Quick – name an exercise that provides all the benefits of deadlifting – including core, grip, and posterior-chain strength – along with the movement benefits of hiking or sprinting, and is virtually effortless to learn. If you can’t name one easily, you need to try the Farmers’ Carry!
Chris K from Denver, who includes strongman training, powerlifting, CrossFit, and boxing among his own training regimen, echoes a long-held belief among some of the best trainers in the business that farmers’ carries are “the one exercise you probably aren’t doing that you should be”.
To perform the basic farmers’ carry, simply pick up a heavy weight in each hand and go for a walk! While the concept is simple, and the exercise is fairly easy if the selected weights are too light, heavy farmers’ carries are one of the most beneficial strength- and stamina-building exercises you can do!
The key to the farmers’ carry is tension; not only must you keep your hands tightly gripped around the handles of the weights, but your core, hips, lats, and shoulders must be kept tight to stabilize the weight and your body.
If you have been doing farmers’ carries and want to change it up, try these variations:
Also known as unilateral (one-sided) or unbalanced farmers’ carries, suitcase walks challenge your obliques to hold your torso upright. Make sure you stay completely upright rather than leaning toward or away from the weight. These can be made even more challenging by using a full-sized (7’) barbell rather than a more compact dumbbell or kettlebell.
Stop-and-go farmers’ carries
If you haven't watched the embedded video yet, do that now. Popularized by Joe DeFranco, stop-and-go farmer's carries add an element of agility to the strength used in the basic exercise. You can just stop periodically through the movement, set up cones at specific intervals, or even have your training partner call “stop” when you’re not expecting it. The key with these is to walk quickly, and come to a complete stop suddenly.
Building strength is important in any workout. By adding an element of endurance to the workout, you can maximize your efforts and get the most bang for your buck!