“Everything old is new again,” isn’t that the way the saying goes? And so it is with the Farmer’s Walk. This age-old exercise is making its way back into mainstream workouts, and with good reason. This full-body strength and conditioning exercise works all of your muscle groups while the sheer difficulty of the movement provides an excellent cardiovascular workout as well.
What is the Farmer’s Walk Exercise
The Farmer’s Walk really is as it sounds. Farmers are always out working in the fields and carrying heavy objects around. And that is basically the gist of this wonderful full-body workout. No longer just for the Strong Man contests, this type of workout is going mainstream. It’s gained in popularity because it’s a fantastic way to work your shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, back, core, legs, and grip. Basically, it requires an all-out effort.
How is it done?
1.You’ll start by clearing a path so you can walk forward without disruption as you hold a dumbbell in each hand.
2. Grab dumbbells (or some other form of weight) in your hands. Make sure when you bend over to grab the weights that you bend at the knees, keeping your back relatively straight as you do so. You can move your hips back as you squat down to retrieve the weights to prevent unnecessary strain on your lower back. Ideally, the weights will be the same amount so that the weight is distributed equally on both sides of your body.
3. Keep your posture upright and your shoulders down. Watch to make sure you’re not squeezing your shoulders up toward your neck. (This is easy to do if you’re not paying attention). Keep in mind, you are supposed to feel a stretch through your neck, shoulders, and traps. This is part of the workout!
4. Keeping your core tight, head up, and eyes looking straight ahead and your feet slightly apart, take a step forward, keeping your torso upright. Continue with small steps forward until you reach the end of your allotted space.
5. Optional: set the weights down at the end of your first walk, turn around, and then squat back down to pick them up again before proceeding with your return walk.
6. Remember not to lean side to side or favor one side over the other. Try walking in front of a mirror so you can ensure you are steady as you walk forward.
Benefits of Farmer’s Walk Exercise
The health benefits of doing regular Farmer’s Walks are numerous, but right out of the gate, two of the most important benefits are that of increased grip strength and core activation. This is another way to target both of those areas and work on progressively getting stronger.
Of course, the additional and obvious benefits are the work the upper and lower body have to do to complete each step. You’ll work virtually every major (and some minor) muscle group as you perform the movements.
And, last but certainly not least, are the cardiovascular benefits of using the Farmer’s Walk as part of a high intensity interval training (HIIT) program. Also try walking either further or faster to make this exercise more aerobic. You’ll not only gain strength with the regular practice of this movement, but you’ll increase your aerobic capacity as well.
Variations on the Farmer’s Walk
Do you always have to do the walk the same way in order to benefit? The answer is a resounding no! There are any number of variations you can try.
- You can try using weight on just one side at a time.
- Try using different types of weights like dumbbells, plates, a hex bar, kettlebells, full grocery bags… you name it. Your creativity is your only limit!
- For a more advanced version of the Farmer’s Walk, hold weight normally in your right hand, and on your left side, hoist a weight up onto your shoulder. Complete your forward walk and then switch the weights to the opposite sides. Finish your second leg of the walk.
The Farmer’s Walk Exercise: A Recap
You can include the Farmer’s Walk however you like, as long as it gets done! Take a day and make it your only exercise. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of walks with breaks in between. Or, use the Farmer’s Walk as some HIIT training, resting only briefly between walks. Lastly, you can add the Farmer’s Walk to your normal repertoire as either a warm-up (using very light weights) or as a finishing exercise to round out your workout.