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Going Beyond Farmer’s Walks

sandbag training

I am always intrigued by what becomes popular in fitness. Sometimes it is something great and sometimes it is something that leaves me scratching my head. However, because we are talking about fitness, what IS guaranteed is how far the pendulum will swing to one side or the other.

A great example is the use of farmer’s walks in people’s programs. I never thought something like farmer’s walks would be popular even though I had competed in competitive strongman where farmer’s walks are pretty prevalent.

I didn’t think farmer’s walks would become popular because of really a couple of things. For one, you can’t really “feel” your muscles like you can with push-ups, squats, curls, you name it. The weight is so dispersed through your body you would feel worked but nothing really felt specifically tired (outside something obvious like grip).

The other thing was that farmer’s walks were a lot of hard work. Let’s face it, working hard in the gym is not necessarily the priority of a lot of people. You can see it by the higher effort in getting that right Instagram pic or videoing other gym members for social media than their own actual workout.

However, farmer’s walks did become popular, largely to spinal expert Dr. Stuart McGill. What Dr. McGill found out studying strongmen was how much dynamic core action was required to do farmer’s walks well. You see, we don’t want to plank in real life, if you do you look like Frankenstein. Instead we want our core to be reactive, but what does that mean?

Drills like farmer’s walks are a great example of a reactive core. If you keep the right posture and alignment you have to have your core quickly turn on and off and do so at JUST the right time.

Easy enough, hence everyone doing farmer’s walks for their core training. Like I said though, things swing too far one way. While I like farmer’s walks, there are a few things to consider.

First, you can do them wrong! Yea, during my first strongman contest I stepped just wrong during the farmer’s walk event and I hurt my back almost the worst I did since I injured it many years ago. Because farmer’s walks are basically an unstable exercise it is easy to screw it up, especially if you don’t walk well to begin with!

What? How could anyone not walk well? It happens a lot! That is why so many people get knee, low back, and even shoulder problems. It is the kinetic chain that can make our body go bad really fast!

When you see how our body is connected you can see how just some dysfunction in our walking pattern can cause problems throughout our entire chain. So, what’s the remedy?

One great thing to do is what DVRT Master, Sean Lettero demonstrates in our Ultimate Sandbag loaded marches. A great advantage of being front loaded versus a standard farmer’s walk is we can create more core and overall body tension that helps stabilize our body better. Listen to how Sean breaks it down….

Here is the best part of how we use DVRT. If we understand that the goal of farmer’s walks and loaded carries is to challenge our core then we don’t have to go heavier or longer to achieve that goal. Instead, Sean breaks down an incredible way to use loaded carries and the unique aspect of Ultimate Sandbags in building great shoulder and core strength!

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