This article is by BruteForce from the MAB forum.
Recently a number of people have asked me questions about the farmers walk. This weighted carry is easily one of the greatest things you can do for overall strength and conditioning, so I thought I would share some of the most frequently asked questions I get regarding the farmers walk.
Q. How far should I walk?
A. This varies based on your goal. In general, 100 feet is a good distance for a fairly heavy carry. However, if you have an upcoming meet, use the distance specified as a guide. The last thing you want is to be training a heavy farmers walk for a 50 foot sprint when the contest is a max distance untimed event.
Q. How heavy should the implements be?
A. Like the previous question, this is based off your intention. For a contest, work up to a 105% of contest weight if possible. For general purpose work, aim for 75% of your bodyweight. Much lighter individuals may need to start heavier. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t make 100 feet, lighten the load. If you can hit 200 feet, you need to add weight.
Q. How should I grip the implements?
A. Turn the implements out away from you. Grab the handles deep in the palm so that as you stand they turn in and pinch down on your skin. While this hurts, it provides a superior grip.
Q. Can I use dumbbells?
A. Yes. While actually farmers walk implements are preferable, dumbbells will work in a pinch. The actual implements can be loaded heavier and don’t bounce on the thighs as much, and require far more stabilization than a dumbbell. However, if you do not have access to the real deal, a pair of dumbbells is better than skipping the movement.
Q. Can I wear straps?
A. No. While I suppose you could, this is not a movement where straps are allowed in competition and I am against using straps on non-static lifts. The upper back signals the hands to let go before major injury occurs in most cases. Without that safety mechanism, you are at far greater risk for injury. Start with a lighter weight and work up if your grip is an issue.
Q. Can I use chalk?
A. Yes. Chalk is an excellent idea for the farmers walk. Most tears in the hands occur when an implement or bar slips, and doubly so if the hands are moist. Dry hands and a better grip will allow you to use more weight and reduce incidence of callous tears.
Q. Can I use tacky?
A. No. Seriously, why do some people want to use tacky on everything?
Q. Should I use a belt?
A. This is entirely up to personal preference. I do not like using belts for non-static events as they restrict breathing. If it isn’t restricting your breathing, the belt isn’t tight enough and it is only serving as a confidence booster. However, if you wish to use a belt, it can give you more stability and support. Just be sure to have a handler at the other end of the course to help you take it off.
Q. The implements continue twisting after I complete a turn. What should I do?
A Welcome to a better understanding of inertia. You can try to take the turn a little wider and slower, but the problem will still exist at some level. Strong wrists, shoulders, and back will help you control the turn.
Q. The farmers walk really hurts my hands. What can I do to lessen the pain?
A. Grow a pair. If you have already begun using chalk, you may just need to lighten the weight until you are able to tolerate the pain. Half of strongman is enduring pain.
Q. How fast should I walk?
A. As fast as possible while still under control. This isn’t the place to worry about time under tension. Get to the end of the course quickly and safely.
Q. How often should I train the farmers walk?
A. Once a week should be sufficient for heavy loaded carries. If you are using lighter weights strictly for conditioning purposes, feel free to run it more often. However, extremely heavy weights are a major strain on the body and can negatively affect recovery if performed daily.
Have other questions? Leave them below in the comments.