The Single Arm Farmer’s Walk, also known as a Suitcase Carry, is a unique core exercise that emphasizes stabilization in the frontal plane. As you walk, the core has to continuously work to stabilize an upright torso, not allowing the body to bend to one side.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Single Arm Farmer’s Walks including some important coaching points and a few alternative exercises.
How To Do Single Arm Farmer’s Walk
- Dumbbell or Kettlebell
Single Arm Farmer’s Walks work many major muscle groups in the body. A few of the biggest focuses are:
- Quadratus Laborum (QL)
- Gluteus Medius
- Core Abdominals (Obliques Externus Abdominis, Rectus Femoris)
- Erector Spinae
- Secondarily: Forearms & Trapezius
- Grab a single kettlebell or dumbbell.
- Brace the core and begin walking in a slow, controlled manner.
- As you walk, focus on keeping the core braced and the shoulders and hips square and level.
- Once you cover the assigned distance (or time), switch hands and repeat on the opposite side.
You do not need to grab the heaviest kettlebell you can find. Find a weight that you can walk with and maintain proper form.
Don’t rush through. Single Arm Farmer’s Walk can be done for time or for distance. If going for distance, it should not be a speed walk to cover the ground as fast as possible. Stay under control and focus on form.
Potential benefits of Single Arm Farmers Walk are:
- Improved Grip Strength: Doing single-arm farmers walks helps to strengthen your grip and forearm muscles, which can be beneficial for any type of physical activity.
- Core Strength: When done correctly, single-arm farmers walks can help to improve your core strength and stability.
- Balance and Coordination: Single-arm farmers walks can help to improve your balance and coordination.
- Injury Prevention: Having a strong grip and core strength can help to reduce your risk of injury.
- Improved Posture: Doing single-arm farmers walks can help to improve your posture, which can lead to more efficient movement patterns.
- Carrying Grocery Bags: If nothing else, this exercise will help you be able to make that walk from the car to the kitchen in one trip.
How Many Reps?
Generally 2 to 4 sets, about 30 to 60 seconds per set. They are a perfect exercise to superset with supplemental exercises (like triceps and biceps for example) at the end of a workout.
Single Arm Farmer’s Walk Variations
Here are a few farmers carry variations that you can do by simply changing the position of where you hold the kettlebell.
Shoulder Level Carry
Curl the kettlebell up to shoulder height for a more challenging variation. Now the shoulder becomes more involved in the stabilization process.
And, because the kettlebell is not bottom-up it becomes harder to balance and will also challenge the grip more. (Using a dumbbell is much more forgiving)
Another challenging variation is to hold the kettlebell overhead. The overhead position in this variation will emphasize shoulder stabilization in addition to core stabilization.
Single Arm Farmer’s Walk Alternatives
If you don’t have a dumbbell or kettlebell to work with, Lateral Planks are a great alternative. They also emphasize core stability in the front plane.
You don’t get the added benefit of stabilizing while moving which is one of the aspects of the Single Arm Farmer’s Walk that makes it such a great movement, but if you’re short on equipment Lateral Planks can work great as a substitution.
Stir the Pot
Stir the Pot is a very challenging core stabilization movement that is often underestimated by some of the athletes I train. The exercise looks simple enough: do a plank with your forearms on a stability ball and move them around in small circles.
However, the bracing, balancing and counterbalancing that your core has to do to keep your body stable while it shifts around on a stability ball will challenge even the most advanced lifter.
Need a Training Program?
Coach Horton has 20 years of experience training elite level athletes at schools like the University of Tennessee and Georgia Tech. He has also written plenty of programs for other coaches and friends and family.
So, whether you need a program to improve your performance in your sport or you just want to look good at the beach, there is a program designed just for you.
More Links and Info
Looking for some more great exercises to take your training program to the next level? Check out our core exercise library and crush your goals!