As soon as I completed my first-ever farmer carry, the exercise was indelibly cemented into my memory as an all-time favorite, and one that I privately vowed to use on a weekly basis both within my own training and in that of our athletes and clients at SAPT.
You'd be hard pressed to find to find a better exercise that simultaneously develops core and hip stability, grip strength, shoulder health, structural soundness of the musculoskeletal system, promotes fat loss and lean body mass gain, gets you "yolked," and takes the cake for overall conditioning.
Not to mention (and stealing a phrase from my friend Tony Gentilcore), a heavy set of farmer carries will make any woman within a two-block radius spontaneously conceive. How about that one, science?
And, with large thanks to Dan John and his article, The Secret of Loaded Carries, the farmer walk has grown in popularity and an increasing number of people are appreciating how valuable they are.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of loaded carries is that they are SCALABLE. You can literally use them with anyone, for virtually any training goal:
- An overweight client who's brand new to the weight room and seeking fat loss.
- A football player looking to pancake some unsuspecting soul on the opposing team.
- Wrestlers and MMA fighters desiring augmented grip strength and cardiovascular fitness.
- A powerlifter looking to improve his squat, bench, and deadlift.
- A fitness model preparing for a photo shoot, or college student fancying a sexy bod for the upcoming Beach Week.
- A mother or father simply preparing for "Life"; wanting to better prepare for the ability to get through a day of yard work without crippling back pain.
- And, while I have yet to find a specific research study on the matter, I'm convinced that a healthy dose of farmer carries, more than any other exercise modality, improves your sex life, along with making coffee taste even better than it already does.
I'm not kidding, you can use them for a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. At SAPT we have 11-year olds carry 10lb kettlebells, practicing good posture and walking mechanics; some of our high school athletes carry upwards of 410lbs with the implements. You can see the video below for a boatload of kettlebell (or dumbbell) variations you can use as part of a warm-up or conditioning circuit:
And while I LOVE the farmer walk implements, which allow you to really ramp up the weight (and subsequently, superhero status), I realize that many of you reading train in a commercial gym, and don't have access to the wonderful world of farmer walk handles. Enter....
Double-Arm KB Farmer Walk with Towel
This exercise was invented by your fellow wizards at SAPT, when, upon opening the facility back in 2007, the power racks didn't arrive forfour freaking months due to the company being complete dunderheads delay in shipment. What appeared to be a curse quickly metamorphosed into a blessing, as it forced the coaches to be creative with exercise selection. The KB farmer walk with towel happened to be one of the offspring of this surge in forced creativity.
Here it is in action:
(Note: If your gym doesn't have very heavy kettlebells, you can stack weight plates on top of the KB, as shown in the video.)
I really like this exercise because you can do it nearly any gym, and while it will provide nearly all the benefits of farmer carries (listed in the beginning of this article), this particular variation really, and I mean really, hammers grip strength. You'll literally have to "unpeel" your fingers from your palms when you finish. Not to mention, these really make for fun competitions among the competitive crowd, to see who can go the heaviest and longest before allowing the towel to slip out of the hands.
In fact, even though we now have the luxury of implement handles at SAPT, we still use this variation with near reckless abandon in our athlete's programs.
I like to do these for 2-3 sets of 30-80yds. (If you train in a gym without much walking room, you can just walk back and forth in a 5-10yd square. Who cares if you look funny.)
Give it a shot and hope you enjoy.