And when Dan speaks, you should listen.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Benefits of Farmer’s Carry
- Posture – Carrying heavy weights in your hands with rounded shoulders will not only be uncomfortable but increase the likelihood of injury. You may also fall on your face.
- Breathing patterns – Try breathing into your chest when you’re lugging around heavy weights. It might be harder than you think.
- Shoulder stability – Your rotator cuffs will be taxed to keep your shoulders in your sockets. Ensuring they’re strong enough to do that effectively is a high value add to your physicality.
- Core and hip stabilizers – Every step of the farmer’s walk is a single leg stance, hence maintaining an upright position without tipping to one side or the other requires these stabilizers to be up to snuff.
- Grip strength – While delving into the importance of grip strength is a worthwhile endeavor, when it comes to farmer’s carries, the benefits should be obvious.
When carries are paired with other exercises and added to your training routine, they offer an extra boost to your fat loss efforts.
The workouts below can increase your demand for oxygen, known as EPOC or Excess Post Oxygen Consumption that’s required to get back to homeostasis after a tough training session or exercise circuit.
Think of it as your body’s way of playing catch up.
Every liter of oxygen you breathe in, you burn approximately five calories. By increasing your O2 requirements (a result of doing these workouts), odds are you’ll enhance your fat loss. (1) They may improve your conditioning too.
Consider adding one of these four finishers to the end of your routine.
Walking with an unstable load unilaterally for 10 minutes can pose quite the challenge.
- Start with one 18, 26, or 35 pound kettlebell depending on your strength level.
- Hold the kettlebell bottoms up overhead.
- Keep your biceps by or behind your ear and walk.
- After you lose your grip: stop and reset.
- After you lose your grip for the second time: bring the bell into the rack position and continue walking.
- Once you lose neutral wrist position or your upper back is exhausted: hold the bell suitcase style and keep on walking. Do this for a total of five minutes on each side.
Carry and Swing
The combo of the carry and swing under the watchful eye of the clock will likely have you sucking in air.
- Two-handed kettlebell swings 8-12 reps
- Suitcase carry for 40 yards.
- Alternate hands on the suitcase carry after each round of swing.
- Do one round (one carry is equal to one round) every minute on the minute. For example, If one round takes you 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds before you start your next round.
- Do 6-10 rounds (3-5 on each side) or until your grip gives out.
Turkish Get Up/Overhead Carry
The Turkish get-up combined with overhead carry aims to work your stabilizers and get your heart rate high.
- Set the timer for 10 minutes and make sure you have space to walk.
- Perform a full Turkish get-up.
- Walk with the overhead carry for 40 steps, keeping your bicep behind or by your ear.
- Reverse the Turkish get-up.
- Swap hands and repeat steps 2 through 5.
- Continue alternating sides for 10 minutes or until you give out.
Double Kettlebell Front Squat/Farmer’s Carry
This is an altered version of Dan John’s Eagle workout which consisted of 8 kettlebell front squats and 40-yard carry for 8 rounds. For this workout, start with 8 front squats and reduce the reps by 1 or 2 each round for a total of up 8 rounds (if you fatigue before you get to round 8 that’s okay, these should not be easy).
If you believe you are up to the challenge of the Eagle, be my guest. Just keep yourself honest on form going into the later rounds.
- Choose a pair of 24kg or 32kg kettlebells depending on your strength level.
- Clean the bells into the rack position.
- Perform 8 front squats.
- Unrack the bells to your sides.
- Walk 40 yards.
- Repeat steps 2 through 5 (lowering the reps on step 3 as needed).
- Continue until you’re done.
Note: The kettlebells should not leave your hands the entire time.
When it comes to fat loss and grip strength, nothing beats the farmer’s carry and its many variations. Carries can help improve your conditioning, your physical and mental toughness, and burn up those calories.
- Schleppenbach LN, et al. Speed- and Circuit-Based High-Intensity Interval Training on Recovery Oxygen Consumption. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017 Nov 1;10(7):942-953.
Feature image from Brian DeBaets YouTube channel.