Fitness trends like Bosu balls and the Thighmaster come and go. What sticks around are exercises that really work. That’s why the best trainers and strength coaches make movements like chin ups, squats, and shoulder presses the cornerstone of their workouts.
An exercise that should be included in all of your workout programs is the Farmer’s Walk. It’s a total body exercise that when done properly will strengthen your abs, back, legs, shoulders, and arms. Your grip strength, posture, and endurance will benefit too.
Unfortunately, few people do them regularly. My goal with this article is change that so you can reap the benefits of this awesome exercise. In it I will show you several ways to perform Farmer’s Walks, tell you what equipment is required, and give you ways to add them to your workouts.
Farmer’s Walk Basics
This is probably one of the easiest exercises to perform. All that you need to do is pick up a weight in 1 or 2 hands and walk. You can carry the weight for a set distance or time. While it is simple, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you are doing them as effectively as possible.
Lift the weight by squatting down with your back flat and lift by tensing your abs and pushing up from your heels, just as if you are performing a deadlift or squat. Stand straight at all times with your eyes forward and chin up. This will keep your head in a neutral position and reduce your risk of injury. Keep your shoulders pulled back at all times. When you begin walking use your normal gait. Use shorter steps when you become fatigued to keep yourself walking.
1. Traditional Farmer’s Walk
This exercise is done by holding a weight in each hand. Each arm should be extended and down to your side. Walk using the tips I list above for either a set distance or time. You can also do this walk holding a weight in 1 hand only.
This variation allows you to carry the heaviest weights and really trains your abs, legs, and grip strength.
Video demonstrating proper Farmer’s Walk technique. The athlete in this video is using Farmer’s Walk logs.
2. Waiter’s Walks
I learn this exercise from strength coach Dan John. It’s done by holding a weight overhead with your arms extended. Picture the way a waiter holds a tray overhead when walking through a restaurant. You can do this exercise holding a weight on 1 or 2 hands.
Waiter’s Walks help build strength in your upper back and shoulders. My posture and ab strength really improve when I am doing them regularly too.
Here’s a video that demontstrates the Waiter’s Walk exercise.
3. Bear Hug Walks
This variation is done by hugging a weight against your chest and walking for distance or time. You may prefer to use a sandbag something similar instead of a dumbbell or kettlebell to perform this exercise more comfortably.
Bear Hug Walks are great for building ab and lower back strength. Since you can use a fair amount of weight when doing them your leg strength and overall endurance will improve significantly too.
Check out this video to learn proper Bear Hug Walk technique.
All that’s really required to do this exercise properly is something heavy to pick up and carry. I like to use kettlebells or Josh Henkins Ultimate Sandbag. You can also use dumbbells or 2 barbells to which you add weight. If you don’t have any other equipment fill anything with a handle such as buckets or a duffel bag with bags of sand, flour, or something similar and you’re set.
Once you are able to carry 100+ lbs. in each hand you may want to invest in Farmers Walk logs which are available at several online stores including PerformBetter.com.
Adding Farmers Walks To Your Workouts
You can add these exercises to your regular workouts or perform them on one of your days off as a conditioning exercise. If you choose to do them on the days that you perform your strength training workout I recommend performing them last as a ‘finisher’ exercise to improve total body strength and endurance. Choose one type of Farmers Walk to do and perform 3-5 walks using the heaviest weight you can carry for 25-100 yards per set. I also like to occasionally perform an entire workout centered around Farmers Walks. What I do is perform 3-5 different types of walks (Traditional, Waiters, 1 and 2 handed walks, etc.) for several sets of 25-50 yards. I then finish the workout with 2-3 sets of kettlebell swings, pull ups, and plyometric push ups for a complete total body workout.
Now you know what Farmers Walks are, its benefits, and how to add them to your workout. Give them a try and I guarantee that you will find they help you get stronger, fitter, and build the body you want faster.