Farmer walks, are a staple of Strongman Competitions, and have become ever more popular for other athletes. The unique demands they provide for the body go a long way in helping train the strength of a body's "linkage". Teaching the body to work as one unit.
For the above reasons, Farmer Walks are great for simply building athleticism and strength. They're truly a great "big-bang-for-your-buck" exercise, efficient, and they don't require too much equipment.
The premise of a farmer walk is simple. Pick up a heavy weight, and carry it quickly over a distance. However, there are a couple things to be careful about.
1. Consider the Distance When Selecting Weight - If you're going to walk 100 yards you don't want to use a weight that will cause you're grip to start slipping at 20. As the distance gets greater the weight will need to be lighter or you could run in to issues. I find that usually a good distance for getting a good effect is between 20 and 40 yards for most people
2. Pick Up the Weight, Before Walking with It- A common mistake a lot of athletes make is that they want to pick up the weight as they begin walking. However, you need to give yourself a solid base to start from. Make sure you pick up the weight, and are standing tall. That means... Don't let your shoulders get pulled forward, and don't let your core go soft. KEEP EVERYTHING TIGHT. If the weight starts pulling you out of position before you even start walking, there's no question that you are using too much.
These are probably two of the greatest mistakes people make. There are lots of small mistakes but those are typically corrected when we give an athlete an appropriate weight, and make sure that they keep everything tight.
For most of our readers you are not a Strongman Competitor, and it is important to make sure that you perform these exercises well. Any exercise performed poorly can be dangerous, but when performed well the reward is immense.
As I mentioned earlier, the benefits of Farmer Walks, and their variations are huge. The act of building core strength while moving will help an athlete improve not just their strength, but even their power output, and also help with moving better. Basically, the unique core strengthening effect of loaded carries will help athletes have stronger, safer, and quicker lateral movement. Meaning everything from cuts on the football field, to breaking ankles on the basketball court.
If you're not doing Farmer Walks yet, you ought to be.