Recently, I’ve become a little more obsessed with strengthening my core as, in my humble opinion, I think we all should. Why? Because the core acts as a protective corset around the trunk of our body, which can help reduce the likelihood of back pain, injury, as well as aid good stability and balance. Sometimes we become so fixated on having washboard abs and building a six-pack though, that we can end up neglecting our core as a whole. But, recently I’ve been doing a new core exercise that has not only helped with my back pain, but also made my abs ache like never before – and I’m obsessed!
‘What is this revolutionary core exercise that you speak of?’ you ask. Well, it's a farmer's carry and if you haven’t tried them before, then you definitely need to. “The farmer's walk, or farmer’s carry, is a classic strongman move that works a number of different muscle groups, including your core, arms, shoulders, and legs - but it’s also a very effective fat-burning metabolic conditioning move,” says Steve Chambers, Certified Personal Trainer and Gym Manager at Ultimate Performance Manchester.
Essentially, the farmer’s carry is walking a set distance whilst carrying two weights, either a pair of kettlebells or a pair of dumbbells. That may not sound as skilful as doing something like the plank, but don’t be fooled. During my training sessions I’ve been doing a 60 metre farmer carry with two 28kg kettlebells and, my God, the next day I was in shock at how sore my abs were, as well as my shoulders and triceps. But also by how tight they felt too.
My back pain, although not completely gone, has also seen a big improvement since doing these. Steve explains that this is because during the exercise you’re constantly focused on keeping your back in an upright position, so it can help to correct postural issues and maintain a healthy spine. This makes it an ideal exercise for desk workers (which I am), who usually have a poorer posture due to being hunched over a computer all day. Plus, it’s a great functional exercise that can help make everyday tasks – such as carrying items and climbing stairs – so much easier. Add it to your next core workout and, I promise, you won't be disappointed.
How to do a farmer's carry
Here' a breakdown from Steve on how to do a farmer's carry correctly:
- Place two kettlebells on the floor, just outside shoulder-width
- Bend down into a deadlift position – bend in the knees, lean your torso forwards slightly and keep the back neutral – grab the kettlebell handles and stand up
- Push your shoulder blades down, engage your core and begin walking your set distance
- Look up slightly up, like you are trying to look beyond the horizon, to help maintain an upright posture
- Struggling with grip? Use a pair of wrist straps. But don't become too over reliant on them