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Deadlifts or farmers walk [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jan 8, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Deadlift or farmers walk

Deadlifts or farmers walk


The deadlift and farmers walk are two very different exercises. If your main interest is grip strength do farmers walks. If you want to build muscle and strength in your entire body do more deadlifts. 

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What are your goals

Why do you compare the deadlift and the farmers walk? Does the barbell slip out of your hands on a regular basis? Do you want to prepare for a strongman event? Maybe you want to improve your shot put distance? Whatever it is, it is important to know what your main goal is. When I talk to beginners in training they usually want everything at once. This is a good approach to frustrate yourself. Prioritise and execute to beget the results you desire. Lack of focus will result in a lack of progress and giving up. I usually din three main interests in fitness:


  • Looks
  • Performance
  • Health


If you are mainly interested in health you have an idea that you are pursuing. You might have seen one of the Marvel or DC characters in a movie. You want to look as handsome as Captain America or deceiving like Black Widow. If this is your game be prepared for sacrifices. The ideal look does not come cheap. Your diet will be very restrictive or boring. Your beauty regime will demand to get two hours earlier than you like. Or you have to spend a fortune on a team that supports your perfect look. The choices you will make might not always be healthy but make you look better. Everybody wins except your digestive systems.


If you are mainly into performance all you care about are personal records and beating the competition. You will not particularly care whether you are looking pretty while doing it. The exercises with the most carry over to your relevant sport will interest you most. You will train hard. Injuries will occur and you will have to regenerate from them. Eddie Hall might not be the most beautiful human being you have ever seen, but he can roll a pan into your purse. 


The last group is mainly interested in health. You are not willing to sacrifice your well being to make the front cover or lifting the Dingle stones. You will look for the most relaxing and balancing exercises. Your diet will be most natural and balanced. Extremes will be avoided as this where the risk of injury and disease lives. 


Based on the fact that you are comparing the deadlift with the farmers walk you are most likely in the performance camp. People who want to look pretty or be healthy usually do not care that much about their grip strength. 


The barbell deadlift


The barbell deadlift is one of the most iconic free weight movements you can do. It can be loaded heavy and addresses most of your body. Getting better at the deadlift is helpful for most strength related sports. 


The barbell deadlift starts with the barbell on the ground. Place your mid feet under the bar. Grip the bar with both hands outside your legs. Build tension and get down to the bar. The pull is initiated from the legs, not from the back, You will pull up the bar with straight arm until you can not go further. This is how you do a conventional deadlift. There are more intricacies to it. You can follow this blog to learn more in the future. 


The biggest advantages of the barbell deadlift are its comprehensiveness and manliness. There are not many lifts which address the entire body under such a high load. There is also something very primal and satisfying about picking up heavy stuff off the ground. The deadlift has you covered in these departments/


The biggest disadvantages of the deadlift are its risk of injury and lack of explosiveness. A poorly performed deadlift can leave a mark for your entire life. Be careful when you go heavy. The deadlift is also not the best barbell lift to develop your explosive strength. Olympic lifts like the clean and jerk and snatch are better for this. They are also harder to learn.


The farmer's walk


The farmer's walk and its variations are one of the most commonly known strongman exercises. Farmers walks are all about walking as far as possible with a given weight. 


A farmer's walk starts by picking up the weight that needs to be carried. Often this is a handlebar. You can also use kettlebells if your gym does not have handlebars. Once you have a good grip and locked out the weight you go. No prisoners taken. Go as far as you can as quick as you can. Just take care to not fall down. This is pretty nasty business when you run around with heavy weights.


The biggest advantages of the farmer's walk are its simplicity and adaptability. There are limitless variations in terms of how heavy and far you go. You can do it with barbells, kettlebells, trap bars, whatever you fancy. You can even pinch grips plates and give it a go.


The biggest disadvantages of the farmer's walk are its lack of effectiveness and risk of injury. A farmer's walk does not activate a lot of muscles. It is mainly about grip and your traps. When you fall with a heavyweight it usually spells injury. Take special care at turns and avoid running.


Which is better, the deadlift or the farmer's walk


As always it depends on your goals. If you are only interested in competing in grip strength competitions the farmers walk is the better option. If you want to build up your back the farmer's walk is not of a lot of use. The farmer's walk has more carry over to real life than the deadlift. It is way more likely that you have to carry things around than pick them around while they are attached to an iron rod. 


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Topics: Lift stronger, Deadlift, Fitness, Strength