Sun | Apr 21, 2019

Fit 4 Life | It’s all in the walk [Part II]

Published:Monday | March 11, 2019 | 6:15 PMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
As Aaron demonstrates, the farmers walk is a simple carry exercise. Whatever your load, you should bear one in each hand. This variation provides a full-body burn. It is particularly great for the traps of the shoulder/upper back, and vastus medialis of the legs.

If there is one area where loaded carries shine, it is in their simplicity. For an exercise that is as beneficial and versatile as a loaded carry is, one probably expects that it requires some expensive machine or the flexibility and strength of a gymnast.

In truth, these exercises don't require much equipment or any special poses. In fact, they can be performed with a variety of loads – dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, sandbags, tyres, or even buckets of water. 

Though there are many variations of loaded carries, the basic form remains the same for all. 

• An upright posture should be maintained – spine neutral and shoulders in line with hips. 

• The core should remain tight throughout the movement; maintain tension throughout the core, not just the rectus abdominis. 

• Pace should be brisk but steady. No long strides or heavy steps. 

• Start light. If you struggle to meet these standards, reduce the load.

FOLLOW YOUR GOALS

The load and variation of a carry workout should be carefully chosen based on your goals. 

BURN FAT, BUILD MUSCLE, GET STRONG

The duration and/or distance and load of the walk is important.

1. If the goal is to burn fat, choose a load that allows up to two-minute carries with about a minute's rest between sets.

2. To pack on muscle, increase the load to reduce the walk time – one-minute work periods are great.

3. When focusing on developing strength, use heavier loads and reduce time/distance further. 

Try these variations and take your fitness to the next level. Remember to follow the basic form described above.

FARMER'S WALK

The original, simple carry exercise. Whatever your load, you should bear one in each hand. This variation provides a full-body burn. It is particularly great for the traps of the shoulder/upper back, and vastus medialis of the legs.

RACKED CARRY

Want a greater challenge for your core muscles? The racked carry can help. To perform this core burner, pick up the loads in each hand as you would with the farmer's walk, then raise them to the 'rack position' – elbows bent with the load resting across the shoulders (at the collarbone) and the palms facing each other. Try to maintain core and back tension throughout the exercise.

OVERHEAD CARRY

The overhead carry, as the name suggests, involves walking with the load held above the head. It challenges the shoulders, serratus, and obliques. This is an advanced move and should only be attempted with manageable loads.

Loaded carries are tough but rewarding exercises. Their benefits go far beyond achieving a look. They are great for improving performance and bulletproofing the body against injury; benefits which translate to both training and getting fit for life. 

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com