“Walking is to exercise as eating sugar packets at Dunkin Donuts is to nutrition. Yes, if you were starving you could get calories from sugar packets. That doesn’t mean it is good nutrition.” – Michael Boyle
I always found this quote amusing and with very few exceptions I believe it to be true. If you are physically able to do more than just walk then you must, without question, if you want to change the way you look, tone up, become more fit, build bone density, whatever. However, I believe that walking is back in style. Or, as Dan John likes to call it, farmer walks and loaded carries. Much of the reasoning and benefits of using loaded carries is explained in the articles below. I have used most of the variations on both myself and with clients over the past few years and not only do I think they are a great alternative to traditional core training but also offer other unique benefits such as total body strength and conditioning.
This coming Memorial Day, Max Shank, Brian Crilly and I will be competing in the Scottish Highland Games in Costa Mesa, CA. One of the events, unique to the Costa Mesa games is the farmers walk. With 150 lbs. in each hand, he who walks the furthest wins. This year we will be walking to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and taking donations for number of feet walked or just as a flat rate (here for more info). Needless to say, I’ve been practicing.
Brian amidst his record setting 500 ft. walk in ’12
Now, in the 1st article listed below Shon Grosse does a great job of describing what good form should look and how to execute various carries, well. Sure you might be able to carry an extremely heavy load with shoulders rounded forward and your chin sticking out but in training that’s not the point. You can actually improve posture and healthy shoulder function if you do various carries “well”. For the most part, this is how I’ve been practicing, with good technique, at about 80% effort. Now, come game day it will be 100% and it may not be the prettiest of walks. Instead of a runway model it will likely more resemble someone who belongs in the trunk tank, and that’s ok for a max effort situation. Train smart and walk it out.
Quantifying The Farmer’s Walk – Shon Grosse
The Secret of Loaded Carries – Dan John
The Bottom Up Kettlebell Carry – Stuart McGill
– Mike Baltren