Monday, January 23, 2023

Going for a Walk - William Mosher (2002)

The author, Bill Mosher, with his rail and chain suitcases. 

My own philosophy of training focuses on the development of strength and power at the exclusion of appearance. These goals are achieved most effectively through the use of power and Olympic lifting methods and systems. 

However, to supplement one's training, there are many other activities one can engage in for greater strength gains. 

One activity that is popular with many strength athletes from different sports is the FARMER'S WALK. This article covers a training system along with a few ideas that will assist you in developing and improving on this event. 

The core exercise for this program is the classic 20-REP BREATHING SQUAT. The benefits of heavy high-rep squats are of key importance in obtaining a serious result in the farmer's walk. Those who have trained on the walk will quickly agree that it requires a great deal of strength in the back, hamstrings, traps, calves, legs, and grip. 

Another requirement is the ability to breathe deeply and and to sustain strength as long as possible. Breathing squats are ideal as a building block for this type of all-around strength development. Through my own experimentation, I have discovered that 20-rep breathing squats provide better results on the walk than squatting with heavier weights and lower reps. For the best results, the trainee should strive for 1.5 times body weight for a full 20 reps.  

Farmer's walk implements may be purchased or homemade. The materials to make your own are easily obtained and available from many sources. Local junkyards are a good source along with railroad companies or local farmers. Railroad rails are ideal for this purpose: find a good length of rail and cut it into four equal pieces. Have two sections welded together one on top of the other for each "suitcase." Next, have a handle welded onto the top, making sure that it is centered well. 

The length of the handles is optional but a longer handle makes carrying the suitcases more comfortable. Short handles are fine, but the suitcases may rub against the outsides of the knees, causing minor scrapes. The diameter of the handles is also discretionary, but I recommend something close to Olympic barbell size. Some may prefer to purchase handles to which weight plates can be added with little difficulty, allowing for more flexibility. 

The weight of the implements for training should be at least 200 pounds each. They should be weighed to determine an accurate reading. Many welding shops or local farmers have scales that could be used for this purpose. 

Chains can also be added for extra weight during training. 

During the walk breathing is very important, along with keeping your head up and eyes straight ahead. Breathe deeply while inhaling and slowly and forcefully while exhaling. Do not hold your breath during the exercise. 

Momentum is another important aspect of the walk. Some prefer to cover as much ground as possible in the shortest amount of time. Others walk more slowly, concentrating on breathing and momentum for a longer period of time. You will need to experiment to determine the best method for you. 

A lifting belt and wrist wraps are items that may be helpful. If a belt is used, make sure it is not too tight, which could restrict breathing. Wraps are optional and chalk is helpful if used properly. The chalk needs to be applied to the thumbs and tops of the fingers where they lock together when gripping each handle. Chalk should also be applied to the palms and undersides of the fingers. Shoes should have a firm sole with no heel; some support is a good choice, and either a high or low cut. Running shoes are out of the question: a large cushion is not desirable when walking with heavy loads. 

Check over the training area and competition course carefully. Stepping into a hole or stumbling on uneven places could ruin your day. If competing, train in as close to competitive conditions as possible. Analyze the course on which you will be walking. Deep grass is far different from asphalt. Is the course uphill or downhill to any extent? Will turns be required? 

The last training day for the walk should be six to seven days prior to the competition. Weight training should be dropped at least three days out. Get plenty of rest the night before the competition and eat a good breakfast upon rising in the morning. Eat throughout the day to maintain energy. About one to one and one half hours prior to the walk, eat again to give your energy a burst. 

When your turn comes, go for a nice long walk. 

A suggested training program would look like this: 

Day One 

Squat, warm up, then 1 x 20 reps as heavy as possible
Snatch Grip High Pull, 5 x 3 reps 
Barbell Row, 5 x 5
Calf Raise, 4 x 8
Barbell Shrug, 5 x 3
Back Raise, 1 x 50
Abs, 2 x 50
Farmer's Walk, one or two sets, as far as possible

Day Two 

Squat, warm up and do 1 x 20
Clean or Snatch Grip High Pull, 5 x 3, or 5 x 5
Deadlift, one or two heavy singles
Barbell Row, 5 x 5
Calf Raise, 5 x 8
Barbell Shrug, 5 x 3
Back Raise, 1 x 50
Abs, 2 x 50, 4 x 25
Farmer's Walk, one or two sets, as far as possible

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


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