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Tyler Essary / TODAY

A strength-training routine for walkers: 9 exercises to help you walk faster

Barry's CEO Joey Gonzalez shares exercises that can prevent shin splints, improve your balance and help you walk faster.

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When you hear "Barry's" you probably think about ripped 20-somethings emerging from the class drenched in sweat. While the boutique fitness studio does have its fair share of hardcore exercises (which I learned firsthand), it also has an emphasis on cardio conditioning and building strength that is a smart training approach for people of all ages and abilities — walkers included.

If you're looking to add strategic exercises to your routine, Barry's CEO Joey Gonzalez put together this simple, but effective, strength-training routine for walkers.

"There are a variety of exercises included here that help with balance, core and lower-body strength — all important components to developing endurance for a strong and safe walk," Gonzalez tells TODAY.com. "These exercises will strengthen the muscles around your shin to help you avoid splints, as well as strengthen almost every muscle in your lower body to develop a more powerful and faster walk."

Strength-training routine for walkers

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Balance beam walk

Benefits: This exercise helps with core stabilization and helps improve balance.

How-to: Take one slow step forward and make contact with the front foot, heel to the back foot toe. You can do this with eyes open, arms up or next to a wall for assistance. If you want to make it more challenging, close your eyes. 

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Walk on heels

Benefits: Strengthens the muscles on the front of lower shin.

How-to: Take a slow step with the right foot, make contact first with the heel. Then step into the left foot, bring it forward, making contact into the heel.

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Walk on toes

Benefits: Strengthens muscles on the back of the calf.

How-to: Step up onto a toe point. Step forward with the right foot staying on your toe. Step forward with the left foot staying on your toe.

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Toe lift

Benefits: This exercise trains the front muscles of the shin and helps prevent shin splints. This strengthening exercise is meant to target the front of the shin and the muscles all around the ankle.

How-to: Place a weight or something heavy on top of your toes and slowly begin to lift that weight. You can do this exercise one foot at a time or with both feet at the same time. This can be done standing or sitting down.

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Calf raises

Benefits: Calf raises are meant to strengthen the back of the calf.

How-to: You can do one foot at a time, which is the more difficult version, or both feet at the same time. Either way, bring all of your weight slowly onto the ball of either both or one foot, flexing the back of that calf, and then relax back down to standing position.

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Plié squat 

Benefits: This works the glutes, hamstrings and all the same muscles as a regular squat, but also targets the inner thigh abductor muscles.

How-to: Take a wide stance; wider than shoulder width. Turn your feet out about 45 degrees. Lower your body slowly, moving your glutes back behind you. Go as low as you can. Then stand back straight up and squeeze through those glutes. This can be performed with or without weight.

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Platypus walk

Benefits: Standing and walking in this stance strengthens the core muscles, hamstrings, glutes and external rotators.

How-to: The platypus walk is essentially holding a plié squat and then moving forward in a walking position. This can be performed with or without weight.

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Split squats

Benefits: This strengthens the glutes and leg muscles and can also improve lower body mobility and help increase walking speed.

How to: Make sure you have a mat or towel underneath your knee. Step the right leg behind you and slowly lower down until your right knee touches the ground. Then drive through the left leg to straighten the legs. Perform 10 reps and then switch sides, stepping your left leg back. This can be performed with or without weight.

Gif of Joey Gonzalez exercising
Tyler Essary / TODAY

Step up

Benefits: This helps strengthen the hamstrings, glutes and other areas of the leg. They’re also great for stability and core strength.

How-to: Place one foot up on an elevated surface. Drive up through that leg to a standing position. The opposite knee pops up into the air and then hovers at hip height, before stepping it back down behind you onto the floor. This can be performed with or without weight.

Work up an appetite? Check out this hearty salad recipe from Gonzalez's husband, Chef Jonathan Rollo:

Roasted Beet Salad with Salmon