The farmer’s walk (also known as the farmer’s carry) is a valuable addition to your training routine that can help build total body strength, but are you sure you’re even doing the exercise correctly?
For this movement, you shouldn’t settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it’s such a simple, essential exercise that can serve as one of the centerpieces of your training plan. Let Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the move’s subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.
Before pick up your weights and start walking, take note that it’s extremely important to pay attention the movement here. While farmer’s walks and other loaded carries look like such simple moves, your positioning is essential to make sure you’re getting the most out of the exercise. Let’s break down everything you need to know.
Organize Your Torso
Eb says: Don’t just start walking the moment you pick up the dumbbells. Instead, get your torso organized. The farmer’s carry can really hone your posture, but only if you make sure your posture is tight before you start moving.
So take your body through a three-step process before you move: Squeeze your glutes to shift your pelvis into neutral. Tighten your abs, because they should always be tight. And tighten your shoulder blades. Maintain this total-body tension as you move and don’t lose it.
Never Slump or Slouch
Eb says: Once you organize your body, fight for that tension and continually “check in” with your body positioning to make sure you’re maintaining it. It’s incredibly easy to get sloppy with your posture, especially as you fatigue, and people often fall into one of two traps.
Some let their shoulder blades come apart and slump forward. Others try to overcompensate and arch their backs excessively. Guard against both things by constantly talking to yourself as you walk: “Shoulders back, abs tight, glutes squeezed.”
Eb says: One of the best ways to train your grip is to grip heavy things. So take advantage of the fact that you’re doing that when you’re doing the farmer’s walk, and really tightly grip the dumbbells (or kettlebells).
Don’t just grip the bells, though, either; focus on keeping them fully level. By doing that, you’ll work your forearms in a balanced fashion that’ll translate to better movement and manipulation of the weight in other exercises, like biceps curls and dumbbell rows.