Posted on May 24, 2016

Thought you might. What if I told you it was as simple as picking up a couple of heavy objects and walking with them? It’s true.

The farmer’s walk is a game changer.

This exercise is one of my favorite strongman events for a reason – it has serious impact on your strength and major carryover into your lifting.

Benefits of the farmer’s walk

Dan John stated that, “The loaded carry does more to expand athletic qualities than any other single thing I’ve attempted in my career as a coach and an athlete.” That’s some statement considering his experience. Moreover, Dan refers to the farmer’s walk as the “King of Carries.” This gives you an idea of the width and depth of benefits that farmer’s walks provide.

From day one I became a fan of the loaded carry family. You want grip, abs, glutes and the lung capacity of a Sherpa? Do farmer walks. You want a one-stop shop to excellence in most sports? Add to your farmer walk. You want to increase your ability to perform at a higher level without any new instruction or teaching? Pick’em up and walk with’em.

Loaded Carries

A loaded carry is where an athlete picks up and carries a heavy weight  for an extended period of time or distance. This can be done with various objects such as dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, stones, really any object that is challenging to carry.load carry pic 2

The loaded carry possesses  an array of benefits, most notably an increase in work capacity – the ability to perform real physical work as measured by force x distance/time (which is average power). Loaded carries also help improve endurance, grip strength, core strength, and build muscle. The loaded carry is one of the best all-around movements to perform. Not to mention, it compliments major movements such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press.

Load carries can be done in a variety of ways.

Farmers Carry (one object in each hand by your side).

Suit-case carry (one arm at your side)

Front rack carry (hand by the chest and shoulder)

Waiter carry (one arm above the head)

Overhead Carry (both arms over head) this is often done with a barbell or bamboo bar.

Building Muscle

The farmer’s carry is an excellent exercise to build muscle in the upper back area as it creates high levels of muscular tension and allows you to maintain that for an extended period of time. It has been shown to stimulate a big hormonal response for muscle growth.

Improving Grip Strength

Your hands provide the base for many gymnastic movements and all lifting movements grip will often be your limiting factor when trying to get stronger. Having a stronger grip will help you with any lift and even will help strengthen your shoulders. When you start to perform a farmer’s carry with some big weight, you will quickly find out that your grip strength is a limiting factor.

Improving Work Capacity

What is work Capacity & why is it important?

Supertraining author, Mel Siff defined work capacity as “the general ability of the body as a machine to produce work of different intensity and duration using the appropriate energy systems of the body.”

The Crossfit Journal has also described it as “ the ability to perform real physical work as measured by force x distance / time (which is average power).

Or think of it as  is, essentially, the total amount of work you can perform, recover from, and adapt positively to.

Farmers Carry is one of the best ways to improve your work capacity, conditioning & even your mental toughness.By putting the body under a load for an extended period of time, it will creates pressure in the chest and abdomen, challenging your breathing.

Increasing Core Strength

If you think the road to a strong core leads to a ton of sit ups, even though there’s nothing wrong with hitting some sit ups, in my opinion farmer’s carry is the best way to strengthen your core, reason being it is self-correcting, meaning if your core is not working right, you will know quickly with the farmer’s carry. You need to have a stiff and rigid spine to allow a nice, upright postural position. If you want to improve your core strength and posture, hang onto some weight, stand tall and walk.

Increased Shoulder Health

You can do all of the rotator cuff (RTC) strengthening drills you want, but you won’t be training the RTC like it is supposed to be trained. The main function of the RTC is to stabilize and loaded carries do just that.

In Dr. Charlie Weingroff’s fantastic DVD, Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training, he discusses how he uses heavy loaded farmer’s carries to improve shoulder function. Farmer’s carries help put the shoulder blades into a stable position and stimulate a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) response to the RTC muscles. This helps create a better position for the shoulder girdle area, helping it become stronger and more stable. He also notes that you need heavy weight to do this, so don’t use a small amount of weight on these. Load it up!

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