Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Farmer's Walk

I've been doing farmer's walks since the late 90s. Even before I started competing in strongman I would use the farmer's walk with 100-lb dumbbells as a finisher after every workout. With all the practice I've had with them it would be nice if I was a lot better at them than I am. The most I've ever used in training without straps was (I think) 265 per hand for a little over 20 paces and I probably weighed in the mid-180s at the time. The most I've used in competition, obviously without straps, is 211 per hand. I can't remember what the distance was but I can tell you it was well over 20 paces.

I've found that in training I actually get better results with shorter distance carries using heavier weights. I'll go for distance as a warmup, as far as I can get with just over 100 lbs until it falls from my hands, but after that the bulk of my farmer's walk workouts tends be be around 10 sets of 20 or so steps at a time.

I also don't bother practicing the turn other than whatever might be necessary during the warmup set. I might do a few turns with a poundage around what I might use in competition but it's very minimal at best. The turn is a pain in the ass and it's going to be a pain in the ass whether you've practiced it in training or not. I'd rather practice with the heaviest possible weights so that whatever I end up using in competition feels that much lighter, including during the turn.

Another thing I do differently from most in training for the farmer's walk is to use straps for my heaviest sets. A lot of people, especially online for some reason, see this as almost blasphemy but that's because they view the farmer's walk as a grip exercise rather than a total body strongman event. When you use straps it takes the grip out of the equation and lets you use more weight so you can focus on other areas that might be a weakness that you may not have even thought about otherwise. The shoulders, hips ankles and feet come immediately to mind. Recently I worked up to 295 per hand for around 20 steps using straps and I think I can go even heavier than that. That weight is pretty light for a heavyweight strongman competitor, but I'm not a heavyweight.

You can't really see the weights in those pictures but on each side there's a 50, two 10s, another 50 and then two more 10s. That's just the way it ended up being that day. The handles themselves are 15 lbs each.

So there you go. My treatise on the farmer's walk. Don't whine that I don't post enough training information.

This is what a human adult male's arm is supposed to look like.
215 lb farmer's walk handle in one hand, 95 lb dumbbell with a two-inch thick handle in the other.
 Just another fun way to practice the farmer's walk.
It looks like my ankle is broken but that's actually a water bottle by my foot.
Heavy farmer's walks with straps have made my ankles indestructible.


  1. I got some farmers walk handles a lot like yours made by a guy who was offering them on I had to leave them along with practically all my other stuff back at my mother's house when I moved to the city 2 years ago. All I have here at my flat is a dip station, a sandbag, a weighted vest and a ton of standard size weight plates. Interestingly, training became a lot more effective once I had a more limited selection. More inventive too. In fact, something else that made my training take off was becoming a father 3 months ago. Once you have that complication in your life, things like figuring out how to lift weights becomes laughably easy. I can't remember the last time I completed a "workout" in the same time block. Its destroyed anything I thought I knew about training previously. Most days I'll fit in a set wherever I can over an entire evening. Apparently the amount of rest I get between sets means I should be wasting my time. Actually I'm getting stronger faster now than I was before my daughter born and since I'm not spending scheduled hours doing it, I don't even feel like I work out anymore. Diet is something else I used to obsess about. When my wife was in labour I lived on McCoys crisps for about 6 days. It did not turn me into a weak cripple and I actually looked pretty good afterward. Anyway, since you reminded me how much I used to enjoy them, I'm going to start doing farmer's walks again. It'll have to be with dumbbells out on the street, which is actually a very steep hill, but what the fuck.

  2. Thanks for the info. I will be doing these soon for a barrel-carrying contest. Of course the barrels are not very heavy.

  3. Time constraints and lack of equipment force you to zero in on what's most effective.