At one point I arrogantly and incorrectly assumed that walking was for overweight, unfit people.
In this post, I’m going to share with you three different people who are successful entrepreneurs, inventors, and legendary strength athletes with world records who changed my mind – and perspective – on daily walks.
I am grateful for these three who have gone against the grain of the strength training community, where walking is generally seen as not something that strong people do, let alone some of the strongest.
Not all cardio is equal
Walking often gets overlooked, but has many of the same benefits of cardio at higher intensities, but without the fatigue cost and injury risk, not to mention unique effects walking has on improving biomarkers, such as insulin levels (even when compared to running).
I used to be a cardio junkie and distance whore. As someone who has done a 126 mile (202km) cycle race and swam 7.5miles (12km) a week when training for long distance cold water ocean swims, I’m no stranger to cardio. But walking never even came up as an option – in my mind it didn’t count as cardio.
The cliche in powerlifting circles is that anything over 5 reps is cardio. While this is a worn out caricature, there are actually many athletes with this type of view. In general cardio is something that competes with strength training on at least seven conceptual levels – so as strength athletes we have to be very selective about our cardio. (Have a look at this video by Dr. Mike Israetel where he goes into more detail about these levels.)
There is more and more research accumulating about the unique benefits of walking, that make it a logical integration into a strength training program.
Benefits of daily 10 minute walks
- Its sustainable
- 10 minute walks after meals improves digestion and reduces gas and bloating.
- Help control blood sugars (twice as effective as Metformin)
- They’re convenient
- Great for you back and joints
- Weight loss (3 ten minutes walks is better than one 30 minute walk)
- 10 minute walks lower all-cause mortality
- Improves sleep
- 10 minute walks are better than 10,000 steps a day.
- They’re great for the entire family.
Three strong men who do 10 minute walks
All three men are committed to providing value to the sport they love and leaving a lasting impact on it besides just their numbers from their days of competing. They promote healthy habits and 10 minute walks.
It should be mentioned though that all three advocate for walking outside in nature which has a lot of evidence to improve numerous health biomarkers even hours after being outside.
Both Mark Bell and Stan Efferding have had a very big impact on my approach to health and training.
Stan Efferding (The Rhino)
The World’s Strongest IFBB Pro, founder of The Vertical Diet and inventor of the Kooler. He has coached top UFC fighters and two of the worlds strongest men (WSM) Brian Shaw and Hafthor Bjornsson and many other strength athletes at the elite level.
Stan has done a lot to promote 10 minute walks, on various podcast interviews, and in his YouTube videos raising awareness about the health benefits and encouraging others to do them too. He did a series on YouTube where he would do ‘rant’ videos during his 10 minute walks.
A random tidbit about Stan – as others have noted Stan is the most eloquent and well spoken bodybuilder.
- Raw Squat no knee wraps – 854.2 lbs (387.5 kg)
- Raw Bench press – 606.3 lbs (275 kg)
- Raw Deadlift – 837.5 lbs (380 kg)
“Compliance is science. No matter what you want to accomplish in life, you have to be consistent and persistent.” – Stan Efferding
Mark Bell (Smelly)
“The strongest strength coach in the world (maybe someone can dispute this fact, but I don’t know who)”
Mark Bell is a self professed Meathead Millionaire. Mark does a lot of good and in a bid to give back to the sport he made his gym free for anyone to train at. Mark constantly puts out so much valuable information about overcoming addiction, healthy habits, coping skills, emotional maturity and being a better person and making the world a better place, practical advice on how to overcome obstacles and taking ownership of your life.
He regularly shares life lessons and insights while on his 10 minute walks. He also has a podcast – Mark Bell’s Power Project – which is one of my favorite podcasts where they often talk about their 10 minute walks.
Mark Bell owns one of the top powerlifting gyms called “Super Training Gym “The Strongest Gym In The West”. He ranks in the top 10 all-time in powerlifting, with a total of 2,628 lbs and has coached over 20 of the top American powerlifters.
Mark’s lifts (all equipped)
- Squat: 1,080 lbs (489 kg)
- Bench press: 854 lbs (387.4 kg)
- Deadlift: 766 lbs (347.5 kg)
Notably, Mark has achieved elite status in FOUR different weight classes – most people will spend their whole life/career just trying to be elite in one weight class.
“Strength is never a weakness, weakness is never a strength”. – Mark Bell
Recently, powerlifting legend Brian Carroll has also started promoting 10 minute walks.
“Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world class powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury (involving a split sacrum, and flattened and bulging discs l-4/l-5 and l-5/S1)…most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching.” – source
Brian Caroll with the help of Dr. Stuart McGill – the world’s leading authority on spine biomechanics – wrote a book together titled Gift of Injury. It is a reframing of injury and the story of their journey of working together and getting him pain free and competing again even at an elite level post back injury (something normally seen as a career ending event in the strength world). I have the Gift of Injury on my Amazon wishlist, can’t wait to read it!
- 1030 lbs+ (467 kg) squat or more in 4 weight classes – 220, 242, 275, 308
- 1102 lbs+ (500 kg) squat or more in 3 weight classes – 242, 275, 308
- 755 lbs+ (342.4 kg) deadlift in 4 weight classes – 220, 242, 275, 308
Brian became the first person ever to squat 1,300-plus pounds (589kg). His bodyweight at the time of the competition was 303lbs (137kg), which means his world record squat was 4.3 times his bodyweight.
“Injury is not a life sentence, it can be a gift” – Brain Carroll
These three are doing so much to raise awareness of a simple but overlooked form of cardio for wellbeing and recovery – especially in the strength training community. You can’t be too strong to benefit from them.
10 minute walks for the win
10 minute walks are a simple and healthy habit to fit into your life and easy to maintain. Even if you don’t count on the potential health benefits, it gets you outdoors and improves your mood.
Walking is underutilized and under appreciated. Since my wife and I have been incorporating them we feel healthier and enjoy them. Sometimes small habits like this can have a big impact on our health.
I hope this helps you take a different look at walking and to give it a try.
We ought to take outdoor walks, to refresh and raise our spirits by deep breathing in the open air. – Seneca the Younger