Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-The Farmer’s Walk, Rack Walk, and Overhead Walk-

Walking.  Most people do it.  Those of us who exercise do it without much thought.  Why would anyone who’s already reached a good level of conditioning add “walking” to their program?  I mean, walking is easy.  I can hear it now…you’re asking, “how in the heck is it going to do anything to improve my already-amazing physique?” 🙂

Well, let me break it down for you.  I’m talking about WEIGHTED walks.  Walks done whilst gripping dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, small children, etc!  Kidding about the use of small children as weights, although i’m sure someone’s tried it before.

Anyhow, back to the task at hand.  Weighted walks are done for either time or distance.  The Farmer’s Walk is done by simply holding a weight in each hand.  The downward pull of the weights can be beneficial for stretching the upper traps (which are tight in many people) and encouraging proper posture.  When you pick up a pair of heavy dumbbells and begin to walk across the floor with them, I guarantee you’re going to make sure you stand up nice and tall to do so.  Along with this comes awesome activation of the middle and lower traps, which tend to be weak links in many people.  Also important to note is that this is a killer “core” (and y’all know I really don’t care for that term) exercise as well as one that provides cardio (another word I don’t care for) benefit.  Your legs are getting fried while your grip strength is challenged.  Obviously it’s a total-body movement.  

Back in my fitness competition days, I trained my clients at this one gym where we had a “strongman competition” type guy who worked out most weeknights.  I nicknamed him “Kilmanjaro” because he bragged and bragged about how he and his wife were training to climb Mt. Kilmanjaro for their honeymoon.  His wife trained alongside him and many times she looked like she’d rather be doing anything else than throwing heavy weights around with her Neanderthal-type fiance.  Not knockin’ the strongmen in the least, but this guy was rather chauvenistic and full of himself.  So, this one particular evening, Kilmanjaro was not only doing his infamous “let me pick this tremendously-heavy dumbbell off the floor and heave it overhead and hold it there as long as possible while screaming at the top of my lungs” exercise, he was doing Farmer’s Walks.  This was the first time I saw anyone doing them in a gym, and it caused me to flash back to the Galaxy Competition I did in the summer of 2000.  If anyone is wondering, the Galaxy shows involved an obstacle course.  Ours was done on the sands of St. Petersburg beach in the blazing June heat.  What does this have to do with anything?  Well, for one part of the obstacle course, we had to do the Farmer’s Walk with 5-gallon water-filled gas cans IN THE SAND!  Let me tell you, this was tougher than one would think!  Not only are you walking for distance and trying to race the clock while carrying these suckers weighing roughly 40 lbs each, you’re wobbling all over the place!  Crazy!  So, flash back to watching Kilmanjaro do the Farmer’s Walk through the typical weeknight gym crowded free weight area…my immediate thought was “WTF?”  Obviously he knew what he was doing, and my somewhat-closed-minded-bodybuilding-schooled self should have picked his brain more.  

To entertain you, here are a few pictures from “those days”


Wobby Farmer's Walk!

Wobbly Farmer




Climbing the 10-foot wall

Climbing the 10-foot wall

Galaxy show...I look happy but it was really a crock!

Galaxy show...I look happy but it was really a crock!

Pic from first competition - circa Oct. 1996!

Pic from first competition - circa Oct. 1996!

Yes, I realize I just went off on yet another “Sarah story” road…with really no point to it, but hopefully you got a laugh from the pictures! 🙂

Okay, Rack Walks!  Rack walks are done with kettlebells (or dumbbells) in the “rack” position, which puts your hands close to your body at your sternum.  This shifts the weight to the front of the body, thus requiring more from those lovely “core” muscles.  It’s also a good “resting” position for the grip, as you can uncurl your fingers a bit and let the kettlebells rest in the crooks of your thumbs.

Overhead Walks are just what they sound like…walks done with the weights in an overhead position.  Why are these great?  Anyone who has ever done overhead squats will be the first to tell you that they place an incredible demand on the “core” and the stabilizers of the shoulder.  Overhead walks do the same kinda thing.  You must “pack” the shoulder as to promote stability and prevent “shrugging” of the shoulders.  The dynamic nature of walking challenges this stabilization.

So there ya have it.  If you’re looking for something to bump your workouts up a notch, give weighted walks a try!  They are total-body movements that will get your heart pumping and metabolism cranking!

Oh, and what spurred me to write about weighted walks?  I did all three varieties as part of my workout this evening.  I used a pair of 24-lb dumbbells for the Farmer’s walks, 15 lbs for the overhead walks and then 24 lbs for the rack walks.  The Farmer’s walks were part of my original workout, and I did three rounds of a circuit that began with 20 yard Farmer’s walk.  When I finished all the circuit fun, I felt I wanted to do more, so I did 20 yards of the overhead walks, rested 30 seconds, then did 20 yards of the rack walks and completed  three rounds of this (which took 10 minutes and kept my heart rate elevated).  I can already tell you that i’m gonna be sore all over!


2 responses

  1. Pingback: -Try Farmer’s Walks With A Unilateral Load!- « “Outside the Box” Training

  2. Reblogged this on RIPPEL EFFECT FITNESS and commented:

    Another great post from four years ago! I am still a fan of weighted carries…ask pretty much anyone that I train! 🙂

    January 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm

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