On the surface, this even seems simple. You pick up a special bar in each hand and walk. Nothing to it, right? Yeah, pretty much. But don’t think this is an easy event. I’ll walk you through step by step on what to do, where things go wrong, and how to train for this event.
The farmer’s walk isn’t just about brute strength; it’s about speed and stability as well. Honestly, this is most of strongman. Being strong statically isn’t enough. You must be fast, strong, stable, and conditioned.
At the start of the event, you will be positioned between two bars, generally 4-6 inches thick, with plates loaded on each end. Handles will be centered on the bar allowing you a good grip, as well as a fairly high position to pick the weight up from. I can’t speak for all contests, but the farmer’s walks I have encountered have generally been in the range of 225 per hand. Not crushingly heavy, but tricky to hold onto if you aren’t used to it.
Before you get in position, chalk up. Grip is a big deal here and you don’t want to slip. Slipping on this event is a good way to tear a callous, and not the little ones near your fingers, but the only that should be building up on your palms as well. Not getting calluses on your palms? You’re gripping the bar to far towards your fingers and won’t get as good of a grip this way.
Ok, you’re all set up and chalked up. Grip the handles firmly, and on the mark, lift. If this is your first time, I would suggest lifting to lockout, then beginning forward movement as these things are heavy and awkward. Otherwise, in training, see what works best for you. Now, taking short, quick steps and small quick breaths to stay tight, make your way to the other end of the field as quickly as possible.
Depending on the course, you may be done at the other end, you may drop the implements and re-pick, or you may have to hold on to them as you turn around. If it’s the first 2, you’re golden. The 3rd is a bit more tricky. As you turn, the implements are going to swing away from you, and as you straighten out, they are going to keep turning. Inertia is a bitch. Do your best to stay tight and keep moving. You may want to slow down and make a slightly wider turn, but practice this first several times if at all possible.
As for training, using actual implements is by far the best way to go. Dumbbells are no where near the same. They will bounce against your thighs, are usually far too light, and don’t swing nearly enough. On the other hand, if that is all you have to work with, it’s not a terrible option. Also consider grabbing a heavy sand bag in each hand or something similar to train your grip for this. It isn’t about crushing strength as much as grip strength/endurance.