The farmer’s walk is about as simple as an exercise/movement can get. That being said, the benefits of this movement are anything but simple, many of which can be amplified by the lifter’s ability to lift heavier loads or carry things for prolonged periods of time.
In this article, we will discuss seven reasons why every athlete and fitness goer should perform farmer’s walks with a variety of loads, objects, distances, and timed sets.
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Farmer’s walks are an homage to many men and women who have used their hands and bodies daily to the fullest. The ability to grip, pull, and hold anything in your hands is key to strength movements such as the deadlift. By increasing grip strength, people can often grip and rip heavier barbells and objects while maintaining proper technique and control.
Gain Muscle Mass and Hypertrophy
Increasing the time spent under load (with controlled tension) can increase systemic hypertrophy and hormonal output. The ability to load for prolonged periods of time (also with heavy weights) can impact one’s ability to gain size and strength.
Increase Postural Strength and Control
When carrying loads during walking and/or moving in various environments, postural control and strength is needed to allow for proper integrate movement to ensure efficiency and integrity of the vulnerable aspects of the body (spine). By doing loaded carries, you are able to train the deeper tissues around the spine. Doing so can enhance movement patterning, postural strength and control in movements like squats, presses, and deadlifts.
Enhance Core Stabilization and Bracing
If you have ever done heavy farmer’s walks you will know how challenging they can be to your spinal stabilizers. The ability to resist spinal rotation, flexion, and extension is key to injury prevention and force production, leaving the farmer’s walk a great way to challenge the body in an open environment that can have high transferability to real life and more fixed situations (squats, deadlifts, pressing, etc).
Improved movement under load, enhanced balance and coordination, and the mental grit and focus needed to maneuver with carrying heavy dense objects can really impact sports such as functional fitness, strongman, American football, tactical training, etc. Often, strength and power athletes become VERY sagital in their movements, and farmer’s walks are a great way to add some non-linear movement (walk in circles, around cones, etc) to help keep the brain and motor units sharp.
Improved Work Capacity
Movements like sled training, weighted walking, Yoke carries, and farmer’s walks are all amazing ways to improve muscular and mental endurance without sacrificing your hard earned muscle and strength. Farmer’s walks can be done with light to moderate loads for prolonged periods of time, or heavier and shorter. Each can be used to increase muscular performance and work capacity for strength, power, and fitness athletes. I recommend either doing them heavy at the end of a session and/or taking some time to carry lighter loads for longer periods of time (90 seconds) to induce muscular hypertrophy and endurance.
Maximize Pulling Strength
The stronger your hands, forearms, and back is during deadlifts and other pulling movements, the better. Farmer’s walks are a great way to add additional pulling volume into training sessions to add quality muscle mass, improve grip strength, and enhance overall pulling abilities for lifters of all levels.
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