The Farmers Walk has been a training tool for the strong for many years. Since 2005 we have been using them with people from different contact sports like rugby union, rugby league, fighting and football with great results. One of the main reasons to we use the Farmers Walk in our programming is for the brutal strength and power it produces both physically and mentally. To make this training tool even more awesome we use a combination of thick grip handles and standard grip handles. The 50mm thick grip handles are obviously a lot more challenging on your grip, although if you really want to be a beast in your sport a good bone crushing grip is something that will definitely help you :)
While working with rugby teams I found that those that could improve their 50mm thick grip farmers walk to at least 100kg in each hand for at least 20m (or 10m on those cold & wet training nights) would always end up being the strongest, most powerful warriors in their team. Not only that, I noticed that these people would also be the least likely to miss games through injury.
The Farmers Walk is a great challenge with its unilateral nature where you walk as fast as you can under control for a distance or time. It can build stability & strength in the ankles & lower leg complex, including big toes. It can help with knee stability by strengthening the VMO & posterior chain, while improving your ability to brace your midsection while breathing and moving, and lets not forget the workout your grip, arms, upper traps, shoulders and upper back all get.
We periodise the Farmers Walk in different training phases for different reasons, whether for general prep work, conditioning or strength phases. This will mean that the distances you carried and the weight lifted will both vary depending on your rest periods and training phase.
Here are few different ways in which we use them with our members:
Walking for distance
This is where you challenge each other to see who can carry the weight for the furthest distance.
It’s done by one person carrying the weight for as far as they possible can before the next person carries it back while trying to beat the distance set. This has made for some interesting contests where people have smashed their own personal records just to beat their training partner.
Walking for time
Depending on the training phase set up a distance you wish to carry the Farmers Walk - generally somewhere between 20-80m.
Then each person is timed to see who can carry the weight the fastest.
Walk with the weight until your training partner randomly calls out "stop" & then “start" at anytime during your distance as many times as they choose. Pick your training partner wisely ;)
This really challenges the grip by trying to control the swing of the implements during the stop & start phases.
This is great with a thick handle, where you compete with your training partner to hold the heavy Farmers Walk for as long as possible.
We generally use a weight you can use for a time of between 20-60sec.
Thick Handle to Standard Handle
Pick up the thick handled Farmers Walk and carry for a distance, place them down, then immediately pick up the standard handles and carry them back.
Farmers Walk & Lift
This where you lift the Farmers Walk up & down for a certain amount of reps somewhere along your distance.
This could be at the beginning before you take off, at the end of the walk, somewhere in the middle of the walk or any combination.
An example could be walk for 20m, then 3 lifts, walk another 20m, then 3 lifts.
A lot of times we use the Farmers Walk with a series of other exercises to give the ultimate challenge. Here is one way in which we have used this type of programming with a group of Aussie rugby girls:
A1: Log Lift & Press - 5sets x 4-6reps -
A2: Thick handled Farmers Walk - 5sets x 2x15m - Rest 10sec
(Carry for 15m, place down then pick up & carry for another 15m)
A3: Heavy Prowler - 5sets x 4x10m - Rest 3-5min
(Push hard for 10m one way, then race around to the other side of prowler and push back hard for 10m, repeat up and back one more time - focus on each start)
We find Farmers Walk training can be a fun way to challenge yourself, especially when you have your team mates or training partners there to push you. Only the physically and mentally strong survive, so remember to add in the Farmers Walk next time you train :)