Torch calories and improve functional fitness with the farmers walk
Far more than simply walking whilst holding a weight in each hand, the farmers walk is a full-body exercise that can unlock your fitness potential. Engaging all your major muscle groups, boosting grip strength, improving posture, torching calories, and building cardiovascular stamina, the farmers walk is a one-stop-show move that will take your training to the next level, says New Body Plan’s Joe Warner
Looking to revolutionise your workouts with one move? Introduce yourself to the farmer’s walk. This dynamic exercise is more than just lifting weights and taking a stroll: done right, it’s your shortcut to achieving your fitness potential. By burning calories, targeting a wide range of muscle groups, and testing your heart, lungs and grip strength, the farmers walk outmatches multiple other gym exercises, making it a highly effective workout for achieving your fitness goals. Read on to discover all you need to know about this powerhouse move and how to seamlessly integrate it into your workouts.
TL;DR The farmers walk is an exceptional full-body exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, improves grip strength, and promotes better posture. It’s simple, efficient and versatile, making it an effective exercise for anyone wanting to burn fat, build muscle and improve their fitness in a single move.
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What is the farmers walk?
Farmers walk is a loaded carry exercise. The movement may seem quite simple as you just pick up heavy weights, one in each hand, and walk for a specified distance or time. However, this exercise is a functional fitness powerhouse, delivering an array of benefits. It’s a popular event in strongman competitions, but due to its effectiveness, it’s found a place in regular strength and conditioning plans too. Its main attraction lies in its simplicity: no complicated techniques or intricate equipment; just weights and your body.
What muscles does the farmers walk work?
Farmers walk is an all-encompassing, full-body exercise. Your forearms are targeted due to the grip strength required to carry the weights. Your trapezius and rhomboid muscles are challenged as they work to keep your shoulders from being pulled down by the weight. Your core muscles stabilise your body and maintain upright posture during the movement. Lower down, your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings are engaged, pushing you forward. Even your calves get a workout as they maintain balance and stability as you move.
Why is the farmers walk such a good exercise?
First, it’s a functional movement that replicates real-life activities like carrying groceries or heavy tools. This was underlined by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which says: “Farmers walk mimics activities that involve lifting and carrying heavy objects, making it useful for improving everyday functionality.”
Secondly, it’s excellent for building grip strength, a critical but often neglected area of fitness that enhances other lifts and daily tasks. Third, farmers walk is a great calorie burner. The effort of moving your body while carrying heavy weights keeps your heart rate high, leading to significant caloric expenditure. Lastly, farmers walk promotes good posture as maintaining an upright position is essential during the movement.
How do I do the farmers walk?
To perform farmers walk, start with choosing appropriate weights, a weight for each hand – these can be dumbbells, kettlebells, or dedicated farmers walk bars. Stand between the weights, bend at your knees and hips (as if doing a deadlift), and grasp the weights with a firm grip. Push through your heels to stand, lifting the weights off the ground.
Stand tall, chest out, shoulders back, and look straight ahead. Begin to walk, taking quick, short steps. Maintain a brisk pace without running or losing control of the weights. After you’ve reached your set distance or time, return the weights to the ground carefully, bending at your hips and knees, keeping your back straight. See below for more form guide info, as well as sample farmers walk session you can try!
When should I do the farmers walk in my workout?
When to include farmers walk in your workout depends on your specific health and fitness goal. Usually, it is done towards the end of a workout as it can quickly fatigue various muscle groups. Doing it at the end ensures your other exercises aren’t affected by fatigue. However, if your goal is to improve grip strength, you may want to do it earlier in your workout when your grip is fresher. Remember, it’s always best to tailor your workout plan according to your personal fitness goals.
What equipment do I need to do farmers walk?
The primary equipment you’ll need for farmers walk is a pair of weights. Anything that you can comfortably and securely hold in each hand will work. Dumbbells and kettlebells are the most common due to their wide availability and range of weights. Specialised farmers walk bars are also an option. These bars have an area for loading weight plates and a raised handle, which makes them great for heavier loads. However, they are less common in traditional gyms and are typically found in strongman or specialised training facilities.
What other moves are similar to farmers walk?
There are many other exercises that are categorised as loaded carries. The suitcase carry is a single-sided version where you carry a weight on one side. This challenges your core as it works to prevent your body from leaning. Another is the rack carry, where the weights are carried at shoulder level. This works your upper body and core extensively as they maintain the weights at shoulder height. Each variation brings unique challenges and benefits, diversifying your workout and contributing to comprehensive strength.
Is farmers walk suitable for beginners?
Yes! The key for beginners is to start light with manageable weights and shorter distances. As strength, endurance, and confidence improve, the weights and distance can be gradually increased. The simplicity of farmers walk makes it easy for beginners to learn and perform, yet it offers enough versatility for continuous progression as your fitness level rises.
What else do I need to know about farmers walk?
Proper form is paramount when performing farmers walk to prevent injury and maximise benefits. It’s crucial to keep a strong, upright posture throughout the movement: no rounding of the back or slumping shoulders. Also, choosing the right weight is essential. The weights should challenge you, but they shouldn’t be so heavy that they compromise your form. Maintaining a brisk, controlled pace and breathing rhythmically can help you perform the farmers walk more effectively. As always, start slow and build up progressively, listening to your body as you go.
How to do the farmers walk
- Stand tall between two weights.
- Squat down, maintaining a straight back, and grab the weights.
- Push through your heels to stand up, lifting the weights off the floor.
- Walk forward with quick, short steps, keeping your chest up and shoulders back.
- To return the weights to the floor, squat down, keeping your back straight.
How much weight should I lift?
Begin with a weight that’s challenging but allows you to maintain good form. As your strength improves, gradually increase the weight.
Farmers walk progression exercise
Make it harder: Increase the weight or distance. This will further challenge your grip and overall body strength.
Farmers walk regression exercise
Make it easier: Reduce the weight or distance. This will allow beginners to master the technique before progressing.
Farmers walk sample sessions
1. Distance Challenge
In this workout, your goal is to cover a certain distance within a time limit. Choose a distance – say, 50 metres – and aim to cover it as quickly as possible. If you reach the end before your time is up, rest for the remainder of the time, then repeat. Try doing this for 5 rounds.
- Distance: 50 metres
- Time limit: 90 seconds
- Rounds: 5
2. Weight Ladder
For this drill, you’ll need weights of different sizes. Start with the lightest weight and walk a set distance. After each round, increase the weight. Your goal is to complete the distance with each weight.
- Distance: 20 metres
- Weights: Start with the lightest, increase with each round
- Rounds: Depends on the number of different weights
3. Density Training
Choose a weight and a set distance. Your goal is to complete as many rounds as possible within a set time frame. This workout will push both your muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
- Weight: Fixed
- Distance: 25 metres
- Time: 15 minutes, complete as many rounds as possible
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