The basic steps are easy to follow:
- Pick up evenly distributed weight in each hand.
- Stand up straight.
- Put your treadmill speed VERY low.
- Take steady steps forward for a predetermined amount of time or distance.
There are multiple variations of the farmer's walk exercise and safety precautions to consider before heading off on a weighted walk. Additionally, the full body workout you may not think you get simply walking.
Get the Basic Steps Down First
A farmer's walk on a treadmill is a progressive move from the basic move, walking with weights on a flat surface. If you are new to the movement, understand it is more challenging than walking to rack your dumbbells. Yes, you are moving with weights in your hands, but think about your posture and HOW you move across the gym to put the weights back. It isn't a focused and purposeful move; the farmer's walk is.
Stretch or complete your regular workout routine first.
The farmer's walk exercise is typically done at the end of a workout session because it utilizes almost every muscle in your body. Your muscles need to be warmed up before walking off across the gym weighted.
Start with a lighter weight until you get the proper form down.
You'll want to ease into the heavy stuff. So many people underestimate this move due to how basic it really is to complete. Even if you can push/pull heavier weights, grab a pair of light ones until your muscles commit the moves to memory, and then you can get down and heavy.
Keep your balance.
Stand with equal weight on either side of you on the floor. Your stance should be about shoulder width apart when you squat to pick up the weights. You can use dumbbells or kettlebells for easy gripping.
Posture is important too.
Carrying weights across the room in a focused manner takes a toll on your shoulders and back. It also causes terrible pain, killing your posture over time if you don't start doing it right the first time. Keep your shoulders down, back straight, and core tight. Injuries are commonly caused by shifting weight forward at the waist to help carry the weight. This is wrong and will eventually lead to serious upper body pain.
Left, right, left, right.
From there, it's simply walking. Keep a leisurely pace and count your steps or mark your distance before moving so you have a measured distance for your workout. Typically 30 seconds one way is a good time until you master the form. Set down your weights to turn around and repeat, or pivot carefully and go again.
Stepping onto the Treadmill
Now that you know the basics and mastered your form on a flat surface, it's time to apply it to your treadmill progression. Along with kettlebells and dumbbells for weight, you can also use flat plates to carry. These may prove more beneficial since they are more narrow at your sides as you walk between the safety rails seen on treadmills.
There are additional precautions to consider when doing a farmer's walk on the treadmill. Since you are now on a moving surface, you are giving up an aspect of control. Remember your form: shoulders down, back straight, core tight.
Slow and Steady wins the race.
The treadmill now controls the floor moving under your feet, so keep your speed at 2-3, a normal to brisk walking pace. This will help keep you balanced as you walk.
Tighten up your stride.
You don't need to cover your distance as fast as possible as you do with a running routine. Keep your stride length short and precise. Knowing where your feet land on each step is a sure way to keep balanced and safe.
Be prepared to stop.
When you walk on the floor, you can stop to put your weights down at the end of each set. On the treadmill, you must figure out how to safely stop or get off between sets. The best way is to have someone with you who can adjust your speed, stop the treadmill, or take your weights.
A farmer's walk is not meant to be done for long stretches at one time. It is intended for walking a short distance, stopping, resting, and repeating a few times, and that is it. A treadmill is typically used for long distances and a much longer timeframe. Always consider the safety of your movements before jumping into a new move.
Variations of the Farmer's Walk
There are several ways to progress your farmer's walk on or off the treadmill. The easiest progression methods are increasing weight, time, and distance, but you can also change the position of the weights. Check out these options and test them out before getting on the treadmill, then progress as you learn. Once you get really good at each one, try combinations of the variations to conquer the farmer's walk.
Carry both weights in the "clean" position, meaning both arms are bent in the bicep curl up position and stay there during the walk.
One weight is carried overhead with your arm primarily straight. Think of a waiter carrying a tray of food above their head to your table.
This modification works one side of the body at a time. Carry one weight in one hand while keeping your core tight to stand straight and not bend to the side carrying the weight. Much like, you guessed it, carrying one suitcase from the car.
Incline on the Treadmill
Along with trying the above variations on the treadmill, you can increase the incline for more resistance. Additionally, you can use the decline position to work the opposite muscles.
The farmer's walk on a treadmill has the combined benefits of improved cardio and endurance and increased muscle strength. You will burn calories and fat faster, increase metabolism, and improve your posture and grip strength. Not only will adding this exercise to your weekly routine improve your fitness, but it will also make daily function easier. Nothing like carrying all your groceries in one trip to make you feel accomplished!