Welcome to installment #2 of Exercises you should be doing!
This weeks choice is called Farmers Walks.
Plain and simple, you hold some weight in your hand….and you walk. Not enough information? Okay, I’ll explain it a little.
The Farmer Walk’s primary focus is on lateral core-stabilization (equivalent to a side plank). Speaking of Side-planks, Dr. Stuart McGill (a famous Spinal Biomechanist (thanks Matt)) calls the Farmers Walk a “moving plank”.
Think about a side plank, your lateral core and hips are stabilizing your body weight while you hold the plank. Use that image on the Farmer’s Walk, the weight in your hand(s) are similar to your body weight in the plank. So not only are you stabilizing the weight with your lateral core, it is also stabilizing your body to remain upright while you walk (talk about killing two birds with one stone).
The next important factor of the Farmer’s Walk is the great work it does for your shoulders. Any time you are holding weight in your hands, you are doing great work for your shoulder stability. Walking while holding this weight also is a great exercise for scapular stability, as you need to lock them in place to prevent your shoulders from rounding forward.
You should also take into consideration what your Glutes are doing during all of this. In order to keep your hips in proper position, it is very important that you contract your glutes while you are walking. You are not trying to swing those hips side-to-side as you walk, think “Plank” keep everything tight, and your glutes are no exception. As you step that left foot forward there should be a strong glute contraction on your right side and vice-versa.
The Farmers Walk also will greatly increase your grip strength as well, since you are simply holding heavy weight in your hands, your grip is the only thing keeping the weight from falling to the floor (and possibly landing on your feet). So for those individuals who don’t have the greatest grip strength, this exercise was made for you.
All in all the Farmer’s Walk can be your best friend (or worst enemy depending on the weight you are using), but it offers tremendous gain for core stability, as well as offering many other amazing benefits. The take home message from this is that if you are not doing the exercise you really should be!
Farmer’s Walks can be done in 2 ways. Bilaterally (holding weight in both hands) or Unilaterally (weight only in one hand). Both are great options, with the Unilateral version being more geared towards Lateral Stabilization.
Give yourself a good 20-30 yard straight path to carry the weight, and do a down a back lap with the weight in one hand, and then again with the other. When choosing a correct weight for this exercise you want to be able to hold the weight without dropping it, but not by much. You want to feel like if you took a few more steps that you would not be able to hold it anymore.
Here is a short video of myself performing the Unilateral version properly.
Have a good weekend!