30-Minute Walk with Strength Intervals

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Get your heart rate up and build muscle with this two-for-one walking and strength workout.

What’s better than a walking workout? A short, effective walking and strength workout that combines cardio and resistance training.

Like the 30-minute walk with cardio intervals, this workout mixes periods of walking and breaks for other exercises to increase the intensity—and improve your results. With cardio intervals, you did aerobics-based bodyweight moves. With this 30-minute walk with strength intervals, you’ll do muscle-building moves for your shoulders, arms, chest, back, glutes, and legs.

Bonus: You’ll move quickly between walking and strength intervals, so your brain and coordination will also get a good workout.

How the 30-Minute Walk with Strength Intervals Works

You’ll need a treadmill and a set of dumbbells. You’ll pause to do some strength moves during your walk, so choose a treadmill in an area with less foot traffic and some open floor space around it. If you’re not sure which dumbbells to use, choose the lightest ones you can find. You can always go heavier if the moves feel too easy.

You may also want to try the workout first without any dumbbells at all—simply pretend you’re holding dumbbells so you can get a feel for the movements.

Warm up with at least five minutes of easy walking or this warmup routine. Then perform the workout below, resting as needed. Cool down with deep breathing and stretches of your choice.

During your workout, pay attention to how you feel. Specifically, tune in to your rate of perceived exertion (RPE): On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest, how hard are you working?

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

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Exercise #1A: Walk on Treadmill

2 minutes, 6 RPE

Build up to a brisk walk. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest you can work, you want to be at a 6. You may be breathing harder, but you have enough energy to talk if you want.

At the end of the two minutes, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely to do your first strength interval.

Exercise #1B: Shoulder Press

Do 20 reps

Grab a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. With your elbows bent and palms facing in, hold the dumbbells in front of your shoulders. Make sure your arms are aligned with your torso, and brace your core. This is your starting position.

Press the weights up until your arms are straight. Make sure to press the dumbbells in a straight line above your shoulders, not letting them traveling forward or toward each other.

Pause, and lower your arms back to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.

Exercise #2A: Walk on Treadmill

1 minute, 6 RPE

At a 6, you may be breathing harder, but you should be able to talk if you want. After one minute, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely.

Exercise #2B: Squat

Do 20 reps

Stand tall with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Keep your upper arms in against the sides of your torso, and brace your core. This is your starting position.

From here, push your hips back, and bend your knees to slowly lower your body into a squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so. Pause, then push through your heels to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.

Make it easier: Skip the dumbbells, and do bodyweight squats. Good form with less weight is better than poor form with more weight. Plus, check out more tips in our beginner’s guide to the squat.

Exercise #3A: Walk on Treadmill

2 minutes, 5 RPE

At a 5, you may be breathing harder, but you should be able to talk if you want. After two minutes, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely.

Exercise #3B: Squat to Press

Do 20 reps

Here, you’ll combine the squat and the shoulder press. Stand tall with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart and dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Keep your upper arms in against the sides of your torso, and brace your core. This is your starting position.

From here, lower your body into a squat. Pause, then push your body to a standing position as you press the dumbbells directly over your shoulders. Make sure to push the dumbbells in a straight line above your shoulders, not letting them travel forward or toward each other as you press up.

Pause, and lower your arms back to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.

Exercise #4A: Walk on Treadmill

2 minutes, 2 to 3 RPE

At a 2 to 3, you should be using less effort and can easily hold a conversation. This is a recovery period, and you can take the time to breathe more deeply. After two minutes, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, and step your feet to each side of the machine.

Exercise #4B: Incline Pushup

Do 20 reps

Stand facing the treadmill console with your feet on each side of the belt. Place your hands on the grab bar, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Move your feet back until you are at a comfortable angle, keeping your arms straight and perpendicular to your body.

Bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest toward the treadmill, pause, and then press back up to straighten your arms. Keep your body straight throughout the entire movement, making sure to engage your abs and squeeze your rear. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.

Make it easier or harder: If you prefer, you can step off the treadmill to do pushups using a bench or on the floor.

Exercise #5A: Walk on Treadmill

1 minute, 7 RPE

At a 7, you’re working hard and can’t talk. After one minute, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step your feet to each side of the machine.

Exercise #5B: Shoulder Tap

Do 20 reps

Stand facing the treadmill console with your feet on each side of the belt. Place your hands on the grab bar, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Move your feet back until you are at a comfortable angle, keeping your arms straight and perpendicular to your body. This is your starting position.

Holding your plank position, lift your left hand to tap your right shoulder, and return to the starting position. Next, lift your right hand to tap your left shoulder, and return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Continue alternating for 20 reps.

Make it easier: Step your feet in closer to the console. The more upright your body is, the easier this exercise will be.

Exercise #6A: Walk on Treadmill

2 minutes, 6 RPE

At a 6, you may be breathing harder, but you should be able to talk if you want. After two minutes, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely.

Exercise #6B: Triceps Kickback

Do 20 reps each side

Grab one dumbbell, and stand with the treadmill on your right side. Take a split stance with your right foot forward. Brace your core, and hinge forward slightly from your hips. Hold the treadmill railing with your right hand and a dumbbell in your left hand with palm facing in. Row the weight up to your waist. This is your starting position.

Keeping your upper arm still and elbow tucked close to your side, straighten your left arm to raise the weight directly behind you. Pause, then slowly bend your elbow to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Exercise #7A: Walk on Treadmill

1 minute, 5 RPE

At a 5, you may be breathing harder, but you should be able to talk if you want. After two minutes, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely.

Exercise #7B: Biceps Curl

Do 20 reps each side

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing in.

Keeping your torso stationary and elbows tucked close to your sides, bend one elbow (not your wrist) to curl the weight up to your shoulder. As you curl, rotate so that your palm faces up. Pause, then slowly lower the weight to return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating until you complete 20 reps per side.

Exercise #8A: Walk on Treadmill

2 minutes, 6 RPE

At a 6, you may be breathing harder, but you should be able to talk if you want. After two minutes, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely.

Exercise #8B: Dumbbell Row

Do 20 reps each side

Grab one dumbbell, and stand with the treadmill on your right side. Take a split stance with your right foot forward. Brace your core, and hinge forward slightly from your hips. Hold the treadmill railing with your right hand and a dumbbell in your left hand with palm facing in.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bend your left elbow and pull the dumbbell up to the side of your torso. Pause, then slowly lower the dumbbell. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Exercise #9A: Walk on Treadmill

1 minute, 2 to 3 RPE

At a 2 to 3, you should be using less effort and can easily hold a conversation. This is a recovery period, and you can take the time to breathe more deeply. After one minute, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely.

Exercise #9B: Stationary Lunge with Left Leg Forward

Do 15 reps

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand tall with your arms down at your sides and palms facing in. Step back with your right foot, placing your toes on the ground and keeping your heel lifted.

From this staggered stance, bend your front (left) knee to slowly lower your body as far as comfortable. Allow your back knee to bend as well until it hovers a few inches above the floor, but keep your weight pressed into your front heel. Draw your lower belly in, and lift your chest.

Pause, then press through your front foot to raise your body back to standing. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Make it easier: Skip the dumbbells, and do bodyweight lunges. Troublesome knees? Check out four ways to make lunges easier on your knees.

Exercise #10A: Walk on Treadmill

1 minute, 2 to 3 RPE

At a 2 to 3, you should be using less effort and can easily hold a conversation. This is a recovery period, and you can take the time to breathe more deeply. After one minute, decrease your speed gradually to stop the treadmill. When it stops completely, step off safely.

Exercise #10B: Stationary Lunge with Right Leg Forward

Do 15 reps

Here, you’ll switch legs for the stationary lunge. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand tall with your arms down at your sides and palms facing in. Step back with your left foot, placing your toes on the ground and keeping your heel lifted.

From this staggered stance, bend your front (right) knee to slowly lower your body into a lunge. Pause, then press through your front foot to raise your body back to standing. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Make it easier: Skip the dumbbells, and do bodyweight lunges.

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