The Farmer's Walk, long embraced by strongmen, is one of the best ways for athletes to enhance their strength, stamina and endurance. It involves walking for a set distance or time while carrying weight. The exercise is fairly simple, but performing it properly is the key to preventing injury and maximizing results.
Farmer's Walk How-to
- Stand between two sets of weights—dumbbells, kettlebells or custom barbells.
- Place your hands in the middle of the weights to avoid tipping them.
- Brace your core and glutes and drive through the floor to lift the weights.
- Straighten your posture, get tall, look straight ahead.
- Take small, quick steps for the allotted distance or time.
- Put the weights down in a controlled manner. For the safety of all involved, do not simply drop the weights on the ground.
How much weight you use depends on your abilities and goals. Some trainers suggest a range of 0.5 times body weight for beginners to 1.5 times body weight for advanced athletes. Starting light is good. It will give you a sense for the movement. From there, you can slowly increase the weight.
There are two basic ways to perform Farmer's Walks—for time or for distance. If you're going for time, your goal is to perform a constant Farmer's Walk for a set time, such as 30 seconds. For more structure, you can use a set distance. For longer distances, (40 to 60 meters), you should carry lighter weights. Shorter "sprint" distances (anything less than 15 meters) allow for heavier weights, often close to the maximum amount you can carry. You can use a medium weight for middle distances (15-40 meters).
Farmer's Walks can be performed at any time during a workout, but they're most commonly done toward the end or as a finisher. The Farmer's Walk is an energy-draining exercise that challenge nearly every component of strength, so performing them toward the start of a workout could put you at a disadvantage.
The Farmer's Walk activates nearly every muscle group. The core braces and stabilizes the entire body. Grip strength in the hands, wrists and forearms is a necessity. The upper back works to keep the shoulders and chest from sagging. The legs obviously propel the walk, and the cardiovascular system is engaged throughout the entirety of the movement. As a result, your entire body is put to work burning fat and creating lean muscle stores.
Frequency and Progressions
Given its substantial benefits, you might be tempted to perform the Farmer's Walk often, or overdo the amount of weight you use. But more isn't always better. With a manageable weight, two or three sets per session should be more than enough for you to start seeing results. As you begin to master the exercise, you can progress to more loaded carries and work them into your routines to further enhance your gains.
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