Does Walking Build Muscle? The Truth


Walking is great.

There are so many health benefits associated with it that it would take far too long to list them all out here.

But one burning question you might have about walking is whether or not you can build muscle while doing it.

The short answer is no, you probably won’t build muscle through walking alone. However, it can tone your legs and core muscles, and if you step up from a brisk walk to an adventurous one you may just be able to develop some muscle.

We all could benefit from walking more, as the benefits it provides are numerous.

There’s a reason why just about every successful person in history went on plenty of walks, including some of the greatest thinkers on the planet such as the ancient philosophers, and it’s because there’s nothing quite like it.

There are few activities that can be relaxing or strenuous, full of thinking or completely devoid of thinking, practical or leisurely.

But there is one area that leaves a lot of people confused, and that’s whether walking is a good activity for building muscle.

To give you a clear idea of the muscle-building effects of walking (or lack thereof), we’re going to dive into the issue in this guide.

Walking for Fat Loss 

Before we get into the questions surrounding muscle development, let’s first take a look at the most commonly accepted walking benefits for weight loss.

Can just walking lose weight? Can walking burn fat?

Questions like these emphasize the fascination we have with the relationship between belly fat and walking.

We’re not all sports enthusiasts or athletes, so it’s normal to wonder whether we can get the weight loss benefits we’re after from walking alone.

The simple answer is yes, you can indeed lose weight just by walking.

Though there is of course a caveat: your diet also needs to be conducive to weight loss.

One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make when it comes to building muscle or losing weight is getting the exercise down, but neglecting nutrition. 

This is a surefire recipe for failure.

But, combined with a healthy diet, walking could conceivably be the only form of exercise you do to shed pounds.

If you stick to a regular walking habit, you will consistently burn off calories which could put you at the calorific deficit that’s necessary to lose weight.

What does walking do for your stomach?

You will also find that walking is an excellent type of exercise for burning belly fat, so it’s true that walking can be useful for both weight loss and fat loss.

As such, walking a mile a day to lose weight is an admirable goal and a great way to shed some pounds.

Does Walking Build Muscle in Legs?

While no personal trainer will tell you that you need to go for walks in the woods more regularly to build the legs of your dreams, walking can build or at least tone muscles in the legs.

It’s no substitute for leg day, of course, but a strenuous walk can do wonders for your leg muscles.

When you walk, you aren’t just putting your glute muscles through the motions, but you will also be targeting everything from the hamstrings to the calves.

Your legs were designed to carry your whole body weight from one place to another, and as such all of the muscles are meant to work in harmony to make that happen.

Walking at a relaxed pace isn’t likely to do a lot for your leg muscles, but going on adventurous hikes and fast-paced walks can feel like a workout.

Here are some top tips to get the most out of your muscles as you walk:

Engage Your Core 

Believe it or not, you can tone your abs while you’re out on an afternoon stroll.

Simply by engaging your core as you walk around, you can give the abdominal muscles a light workout.

There’s also the additional benefit of improving your posture as you do this, since tensing your core will help you stabilize your spine and walk upright.

Use the Treadmill

At the gym you can treat walking as an exercise to fit into your workout, either as a warmup or cooldown.

Does walking uphill build muscle?

To turn up the heat and shred your leg muscles, try getting on a treadmill and setting it to a steep incline for a challenging walk. 

Be Mindful

Yes, mindfulness is useful for more than just relaxing.

As you’re on your walks, pay attention to the movement of your legs, and as you do so try to squeeze your glutes and when it feels natural to do so.

By making the movement active rather than passive you can add some extra muscle engagement into the process.

Does Walking Burn Muscle?

There’s also another question many people have regarding walking, and it’s whether by walking you will actually burn off existing muscle.

This is an interesting question, and it makes sense since many muscle-bound fitness enthusiasts are terrified of running for this very reason.

So what’s the truth of the matter?

It’s very unlikely that walking alone will cause you to lose muscle.

It’s much more likely that any perceived loss of muscle mass you may experience is a result of a lack of training or a caloric deficit.

To blame your muscle loss on walking would be a stretch, unless you are literally walking for hours on end day after day. Even then, you would expect your muscles to stay in great condition with all the physical activity.

Now, when it comes to running, there may be cause for concern in this regard.

Intense cardio exercise can be responsible for reducing muscle mass, but again, provided that you are getting enough calories in your diet and hitting the gym regularly this shouldn’t be a major issue.

It’s also a question of what type of running you do.

While short distance sprints can actually help you to build stronger leg muscles, it’s the long distance running that will wear down your muscles over time.

So if you want to build muscle, you might want to leave your dreams of becoming a distance runner behind.

Frequently Asked Questions About Walking

What muscles are toned by walking?

When you go for a walk, you’re doing more than just toning your glute muscles, you are working out several muscle groups of the legs.

For example, you are toning the hamstrings, the quadriceps, and even the calves – which is why you might get tight calves from time to time after a long walk.

You can even bring your core into the equation if you make the effort to engage it as you walk, and the added bonus of this is you can help stabilize the spine and move with good posture.

Can walking change your body shape?

It’s a stretch to claim that walking as the sole form of exercise is enough to change your body shape.

That’s not to say it’s without health benefits, though, and in fact walking is good for you in many ways.

You can build cardiovascular endurance, tone your legs and core, and keep your body working as it should by taking regular walks.

Can too much walking be bad for you?

It’s unlikely that you will ever walk so much that it’s bad for you, but there is a limit of course.

Just like you can do yourself damage by drinking too much water, too much walking can cause problems if you aren’t careful.

Overexertion in any form is bad, so if you’re walking in the heat and not taking enough water on board or on a difficult hike, you can run into issues.

A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle

Walking can help tone the muscles in your legs and your midsection, but it’s unlikely that you will build muscle from this activity alone.

With that said, there are countless health benefits associated with walking so even if you aren’t able to build muscle with it you should stick to a regular walking habit.

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Article by:

Energetic Lifestyle Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Energetic Lifestyle Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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