Ed-Shoe-Cation

Can Walking Help Tone Your Bum?

How many people want to have a nice looking toned butt? Chances are, if you’re reading this, the answer is you wouldn’t mind a firmer tush.

How can this be done? 

Well, some of us don’t have to “do” anything it seems.  Certain people just seem to have that genetic edge that magically prevents cellulite from collecting in and around the rumpal region.  In this respect, it helps to be younger, when your metabolism is still firing on all cylinders.

Whether it be excellent metabolism, or the body diverting the fat into places like your bloodstream instead of your bum (which is not healthy, mind you), certain people just don’t seem to gain weight there in the butt area. 

Well, good for those people.  They’re probably not the ones reading this.  They’re no doubt busy sauntering about, oblivious to how much work it takes some of us to tone our butts.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who have un-toned butts and know it and don’t care about having a larger or just completely flabby posterior. 

At least, they don’t care enough to do anything about it.  They’d rather live their lives on the couch.  So be it.  We have nothing against them personally.

That said, if you’re still reading this, you obviously want to firm up that bum of yours, and you’ll do anything to make that happen.  Right?

Wouldn’t it be nice if walking, something so simple and available to most of us, was a great way to work on that butt?

Is Walking Good For Toning Your Bum?

This brings us to the main question – is walking good for toning your bum? 

This is a question many have asked before and many will ask again, because walking is one exercise that you can do almost anytime, anywhere, and without depending on anyone else but yourself.  You simply put on some good walking shoes, and head out the door.

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Yes, this entire website is dedicated to walking.  We here at BWSR always encourage a good walk, almost anytime / anywhere, and a comfortable one at that! 

Walking has so many benefits for your physical and mental functioning, there are almost too many to mention. 

But what you obviously want to know is about toning your butt via walking, and we’re here to provide as much info as we can on this topic, because the answer is this: it depends.  In other words, it could, but maybe not…it depends.

Why does it depend? Well, whether walking is going to tone your bum depends on many factors. 

How Far? – Just how far are you walking on your outing?  Are you going to walk around the block (0.2km) or take a good brisk walk for say 5km?  How far you plan on walking will certainly affect the outcome of that walk as it pertains to your physique.

Terrain? – What kind of terrain are you walking over?  Will you be hiking on a forest trail, or on your average everyday sidewalk?  Maybe you’re walking on a track made for walking.  This is yet another factor that will determine how challenging your walk will or won’t be for you.

What kind of shoes? – What kind of shoes are you walking in?  Some shoes are made for walking.  Some footwear is not, and can do damage to your body if you try to walk in them for extended distances.  Yet another part of the big picture here.

How fast are you walking? – The speed of your walk will also greatly affect things.  Again, if you walk around the block, travel 0.2km, and you do completely casually without paying attention to your form, or anything else, this is more of a relaxing stroll, and may not do the trick.  

Are you walking on an incline? – Does your walk take you up and down many hills, or are you basically walking on flat land?  This will determine the intensity of the walk and which muscle groups are pushed harder.

How’s your diet looking? – Remember that you can’t very well tone muscles if your diet is no good.  Every time you scarf down a burger or pizza, it’s going to take you further away from being in any kind of fit and trim shape.  You can try to walk it off, but it gets increasingly more difficult the worse your diet is.

These are some of the main questions we will discuss further in this article about toning up the ol’ caboose, because you can’t effectively do so unless you consider all of the above. 

So, now let’s dive deeper into the topic.

What Are The Main Muscles In Your Butt?

We need to ask this question, because these are the muscles you’re going to want to focus on in whatever given activity you are performing, whether it be walking, or something else.  That is, if you want to tone that butt.

For the record, the three main muscles in your butt include the Gluteus Maximus, the Gluteus Medius, and Gluteus Minimus.

What Does The Gluteus Maximus Do?

The Gluteus Maximus is the biggest muscle in your bum area and the one that most of us are going to want to target when toning. This muscle does a lot for us, as it is one of the most powerful in the whole human body.

For instance, it helps us to move our hips, our thighs, and allows us to extend our legs backward, which is a huge part of walking.  It performs feats of anti-gravity like allowing us to sit down.  It also cushions our tailbone when we do sit down.

So, clearly, we couldn’t walk without this muscle.  But what does walking do TO this muscle?  One might presume walking in any capacity would automatically keep the Gluteus Maximus toned to an extent.  Does it?

Before we answer that, let’s look at this highly related question:

What Muscles Are Involved In Walking?

Hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, Biceps femoris) – Located at the back of your thighs, the hamstrings help move your legs backward.

Quadriceps – Located at the front of your thighs, these are the biggest muscles in the body, helping to raise as well as push forward the thigh as well as the leg.

Glutes – Your butt muscles help to extend your legs backward, as part of walking, which we already showed you.

Stomach (abdominal) muscles – Every time you step, your stomach muscles contract.

Calves – Every time you take a step, whether walking or running, these lower leg muscles are heavily involved.

Arms and shoulders – Not at heavily used, but still contribute to the power of your stride if incorporated.

Pelvis – including spinal muscles, abdominal muscles, and external and internal adductors, all of these muscles keep you stabilized while walking.

Tibialis Anterior Muscles – Helps to raise the foot up as you walk.

Alrighty, now that we’ve taken a quick look at some specific anatomy, you can see that walking requires the use of a LOT of muscles.

The muscles in your butt, including the Gluteus Maximus, are only a few of the muscles necessary to walk, but they are definitely needed for the job.

Like we were discussing earlier, the big question so far is wondering if walking will naturally tone your butt.  In the beginning, we listed off the factors surrounding this question, such as how far you’re going, the terrain you’re on, the incline, etc.

But hold on, we really need to ask this question now:

What is Muscle Toning?

Let’s talk for a moment about muscle toning.  What is it, exactly?  We’re going to need to agree somewhat on what muscle “tone” even means.

To our understanding of this matter, muscle toning in fact has a dual purpose, which is – shed fat, and build muscle.

Clearly, if you are reading this article, regardless of your gender, you probably have some concept that a toned bum is not necessarily a weak bum.  And a weak bum might not necessarily be a small bum.

Surely you must admit that if you’re trying to tone your butt, you aren’t trying to shrink it down to nothing.  Nor are you trying to make it super huge to the point where it doesn’t even match your body. (see below)

Again, we must stress that whatever body type is fine by us, but we must say that our definition of muscle tone when it comes to butts is to have a bum that doesn’t have a lot of fat on it, but definitely has some muscle to give it some shape and tone.

While there’s no such thing as a perfect butt, there is such a thing as toned muscle groups, and that is simply what we are aiming for here.

We are well aware that these days really big butts are worshipped just like they were in ancient times, but you’re not going to meet anyone in the field of fitness who is going to encourage this type of body shape, no matter what.

Now, back to walking, and what it can do to tone your behind.

Benefits of Walking For a Firmer Butt

We admit, walking for a firmer butt isn’t as easy as just going outside and walking around the block.

We don’t think you should expect to walk around the block once a day, and expect that this short journey to give you the toned butt you want.

It’s definitely a good idea, for your health, but it’s not at a level of intensity to do your bum any huge favours tone-wise.

couple walking on a beach

We do want to emphasize two things right about now that are good and positive about any kind of walking you do –

1. Walking will burn calories, and if you burn enough calories (energy), it will eventually tap into your fat stores, and that’s what you want to do here – burn some fat.

2. Walking does target the glutes, including the Gluteus Maximus.  Yes, you are giving your glutes some action no matter how far you walk or at what level of intensity.  In other words, a short walk is better than no walk as far as your butt is concerned.

Gluteus Medius

As we mentioned earlier, there are 3 muscles that make up your glutes, and we’ve already mentioned the Gluteus Maximus quite a bit, since it is the biggest and most powerful of these muscles.  It also happens to be the one that people will want to target while walking, in order to tone it.

The Gluteus Medius is typically a very underused muscle, but it is right in there with the rest of them, helping the movements that allow you to walk.  But what does the Gluteus Medius do, exactly?

The Gluteus Medius primarily helps when performing a hip abduction.  This is where you move the leg away from the body, and we do this more often than you’d think.

We perform this movement when moving sideways, such as getting out of bed, our car, etc.  If we are moving sideways in some way, a hip abduction is being performed and the Gluteus Medius is being used.

In walking, the Gluteus Medius is generally used to stabilize our body, keeping us balanced as we walk forward.

Here is a video by Jeff Cavaliere over at Athlean-X, showing some exercises for this under-serviced muscle and talking about how it is indeed neglected.

While the Gluteus Medius doesn’t get the same sort of attention as the Gluteus Maximus, it is important to consider each of these muscles, not just because we need them to walk, but because we are talking about using walking to specifically tone these very muscles!

Gluteus Minimus

Despite it’s name, we can’t ignore the Gluteus Minimus.  This muscle, also part of our “butt” region, is there along with the Gluteus Medius and the Piriformis, to help us with our hips and thighs in terms of rotation and overall movement.

We mentioned hip abduction, but there is also hip adduction, which allows you to move your legs together rather than away from your body.

By the way, another great reason to walk, besides toning your glutes, is to avoid things like Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome.

Bad hips are something that can be avoided by walking regularly, just like Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome.  Walking, in general, is good for helping your overall mobility.  Avoid having a sedentary lifestyle, trust us!

How To Target The Butt Muscles While Walking

As we’ve said, you can’t just walk around the block and expect to transform your butt overnight.  You’re going to have to change up some of your walking habits to get what you want here.

Basically, you’re going to need to recruit the various Gluteus muscles as much as possible, and this can be done in a number of ways.

1. Walk up (and down) a hill.

The hill will offer your glutes more resistance, similar to doing a lunge or a squat, depending on how steep it is.  If the hill is quite steep, this requires a number of different muscles to engage as well.

Hills are what all manner of exercise gear bases their inclines on, and, as you probably know, a tough incline is…tough, and really works those glutes.  Kind of like a “Stairmaster”.

The other benefit of walking up a hill is that you’re outside and presumably breathing fresh air.  That fresh air fills your lungs and connects with your muscles too, making your trek up that hill a lot healthier than doing the same thing with an incline at the gym.  Plus, what a view!

2. Stop and do some lunges and / or squats mid-walk

If there’s no hill around where you’re walking, do some lunges or squats along the way, so that you can really engage those glutes once again.

Once again, we must mention that walking outside is just generally healthier than anything else.  A walk in the woods, a walk around your neighbourhood – this creates positive energy and is a great de-stresser.

The walk you’re taking, if it isn’t that intense, can get more intense if you stop to do something more intense like lunges and squats.  Try it next time you’re out!  Incorporate it into your walk bit by bit.

3. Mind Your Step, Stride, and Gait

Your gait is the manner in which you walk.  Your step is the distance from one footstep to the next, and your stride is the length of two steps (ie. left foot steps forward, then right foot steps forward).

Most people don’t think about how they walk, when they walk.  They just walk.

In order to fully engage your glutes, you might want to think about how you’re walking, since the way in which you walk, including how big your full stride is, combined with your speed, is going to very much effect the recruitment of your glutes.

But there is a delicate balance to consider here.  We don’t mean to say that taking longer strides is the path to butt toning, per se.

Of course, taking longer strides may require you to exert more force, and that may work out your glutes more.

However, if you begin to walk unnaturally in an effort to recruit your glutes, this may ultimately pose a problem and lead to some sort of gait abnormalities.

Power Walking and Race Walking

Have you seen power walkers walking before?  They take short steps, but moving very quickly.

They certainly do not wish to take long ungainly strides, but, then again, power walking is a sport and there are rules to this sport, along with race walking.

Here is an informative video by SlowPoke Divas TV showing the difference between power walking and race walking.  This is something you might want to look into as it can definitely lead to a good workout and good recruitment of the Gluteus Maximus.

Clenching Buttocks While Walking

Maybe you saw this one coming, maybe not.

Clenching your butt cheeks together periodically while you walk can strengthen your Gluteus muscles, although it will not make your butt round and / or firm.

Developing the muscle is a good thing, and we think that any conscious engagement of a muscle group is a good thing as long as it’s done right.

Many people who sit a lot for work do the butt clenching trick, but it can also be applied to walking.  We think that 5 seconds is a good amount of time to hold the clench.

Now, you might argue that you feel silly walking around clenching your bum cheeks together, but keep in mind that this is simply another option for active muscle recruitment, and you can give it a try and see how you like it.

It’s important you don’t over-clench, as you can pull muscles this way and that’s no good.

If there’s one thing we do know, and which we stated already previously, it’s that if you simply walk around the block once and expect that to tone your bottom, that’s simply not going to make your bum look like this (unless it already did look like this):

Conclusion

The good news is that walking can definitely be used to tone your bum, but you need to be well aware of the muscles in your own body that affect the look of a toned backside (ie. your glutes, primarily), and what level of intensity is required for you to put those muscles to work.

At then end of the day, they’re your glutes, and it’s your workout plan.

While some people are going to be hitting the gym and doing squats and lunges, lest we forget walking has other benefits that can improve our overall cardiovascular health in the long term.

If you want your walking to target your glutes, use some of the tips we offered above and leave us a comment to tell us about your results.  We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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