by Donnie Santos, U-District PT
In the world of fitness and strength training, athletes and clients are always looking for the secret sauce. What is new, flashy and most popular on my social media feed, is what will get me the results I want. Right? They forget about one of the most important rules when trying to get results in the weight room… Keep it simple!
The exercise you 100% need to have in your strength program is Farmer’s Walks. It is quite possible, there is no more basic or functional exercise in every trainer’s toolbox. Pick up a heavy object in both hands (or one but, we will get to that) and walk. No fancy equipment. No technical coaching. Just you versus the weight. Adding this will show real world results you can put in action right away. If you’re like me, you probably do your own variation of this trying to get every grocery bag from the car to the kitchen in one trip.
HOW WILL THIS WORK MY BODY?
Arms and Grip Strength – While it is commonly overlooked, I have yet to meet an athlete or person that couldn’t benefit from a stronger grip. Your biceps and triceps will have to work hard to stabilize your shoulder and elbow joints.
Back and Posture – These muscles will start to burn. The number one goal is to keep your shoulders contracted and your shoulder blades close. Not letting your shoulders round becomes increasingly hard as fatigue sets in.
Core – Yes, I know this isn’t part of your 5-minute ab routine. Adding weights to both sides of your hands requires your core to be tight and engaged during the entire exercise to ensure that you not only walk in a straight line, but your body isn’t swaying from side to side with every step you take. The muscles that stabilize your spine must work extra hard to resist any flexion, extension or rotation. This a great injury prevention exercise.
Increase Your Work Capacity – Moving fairly heavy objects for as long as you can and moving very heavy objects as far as you can will have you trying to decide which part of your body burns more… The muscles around your body, or your lungs!
WHAT VARIATIONS WITH WEIGHT ARE THERE?
For Farmer’s Walks, there are many variations that you can implement into your routine that will add to your routine that will keep exposing your body to challenges that will help you build strength, increase muscle mass and burn fat.
Basic – Grab two heavy objects (dumbbells, kettlebells, plates, etc.) and walk as far as you can. There is definitely a mental toughness aspect to all these variations. Keep going!
Suitcase Carry – Grab only one object and walk with it on your side. This increase the need for your core to stabilize and keep your feet moving on that straight line.
Fixed Object Overhead – Incorporating a plate, barbell, sandbag or any other object that requires both hands to
Single or Double Overhead Dumbbell – As the name states, taking the dumbbells or kettlebells from a basic walk or suitcase carry and extending them overhead is a progression from the two-handed fixed object. This is more challenging as you add an aspect of keeping each weight stable while moving forward.
HOW DO I PUT FARMER’S WALKS INTO MY CURRENT PROGRAM?
There are many ways to program this to fit your specific goals. Take these three factors and play around different variations every week.
Here is an example of what I am currently doing in my program…
- Day 1 – Basic Walk – 3 sets x Max Distance (50-60% bodyweight)
- Day 2 – Overhead Walk – 3 Sets x Max Distance (20-30% bodyweight)
- Day 3 – Suitcase Carry – 3 Sets x 30 yards each arm (Start light, add weight each set)
This is just the beginning. Play around with the variations with different weights and distances. The biggest thing I want athletes and clients to remember is to stand tall and keep your feet moving!
For help on getting a program to fit your specific goals please email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us at @udistrictpt and @jointhefitcollective on Instagram for training, nutrition and mindset tips.