The farmer’s walk is often used as a workout ‘finisher’ – designed to push the body through a final test before ending a session in the gym.
But even if you only do a farmer’s walk in the gym today, you’re going to improve your overall strength. And you’re going to notice the benefits the next time you carry a week-load of shopping from the supermarket.
Benefits of the farmer’s walk
- Increases your capacity to carry heavier objects by testing your shoulders and traps (the main carrying muscles beneath the base of your neck)
- Tightens your grip by placing a huge amount of strain on your fingers
- Strengthens and tones your abs by forcing you to brace all of your core muscles as you walk
- Builds power and shape in your bum by putting your legs through a gruelling weighted walk
- Increases your metabolism and burns fat
- Works your entire body by training a variety of major muscles to work together
- Develops your mental strength by measuring how far you’re willing to walk
- Offers you a safe exit if you’re struggling – you can only drop the weights to the floor and so your head/upper body is never at risk of getting smacked
On top of these, the famer’s walk has become an attractive workout to thousands of modern gym goers because of its simplicity.
All you need is a spacious gym and a choice of heavy objects to walk with.
Many people use kettlebells and dumbells for the farmer’s walk. Seasoned ‘walkers’ may use specially adapted bars with handles. And some use powerbags for added unpredictability.
How to do the farmer’s walk
Even though this exercise is simple, it’s also easy to get wrong. And you run the risk of injury with poor form.
Anybody who knows how to deadlift (if you don’t check out our article How To Do A Deadlift) will be familiar with the following farmer’s walk instructions – but let’s run through them step-by-step to make sure:
- Get the right stance
Place the weights either side of your ankles – never in front of you.
You want your feet shoulder-width apart.
Pick a point on the floor that’s around six or seven feet in front of you, and keep your eyes locked on that point.
- Grab up the weights
Keeping your chest tall and firm and your eyes straight ahead, sit back and lower yourself into a squat position.
Clutch the weights in your hands.
- Stand up
Using your knees first, push your weight into your ankles to rise up.
Straighten-up by driving your hips forward.
Tip: Avoid lifting the weights with your hands and arms. Use your standing motion to naturally bring them into position.
- Set yourself
Roll your shoulders back one time and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Slightly turn each hand so your thumbs point outwards – this will recruit your lats (the muscles behind your armpits, often referred to as ‘wings’) into the exercise.
Maintain this stance as you walk and always look straight ahead.
Walk as far as you can.
Tips on the farmer’s walk form
- Keep your shoulders back at all times
- Do not continuously roll the shoulders as you walk
- Suck the air as you walk – avoid gasping as your chest can lose its form
- If you can’t help but slouch the shoulders forward, then you’re probably fatigued and should exit the workout (same goes for if you’re walking a little off-balance)
Some closing advice on the farmer’s walk
Scan the route you’re about to walk to make sure it’s safe and free of tripping hazards (sounds simple, but many people skip this part).
Start off with lighter-weights and longer distances. This will burn fat and develop your endurance, while minimising the risk of strain or jarring.
As you progress, reduce the distance and increase the weight – this will put your grip and upper body strength on a crash course for dramatic improvement.
Keep track of your distance/weight ratio and aim to ‘beat’ yourself every time. You’re training your mental strength here – and self-competition is a great way to improve.
If you want to know anything else about the farmer’s walk or if you have any questions about this in general, put your thoughts in a comment and we’ll get back to you.