By Dave Werner
This fairly simple exercise, which is not technically complex, is a very powerful tool for building strength in many different ways. You could call it a secret weapon of strength development. Not coincidentally, it’s a staple part of strongman training. Folks that know how to get very strong will incorporate heavy carries in their training.
The first thing that will be developed is grip strength. Grip development feels like the limiting factor in the beginning but as you get stronger grip will become less of an issue. I need to emphasize that Farmer’s Walk means very HEAVY. The implication is that the load is challenging for you to pick up with good technique. As you develop strength and grip, the farmers walk develops shoulder and trap strength. It is a nice shoulder strength developer and contributes a lot to shoulder stability.
As you begin to carry very heavy weight, you start to challenge all the support structures of your spine. The muscles deep inside that support your spine are challenging to train. For example, if you did enough deadlifts to greatly fatigue your spine, your form would fail first.
However, when you do a very heavy farmer’s walk for 100 yards, you are holding the weight for potentially minutes. This means a long time under tension which translates to a surprisingly effective tool for strengthening your spine.