Increasing Your Speed

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The average walking pace is just over 3 miles per hour.  A brisk walking pace is around 4 mph. If you use the correct Nordic walking technique you can increase, and maintain, your walking speed well beyond a brisk walking pace.  This is fabulous news for your heart and indeed the rest of your body. Nordic walking improves your total fitness.

Posture – the foundation
If you don’t get your posture right you will not be able to Nordic walk fast for long, or just plain walk for long frankly, without your back or neck taking a hammering. Remember these key points:

  • Walk tall – feel the length in your spine and the gap between your ears and shoulders.
  • Head up, eyes down, looking about 12-20 ft in front of you. Don’t stick your head back – your chin should be parallel to the ground.
  • Neutral spine all the time, so keep your bottom tucked in!
  • RELAX – shoulders soft; don’t be rigid; let it flow.

Upper body – arm swing 
Concentrate on pushing your arm backwards not about swinging forwards.

Below the belt
Lean (slightly, from the ankles) to switch your core and glutes on. Incidentally, your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body so don’t waste its potential or power.  Get those feet working – heel-toe, squeezing that lemon under your foot and pushing off with your toes to get momentum and power.

Hill tips
Going up hill, try and keep your arm swing long and powerful. Don’t bend at the waist and keep your chest open to get that oxygen in!

Downhill can be tricky so remember to keep you knees bent (the steeper the drop the more you should bend your knees) and your core and glutes engaged. Your centre of gravity should be behind your knees.



  • Try to force your pace by over striding, you’ll just end up hurting your back and maybe your knees.  Instead, increase the strength of your push and this in turn will increase your pace and lengthen your stride.
  • Bob up and down – it just wastes energy that could otherwise be used in pushing you forwards faster.


It is a common mistake for walkers who are trying to walk briskly to try and lengthen their stride in front, reaching out further with their leading foot. Not only will it feel awkward but it will jar your shins and can actually have a breaking effect, the opposite of what you want!  Instead concentrate in particular on these two things:

  • Rolling from your heel to toe and pushing off firmly with your toes (all of them, evenly, not just your big toe!)
  • Pushing back quickly but smoothly with your pole, making sure that you push down into the ground, using your triceps and utilizing those powerful mid back muscles, your ‘lats’

Your stride length will increase automatically and naturally if you focus on the above.


Finally, everyone has their our own optimum walking pace so do not worry about how fast other people are going.  You want a pace which is fast enough to improve your cardiovascular fitness but doesn’t leave you gasping for breath. It has nothing to do with your length of stride but is more a measure of your cardiovascular fitness and stamina. As a rule of thumb, if you’re walking and talking easily you are not pushing your fitness boundaries (but you will be reaping other health benefits).  Your optimum pace will be one where you can talk, but only in short sentences, before needing to take a breath.  It is good to build this into every walk that you do.  By doing so your strength, stamina and overall fitness will increase.  You will also burn lots of calories!

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