Your forearms are some of the most important, underrated muscles in your body, so working them out is the best way to ensure their strength matches the rest of your body. The Farmer’s Walk is one of the best exercises to work your forearms. By gripping the dumbbells or kettlebells and walking around the gym, you develop extra grip strength. Here are a few excellent variations to the Farmer’s Walk you can try:
Instead of the classic Farmer’s Walk (standing upright, with a weight hanging by each side), this variation is performed by holding the dumbbells between your legs. You’ll need to crouch a bit, but keep your back straight in order to reduce the risk of lower back strain. Keep your head up and shoulders back as you “duck walk” around the room. You’ll work your legs at the same time as you shred your forearms.
Overhead Farmer’s Walk
This exercise hits your shoulders at the same time as it works your forearms. Hold something heavy over your head (a barbell, two heavy dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbag, etc.) as you walk. Your core and shoulders will work together to keep the heavy object stable, and you will work your forearms to grip and support the heavy load. Definitely a good variation to work your arms!
Instead of carrying two dumbbells or kettlebells, only walk with one. This one-sided exercise is brilliant to help you develop core muscles. While the classic Farmer’s Walk emphasizes the forearms, the fact that you’re only carrying one weight means your obliques and abs will have to compensate for the extra load. This will help you to shred your core muscles, and the exercise will drastically improve your posture.
This is a difficult variation on the Farmer’s Walk, but it’s AMAZING for your arms. You’ll need a kettlebell for this movement. Turn the kettlebell upside down (heavy side up), and keep your upper arm parallel to the floor and elbow bent to a 90-degree angle as you walk. It will hit your shoulders, biceps, and triceps along with your forearms, helping you to develop better overall arm strength.
Bear Hug/Goblet Walk
This exercise works your grip in a different way. Instead of the classic grip, you have to support the heavy sandbag or dumbbell at an unusual angle. It’s for better-rounded grip strength. If you have a sandbag, hold it in a bear hug as you walk around the room. If not, use a dumbbell or kettlebell, and hold it as you would for goblet squats (two hands clutching it to the chest). After 60 seconds of walking with this heavy weight, your arms will feel the burn!
Overloaded Farmer’s Walk
For this exercise, you’ll need A LOT of weight. Your average Farmer’s Walk exercise uses less weight, as less weight helps you to last the 60 seconds of walking. But with the Overloaded Farmer’s Walk, you use as much weight as you can carry for 15 seconds. It’s like a “Max-Lift Set” of 2 to 3 reps using as much weight as possible. It will develop raw power that will compliment your strength and endurance. You’ll find that makes a difference in the amount of force you can generate when squeezing, though it won’t help you grip things for longer–only stronger!
This unusual variation involves holding a barbell in the crook of your elbows as you walk. It’s great for your biceps, and will definitely work your shoulders and forearms. It can be a bit uncomfortable, however, so it may not be the best option.