As machines and gadgets take over our day-to-day lives, little wonder that these objects have made huge inroads into the world of exercising. There are machines that promise to shave off layers of fat from your body; others that promise shapely, sculpted bodies; and even more that claim to give you perfect abs or perfect thighs and so on. Most of them make exercise look super easy. Indeed, one belt that claims it will give you a six-pack doesn’t require you to do anything other than strapping it on! Some of these aren’t cheap. A California-based company sells a cross-trainer, ROM, for $14,615 (Rs 5.85 lakh) that in just four minutes promises to give you an effective workout that could otherwise take you an hour or longer.I haven’t tried any of these wonder machines so I won’t be able to tell you whether they work or not. In fact, I’m not a great fan of machines, preferring accessories as simple as free weights (dumb-bells, barbells and weight plates) to use for my workouts. Sometimes, the best exercises are the simplest and work better than if you’re using a high-tech machine.
The Farmer’s Walk is one such exercise that needs to be brought out of the closet and resurrected. I haven’t really seen too many people at today’s gyms doing this deceptively simple exercise but its benefits are big. It’s called the Farmer’s Walk because it resembles a farmer carrying big buckets of produce in each hand while walking. And it’s great for increasing grip strength for the hands besides being a very good whole-body exercise.
Here’s how it’s done. Grab two heavy dumb-bells— one in each hand. Hold them at arm’s length at your sides and simply walk, either outdoors or indoors. Walk up and down a 100-200-metre stretch till you can’t hold them any more. Dump them down, take a spot of rest and do another stretch of walking with the dumb-bells, preferably picking up a heavier set. You should aim to carry the equivalent of your body weight in order to get a good workout.
The exercise may seem easy. It’s not. As you go heavy, the Farmer’s Walk becomes tough and the distance that you can manage to walk can be as short as 10-12 steps. Do the walk as you would do repetitions of a set of weightlifting exercises: walk up to a point and come back to the starting position; that’s one rep; do 5-6 of those for a set and then do two more sets.
The Farmer’s Walk not only benefits the wrists and forearms by making them strong but also works the shoulder muscles and even the rest of the body as an overall mass builder. Many people like to do it at the end of their workouts as a sort of “finishing” touch to their session. I rediscovered this primitive gem of an exercise quite recently and have been building it into my weekly schedule—doing it once a week. Be prepared, however, to get sore forearms on the day after you do the Farmer’s Walk but rest assured that your overall strength will get boosted. Happy walking!
— Muscles Mani
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Caveat: The physical exercises described in Treadmill are not recommendations.
Readers should exercise caution and consult a physician before attempting to follow any of these.