Few exercises are as simple and beneficial as Farmer’s Walks. The squat and deadlift certainly take the cake when it comes to compound movements, but they also bring in the added complexity of technique. Farmer’s Walks, on the other hand, are simple - pick up something heavy (dumbbells, kettlebells, a loaded trap bar, etc…) and move it from point A to point B, aiming to go as far as you can.
“But how could doing laps holding something heavy offer any benefits? It sounds too good to be true!”
My guess is that people tend of overlook Farmer’s Walks because they’re too simple. In today’s day and age, everyone is always looking for the next revolutionary machine or routine, not an elementary strongman movement. But, truth be told, simplicity often equates to substantial benefits – increased grip strength, increased cardiovascular performance, and increased core stability to name a few.
The forearms take a beating and the biceps, triceps and shoulders have to work heavily to stabilize the elbow and shoulder joints. The traps and musculature of the back must work hard to keep the shoulders up and shoulder blades pulled back. And, the core must remain tight to maintain proper posture while the legs take the brunt of the weight. The key to nailing the movement is keeping the shoulder blades pinned back and the spine tall. We don’t want to see rounded shoulders or an arched back. Hold the weight at your sides with palms facing your body and utilize a quick, steady pace.
Light to Moderate weight can be utilized for a longer duration to put the emphasis on metabolic conditioning. In fact, this can mimic the results typically achieved from doing rapid sprint intervals if you push yourself. Heavy weight can be utilized for shorter intervals to put the emphasis on strength gains. I would definitely suggest investing in a pair of lifting straps once you’re utilizing more than 50% of your bodyweight in each hand as you don’t want the forearms to be the weak link here.
As you would probably guess, utilizing both lighter and heavier carries will net you the best results. Programming light to moderate sets in at the end of every lifting session is a great way to finish things off with a challenging full-body metabolic conditioner. Programming a few heavy sets in on your shoulder or back day is a great way to reap the strength benefits as well.
Regardless of how you choose to add Farmer’s Walks to your routine, you can’t go wrong. This simple, but grueling, movement can help you get shredded and see surprising strength gains. Figure out where you want to drop them into your routine and get going!
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