Have you ever thought that walking can actually strengthen your body? That walking can build up and energize the muscles in your core? Well, it's true. Of course I'm not referring to your casual everyday walking or even fast-paced aerobic walks-both of which are great exercises for burning calories. What I'm talking about in this article is an incredible core building exercise that will definitely give you an intense workout with amazing results. I'm talking about the farmer's walk and it is not your run-of-the-mill exercise.
What is the Farmer's Walk?
Anyone who has worked, lived or spent any considerable time in a farming environment knows that it is very physical work. Even with innovative technologies, manual labor has been and is still very much a part of the job. Carrying heavy bucket-loads of water and feed for the animals can actually provide for a good workout. And the great thing is that you don't have to live on a farm to get the benefits of this fantastic exercise. When it gets down to it, the farmer's walk is really just walking around carrying very heavy weights in each hand.
Basics of the Farmer's Walk
The basic technique of the farmer's walk is actually quite simple but the benefits are many. You will need to find an area clear of obstructions and obstacles, it is recommended to use a level flat surface rather than an uneven floor. You will also need two dumbbells or kettle balls or other weights with handles for gripping. If you're a novice and unaccustomed to weight lifting choose light weights, but to progress in this exercise you will need to gradually increase the weights you will be using. If you're an intermediate or advanced weight lifter then select heavier weights for this exercise.
Take a weight in each hand. While keeping your arms at your sides, shoulders back and chest out, begin walking forward several feet then return to your starting point. Then repeat this again. After three repetitions, kneel slowly to the floor setting the weights down. Remember to keep your arms at your sides and your back straight as you place the weights down on the floor. Avoid stooping because stooping places undue and harmful stress on your back. Then stand up and shake out your arms. That is one set. The sets are determined by the number of times you are able to walk forward and then return to your starting place without setting the weights down. For example, walking forward 10 feet then returning to your starting place and setting the weights down on the floor would be one set. If you were able to perform two repetitions of this before setting the weights down, it would still be one set. After resting 2 minutes, kneel to the floor, take the weights in your hands and stand up-remember to keep your back straight at all times. Once upright, walk forward several feet then return to your starting place. Do as many sets as you are able but not to fatigue. I recommend performing 1-3 repetitions per set.
Don't hold your breath while performing this or any other exercise. If you hold your breath you deprive your cells of oxygen, increasing your chances of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) which could lead to dizziness or fainting. Instead, breathe normally and if you feel tired, set the weights down and rest. The farmer's walk is a very good exercise and if performed properly it will not be long before you notice results. When I first worked out using the farmer's walk, I began with 27 kilogram dumbbells in each hand and walked a distance of 10 feet and back. In a matter of a few months, I had more than doubled my walking distance and increased the weights I was carrying to one 45 kilogram dumbbell in each hand. One of the fun things about the farmer's walk is constant change, increasing the walking distance and number of sets you are able to perform. I personally perform at least 5 farmer walk sets using very heavy dumbbells.
Benefits of the Farmer's Walk
I'm a firm believer in establishing core strength. Core strength is important for a number of reasons. A short list of these include:
•Strong back •Strong abdominals •Strong glutes •Increased muscle growth •Increased metabolism •Increased muscular coordination When you perform core building exercises such as farmer's walk, squats or dead lifts you will be training various muscle groups to work together i.e. coordinate. It takes skill and practice to maintain your balance when going from a knelt position to an upright one. It also takes balance and stamina to move about while carrying around extra weight. You'll work many muscles in your body when performing the farmer's walk: legs, arms, shoulders, back, glutes and abdominals. Women can workout to the farmer's walk using lighter weights and lower repetitions/shorter distances and still reap benefits from the exercise. Men wanting to increase their muscle mass/size may choose heavier weights and perform more sets and at greater distances. As with any exercise knowledge, proper nutrition, rest, planning, patience and dedication will bring about results. And remember to consult with a physician before starting any exercise program.
Joseph Martin, B.Sc. is the administrator of Living Fit, Healthy and Happy. Living Fit, Healthy and Happy is your first stop for reliable advice on physical fitness, exercise, anti-aging and nutrition. You can visit us at http://www.livingfithealthyandhappy.com By Joseph Martin