pole grip so that the pole tip is pointing upwards. Bring the pole behind your back and place the tip under the armpit of the opposite arm. Grasp the tip end of the pole with the other hand and lift it upwards and forward. Keep the elbow of the upper arm close to the head.

29) CAT’S BACK

  • UPPER BACK

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Bring the pole close to the knees keeping it held with knuckles facing forward. Bend down slightly at the knees and arch the back upwards keeping the jaw on the chest.

30) HAND BLAST

  • ARM EXTENSOR AND BACK STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Bring the pole behind your back and hold it there in an upright position. Hold the pole with one hand high up the shaft and the other further down. Keep the elbow of the upper hand close to your head and pull it upwards. You can also effect a stretch of the arm extensors by pushing the pole downwards.

31) SIDE BEND

  • STRETCHING THE SIDES OF THE TORSO

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole above your head with the hands far apart and the knuckles facing forwards. Lean to one side without twisting, keep the mid-torso firm as you perform this movement. A more powerful stretch can be achieved by pulling the lower hand downwards.

32) BUNNY RABBIT

  • BACK STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Hold the pole in front of your chest with hands close together and knuckles facing forwards. Bring the elbows over the pole, place the jaw on the chest and elbows down so by stretching the back in a forwards direction.

33) POLE TURN

  • PECTORAL STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Bring the pole behind your back with the palms of the hands facing forwards. Move one arm close to the body and push the other arm forwards without twisting your back.

34) HIP FLEXORS

  • THIGH MUSCLES AND HIP FLEXOR STRETCH

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width and with knees and toes facing forwards. Take a long step forwards and support yourself with the poles. Keep your upper torso straight and press the pelvis and trailing leg down and forwards.

6. SPECIAL TRAINING

Running with poles

It is also possible to use the poles when running. This demands, however, an above average level of fitness. The technique of running with poles is very similar to that of Nordic Walking. When running the arm action is in some respects “slower” than in conventional running. In the latter the arms move quickly in rhythm with the leg cadence and delineate a relatively short arc of movement. By contrast, when poles are used the arms move more deliberately through a larger arc of movement.

Nordic Walking on soft ground

Nordic Walking across mires or other soft ground is at its best an unhurried form of aerobic training which provides an element of variety to the Nordic Walking training programme. Rubber boots are worn taped at the tops in case of occasional sinking in too deep. The pace may be rather leisurely as the softness of the ground increases the overall effort required. Running on soft ground offers a number of advantages as the muscles and skeletal system are not subjected to the same kind of shocks as when running on harder surfaces. At the same time the benefits in terms of fitness are at least as great as walking on level ground. Thanks to the poles the muscles of the arms, back and shoulders are all involved and the upper torso becomes stronger. One particularly important role of the poles is to facilitate and provide balance for the forward effort of walking on wet ground. As with hill training soft ground may be used for a variety of sessions “against the clock”. Before trying out Nordic Walking on miry ground you should first get used to walking in forests and then choose a relatively dry stretch of soft ground for your first session.

Power hill training

The idea of this form of training is to develop all areas of fitness: basic endurance, pace endurance and maximum endurance. Maximum endurance training is used only with respect to muscular effort (aerobic speed endurance) without the heart rate rising to its maximum potential. Training sessions start at a slow pace and gradually increase speed. At the end of the session the tempo is reduced again. The following is an example of a hill training session. The gradually increasing pace ensures a refreshed feeling in the muscles after the training has finished. The session should end with a thorough set of stretching exercises.

After warming up (10 minutes) the first part of the session proper begins. The aim of this is 20-30 minutes of vigorous aerobic Nordic Walking. The heart rate remains under 150 beats per minute throughout. See the Heart Rate Table 5 for more details. During the subsequent pace endurance section the heart rate rises to 150-170 beats per minute. This section consists of 20-30 minutes of hill training with the inclines walked vigorously and the downhills jogged or run. The following muscle conditioning exercise should be repeated 15 times.

The movement may be, for example, a pole press up. It should be begun straight after the hill session without any intervening recovery. The aerobic pace endurance component of the session involves jogging or running uphill using the poles at 95% of maximum speed and for a maximum of ten seconds at a time (heart rate 170-180 beats/minute). Five repetitions with two minutes recover in between. Afterwards a recovery phase consisting of easy Nordic Walking (heart rate 135-140 beats/minute) followed by the stretching exercises.

Interval training

Interval training has for many years formed an integral part of the training programme of competitive athletes although it is, if correctly practised, quite suitable for average keep-fit enthusiasts. Interval training efficiently improves aerobic endurance and maximum oxygen uptake capacity (VO2max). It also improves the capacity to train and exercise at a faster pace as well as raising lactic acid tolerance. Other positive effects of interval training are increased energy consumption including a greater metabolism of body fat and more effective use of training time. Intervals also make training more interesting. Interval training involves alternation between effort and recovery or between strenuous and less strenuous effort. Intervals may last between 30 seconds and 4 minutes. As well as Nordic Walking and normal walking, virtually any form of training involving movement may employ the principals of interval training provided that the subject is easily able to adjust the intensity of the exercise. The use of a heart rate monitor is important.

THREE EXAMPLES OF INTERVAL TRAINING:

  1. Alternating 2 minutes vigorous Nordic Walking (heart rate 70-85% HRmax) with 1 minute easy Nordic Walking. 20-60 minutes in all.

2. Alternating 1 minute Nordic Jogging (heart rate 70-85% HRmax) with 2 minutes Nordic Walking (heart rate 50-70% HRmax). 20-60 minutes in all.

3. Alternating 3 minutes Nordic Walking with 3 minutes ordinary walking a the same intensity. 20-60 minutes in all.

Pyramid sessions i.e. pyramid intervals

In Pyramid training the duration of each interval is progressively raised or decreased until the apex of the pyramid is reached. Thereafter the intervals progressively decrease or increase in length respectively. Pyramids may also involve the progressive increase or decrease in the intensity of each repetition. Thus pyramids involve a natural increase in either the intensity or duration of exertion. In this way the body’s ability to adapt to and tolerate physical stimulus becomes highly effective and from the subject’s point of view enjoyable. Pyramid training may also be called pyramid intervals because the pyramid contains a repeated alternation of exertion and recovery or intense and light exertion.

PYRAMID TRAINING I

The first type of pyramid session involves lengthening each successive interval while keeping the intensity of exertion more or less even. Following the warm up a session as described below may be implemented:

LENGTH OF INTERVALS INCREASES WHILE INTENSITY REMAINS CONSTANT

One minute of vigorous Nordic Walking (70-85% HRmax) followed by one minute gentle Nordic Walking (50-60% HRmax). Two minutes vigorous Nordic Walking (70-85% HRmax) followed by 1-2 minutes gentle Nordic Walking. The pyramid builds up in this way with the length of the strenuous phase of the interval increasing. After the apex of the pyramid has been reached the intervals reduce in length by the same steps. Beginners to pyramid training should first try a shorter session, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute intervals. More experienced walkers might try e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute intervals. The length of the intervening recovery period may be adapted according, e.g. to the heart rate, i.e. so that the heart rate recovers to within 50-60% HRmax.

PYRAMID TRAINING II

The second way of performing pyramid training is to gradually alter both the length and the intensity of each pyramid. Following a thorough warm up the following session might be tried.

INTENSITY DIMINISHES/INCREASES AS THE DURATION OF EACH INTERVAL INCREASES/DECREASES RESPECTIVELY

Start with the heart rate at 50-60% HRmax for ten minutes, followed by six minutes at 60-70% HRmax etc. on reaching stage e) the intervals retrace the same steps of changing intensity and duration. Heart rate three minutes 80-90 HRmax, then four minutes 70-80% HRmax. Continue this way until stage a) has been completed. Including warming up and warm down the whole session lasts 75 – 90 minutes.

Recovery

Gentle Nordic Walking across mires, other soft ground or through forest is an excellent way of allowing the body to recover from strenuous exertion. Such walking is of shorter duration and lower intensity than basic endurance training. Following the recovery session your body feels revitalised. Recovery sessions last 20-30 minutes.

The purpose of the recovery session is not to tire but rather to help the body to more rapidly expel the waste products accumulated during the main part of the session. The body is then more able to tolerate an increased load during the next training session.

 

128_28077. FUN WITH THE POLES

Exercising with poles isn’t just about Nordic Walking or Nordic Blading at maximum effort. You can also incorporate some non-too-serious exercises into your training. These are particularly useful for engendering interest in children. It is good to remember that exercising is not just about pain and sweat but that it can be fun and that you should return from your training with a smile on your face. Here are a few ideas suitable for group use.

POLE LIMBO

  • MOBILITY AND BALANCE

Two people hold the pole horizontally. The other group members try to limbo their way underneath. Gradually lower the height of the pole. The aim is to get under the pole with chest facing upwards. No other part of the body besides the feet may make contact with the ground.

POLE SQUATS AND ROTATIONS

  • MUSCLE STRENGTH AND MOBILITY

Pair up with a partner and stand opposite each other each holding opposite ends of the same poles. Perform alternately leg squats supporting yourselves with the poles. The partner in the squat position can pull on the poles to help get up from the squat. You may also perform rotations keeping hold of the poles in the same manner.

JUMPING PRACTICE

  • MUSCLE STRENGTH AND SUPPLENESS

You can also hold the pole between your hands at the tips of your fingers and then jump over the pole without loosening your hold on it. Place the poles at a reasonable distance apart. Perform even two-legged bounds over the pole.

POLE CIRCLE AND POLE CHANGE

  • AGILITY

Make a circle with one pole per person. Hold the poles pointing in towards the centre of the circle and stand ready to walk when the circle starts to move round. When the signal is given let go of your own pole and try to snatch hold of the pole in front of you before it falls to the ground. This game can be made more challenging by making the circle bigger. You can also try this in pairs.

GROUP PRACTICE

If you notice problems in your group in finding the natural Nordic Walking rhythm you can help using a line of poles. Standing in a line let the person standing behind you take hold of your pole basket. Start walking with the arms swinging in a natural walking motion. This helps all group members to find the required rhythm at the same time.

Remember:

  • Fun with poles makes Nordic Walking more interesting
  • Suitable for both children and adults
  • Also may be adapted for more intensive training
  • Try to invent your own pole games.

 

DSC_24038. CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR

Several layers keep you dry and warm

Level of fitness, metabolism and tolerance of cold conditions are characteristics specific to each individual. It follows that there is no single correct way to dress for warmth. Instead each person has to find the way most suitable for himself of combining layers of clothing in different conditions. Using several layers of clothing is easy when one observes a few simple principles. The basic idea is that a number of layers are worn one on top of the other with the number of layers being determined by the weather conditions as well as the amount of heat produced by the body.

The job of the innermost layer is to transfer perspiration away from the body to the outer layers so that the skin stays feeling dry. Layers of air form in between the respective layers of clothing. These act like microclimates, both insulating the body against the cold and ventilating it. The outermost layer provides protection against rain and wind whilst at the same time breathing and allowing for comfortable exercising. It is important that the layers may be used in various combinations as well as separately according to the weather.

DSC_1417INNERMOST LAYER

The most important task of the innermost layer is to transfer humidity to the successive layers of clothing as well as to hold air which warms the surface of the skin. The better the transfer of humidity the better the heat insulation. Short underpants and short-sleeved vests are excellent for keeping the skin warm and reducing the required frequency of washing outer garments. The best materials for undergarments are warm and well ventilated artificial fibres such as polypropylene and polyester – not cotton.

INTERMEDIATE LAYER

The most important task of the intermediate layer is to provide warmth and insulation. The material should be able to transfer humidity to the outer layer. Light-weight clothing may be used either as undergarments or in between undergarments and the outermost layer. In cold conditions an intermediate layer is used in between the innermost and outermost garments. Several intermediate layers may be used according to the conditions. The best materials are fleeces, microfleeces and Power Stretch.

OUTERMOST LAYER

The purpose of the outermost layer is to provide protection from the wind and rain. It should also breathe and remove the body’s humidity being transferred by the inner layers. The design and details of the outer garments depend on the kind of outdoor exercise being pursued. Suitable materials include hard-wearing weather-resistant fabrics such as Drymax. The outer garments should be sufficiently roomy to allow for as many inner layers as may be required. The degree of ventilation provided by the outermost garment should be easily adjustable by some or other simple mechanical means.

SHOES

Shoes are of great importance in exercise. The correct size and design of shoe make for more enjoyable and higher quality exercising. The better the foot feels the greater the wellbeing of the whole person. For example, shoes intended for fitness walking and running should support the arch of the foot and correct any natural tendency of the feet towards incorrect alignment. The stiffness/softness of the material also significantly affects the functioning of the shoe. Good walking shoes contain sufficient room for the toes and have a firm sole. Correctly chosen shoes provide support and assist the correct functioning of all the muscles of the body during walking and other forms of activity.

 

230820119829. TRAINING PROGRAMMES

The following training programmes detail the form, duration and intensity of exercise as well as muscle care, in other words, warming up, stretching and warming down. Pole exercises and stretches are numbered. The exercises are described in earlier sections of this book, i.e. “Warming up”, “Power training with poles on the spot” and “Warm down”. Begin according to your present level of fitness and work up gradually to the next level. Thus, if you initially follow the “Training programme for beginners”, after four weeks you can move on to the “Training programme for intermediates”. Remember, however, to read the whole book through so that you can better internalise the training programmes provided.

The heart rate limits are presented as percentages of the maximum. If you do not have the use of a heart rate meter you should exercise according to your subjective perception of the effort involved. The following guidelines are of help:

50-60% HRmax: No breathlessness or sweating. Exercising feels very light.

60-70% HRmax: Slight breathlessness and sweating. Exercising feels light but involves a certain amount of effort.

70-85% HRmax: Moderate breathlessness and sweating. Exercising feels quite strenuous. You are nevertheless able to speak comfortably and maintain exercising for a longer period of time.

85-100% HRmax: Rapid breathing, sweating and fatigue. Exercising feels extremely strenuous even for short periods. Best suited for competitive sportsmen/women and other peak fitness individuals.

  1. TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR BEGINNERS

( No background of exercising)

WA = warm up

WD = warm down

PP = power exercises with poles

Week 1

1. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 30 min, level of intensity 50-60 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 1, 5, 8

WD 21, 22, 26

2. TRAINING

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning 10 min:

WA 1, 2, 3, 7

3. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 40 min, level of intensity 60-70 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 1, 5, 8

WD 21, 22, 26

Example of training schedule:

Monday rest

Tuesday  training

Wednesday rest

Thursday rest

Friday training

Saturday rest

Sunday training

 

2. TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR INTERMEDIATES

( For individuals exercising 1 – 2 times per week)

WA = warm up

WD = warm down

PP = power exercises using poles

Week 1

1. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 40 min, level of intensity 50-70 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 1, 3, 6, 8

WD 21, 22, 24, 29

2. TRAINING

Interval training:

2 min walk, level of intensity 70-85 % HRmax

2 min recovery walk, level of intensity 50-60 % HRmax

duration of session 25 min

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 7, 9

WD 21, 22, 23, 27

3. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 40 min, level of intensity 60-70 % HRmax

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning:

PP 10, 12

Stretching exercises:

WA 1, 3, 6, 8

WD 21, 22, 24, 29

4. TRAINING

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning 15 min:

WA 2, 4, 7

PP 14, 15, 16

 

3. TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR FITNESS WALKERS

(Individuals training three times per week)

WA = warm up

WD = warm down

PP = power exercises using poles

Week 1

1. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 40 min, level of intensity 60-70 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 3, 4, 5, 8, 9

WD 21, 22, 24, 30

2. TRAINING

Pyramid intervals using poles, Nordic Walking intensity 70-85 % HRmax

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 min

Recover between intervals: 1 min walking, level of intensity 50-60 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 1, 6, 8, 9

WD 21, 22, 24, 30

3. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 40 min, level of intensity 70-85 % HRmax

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning 5 min:

PP 12, 15

Stretching exercises:

WA 3, 4, 5, 8, 9

WD 21, 22, 24, 30

4. TRAINING

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning 15 min:

PP 10, 12, 13, 16

 

4. TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR ADVANCED FITNESS WALKERS

(Individuals training 4-5 times per week)

WA = warm up

WD = warm down

PP = power exercises using poles

Week 1

1. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 60 min, level of intensity 70-85 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 8, 9

WD 23, 24, 30, 31

2. TRAINING

Pyramid interval Nordic Walking,

level of intensity 70-85 % HRmax

2,3,4,5,6,7,6,5,4,3,2 min

Recovery between intervals: 1 min walking, level of intensity 50-60 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 6, 7, 9

WD 22, 23, 24, 30

3. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 50 min, level of intensity 60-85 % HRmax

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning:

PP 12, 15, 17

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 8, 9

WD 23, 24, 30, 31

4. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Jogging 30 min

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning 8 min:

WA 3, 4, 7

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 8

WD 23, 30

5. TRAINING

Nordic Walking on inclining terrain 40 min, level of intensity 70-90 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 4, 8, 9

WD 21, 22, 23, 29, 31

 

5. TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR PEAK FITNESS WALKERS/SPORTSMEN(WOMEN)

(Individuals training 4-6 times per week)

WA = warm up

WD = warm down

PP = power exercises using poles

PPM = power exercises using poles when moving

Week 1

1. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 60 min

level of intensity 60-85 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 4, 8, 9

WD 21, 23, 24, 25, 26

2. TRAINING

Pyramid interval (inverted pyramid) Nordic Walking, level of intensity diminishing from the maximum: 6,5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5,6 min

Recovery between intervals: 1-2 min walking, level of intensity 50-60 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 8, 9

WD 21, 24, 25, 26

3. TRAINING

Session up gentle incline 30 min:

PPM bounding, leaping, hopping, springing

Pole exercises for muscle conditioning:

PP 10, 11

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 8, 9

WD 21, 24, 25, 26

4. TRAINING

Nordic Walking on soft terrain 50 min, level of intensity 60-85 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 8, 9

WD 21, 24, 25, 26

5. TRAINING

Power hill training with poles 60 min, level of intensity 60-90 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 3, 8, 9

WD 21, 24, 25, 26

6. TRAINING

Even paced Nordic Walking 90 min, level of intensity 50-85 % HRmax

Stretching exercises:

WA 2, 8, 9

WD 21, 25, 26

 

10. References 

Anttila, Holopainen, Jokinen. Polewalking and the effect of regular 12-week polewalking exercise on neck and shoulder symptoms, the mobility of the cervical and thoracic spine and aerobic capacity. Final project work for the Helsinki IV College for health care professionals, 1999.

Butts, Knox, Foley. Energy cost of walking on a dual-action treadmill in men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 27(1), 121-125, 1995.

Foley. The effects of Cross Walk (R)´s resistive arm poles on the metabolic costs of treadmill walking. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1994.

Hendrickson. The physiological responses to walking with and without Power Polesô on treadmill exercise. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1993.

Karawan. The effects of twelve weeks of walking or exertriding on upper body muscular strength and endurance. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1992.

Knox. Energy cost of walking with and without arm activity on the Cross Walk dual motion cross trainer. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1993.

Larkin. Aerobic responses to 12 weeks of exertriding or walking training in sedentary adult women. Thesis University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1992.

Porcari, Hendrickson, Walter, Terry, Walsko. The physiological responses to walking with and without Power Polesô on treadmill exercise. Res Quart Exerc Sports 68(2),161-166,1997.

Porcari. Pump up your walk. ACSM`s Health and Fitness Journal Jan/Feb,25-29, 1999.

Rodgers, Vanheest, Schachter. Energy expenditure during submaximal walking with ExerctridersÆ. Med Sci Sports Exerc 27(4), 607-611,1995.

Stoughton. Psychological profiles before and after 12 weeks of walking or Exertrider training in adult women. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1992.

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