The farmers walk is the simplest exercise you can do. Just pick up some heavy weights, walk as far as you can, and repeat. If they’re so simple, why aren’t you doing them?
I’d argue that a big reason they’re not used more often is because they’re TOO simple. Everyone wants the newest, hottest exercise, but what they really need to do is get back to basics and man up. The farmers walk builds muscle ridiculously fast, slashes body fat, increases strength and performance in the big lifts, and has very little risk of injury.
Holding a pair of heavy dumbbells, kettlebells or other weights in each hand will increase grip strength, which will help you tremendously during your next adventure race. Another great benefit of the famers walk is its effects on posture. If using a traditional variation, the weight of the implement will help break up tension in the traps and upper back, thereby bringing your shoulders back into a more natural position.
Traditional Farmers Walks are not the only variation that will benefit your adventure race training. With access to the sandbag and kettlebells, there are a host of ways to include sandbag training into your programming.
Farmers Walk Variation #1: Sandbag Suicide
First off is the sandbag suicide. This variation focus more on aerobic capacity than grip strength. This loaded carry involves placing a sandbag over your shoulder, much like throwing a person over your back. Set up a 20 yard course and mark off 5 yard increments.
To start, run towards the first 5 yard marker, when you reach that turn around and run back to the start. Repeat this in a ladder fashion, 5 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards. Rest and Repeat.
Farmers Walk Variation #2: Farmers Walk
The next variation traditional farmers walk. Start of by picking up a pair of torpedos, kettlebells, or dumbbells and stand straight up. Make sure to keep a center line of tension through your entire body.
Farmers walks should be done any where from 20-70 yards depending on your programming and conditioning. Begin by walking your set distance. For beginner’s stop, rest, and repeat. For more advanced lifters turn around and walk back, this extra effort will pay off exponentially for your grip strength.
Farmers Walk Variation #3: Staggered Carry
The staggered carry requires 2 kettlebells. Place one kettlebell in a strict rack position, and the other in a traditional farmers walk position. Maintain this position during the entirety of your farmers walk course. When you get to the end of your course, switch hands and repeat.
Farmers Walk Variation #4: Loaded Lunge Variation #1
Next is the first of 3 loaded lunge variations. This farmers walk variation will require two different implements, the sandbag and a kettlebell. Place the sandbag over one shoulder and press a kettlebell over head. Maintain this position during the entirety of your farmers walk course. When you get to the end of your course, switch hands and repeat.
Farmers Walk Variation #5: Loaded Lunge Variation #2
This next loaded lunger variation is extremely similar to the last. Place the sandbag over one shoulder but instead of pressing the kettlebell over head, keep it in a strict rack position. The last variation put more load on the shoulder, where this variation is focusing the load on your upper back. Maintain this position during the entirety of your farmers walk course. When you get to the end of your course, switch hands and repeat.
Farmers Walk Variation #6: Loaded Lunge Variation #3
Last but not least is the third in our series of loaded lunge variations. Place the sandbag over one shoulder and keep the kettlebell in a traditional farmers walk position. Maintain this position during the entirety of your farmers walk course. When you get to the end of your course, switch hands and repeat.
If you want to get really advanced, try all 3 loaded variations without placing the kettlebell down. At the end of each “rep” change kettlebell positions and repeat. When you finish all 3, rest and change hands.