They look so unassuming, yet have so many benefits. Want to improve grip strength? Farmer carries. Want to lose fat? Want to gain muscle and get stronger? Farmer carries. Want to get your heart rate up really quickly? Farmer carries!
Probably one of the safest exercises you can do with weight is the “Farmer Carry” and you don’t need any fancy equipment to do them. You will not only feel these in your forearms and grip but also your neck, shoulders, back, abs and even glutes and quads!
The key is going HEAVY. All too often, I see athletes choose weights that are much too light to provide the benefit this exercise can offer. It should be a struggle to make it 50-100 meters with the weight you choose and if you can do 100 meter repeats without setting the weight down, you probably underestimated your abilities.
Grab two HEAVY weights – dumbbells, kettlebells, sacks of concrete, or whatever else you can find. To pick the weight up off the ground safely, half squat-half deadlift yourself to them with a flat back. Take a big belly brace and press your legs through the ground and to extension. The weight will now be at your sides with your palms facing towards your hips. Pin back your shoulder blades, make your spine as long as possible and walk as far as you can. Make sure you keep your belly braced throughout your walk. If you made it more than 200 meters, go back for a heavier load. I find it easier to walk with my knees slightly bent so I’m not bobbling around as much.
Another fun variation is the suitcase carry, which is a single-arm farmer carry that forces you to stabilize your midline. All the same rules apply here. Just alternate hands instead of using both at once.
Try them as part of your workout or as a post-workout fun finisher. I think you might be surprised at how sore your abs are the next day and how out of breath you get performing these two exercises!