Back when I was at university I lived in a particularly bleak area of London. Up and coming was how the estate agent described it (of course) and he was actually right, although we were about 10 years too early.
Every Saturday morning I would take a long walk to the local supermarket (even buses didn’t like going there) and curse every step of the way back whilst the heavy bags cut the circulation from my fingers.
It is of great amusement to me that this is actually recommended as an exercise by many personal trainers and fitness writers alike in the form of a farmer’s walk.
I can see the future of fitness taking the form of unpaid manual labour. The kind of thing they make you do in prison. Not usually what you would pay upwards of £60 an hour for.
How about a dig the road section in the freeweights area? Or a break up a large rock for no apparent reason area next to the treadmills?
Anyway I digress, let’s get back to the farmer’s walk.
What then does a farmer’s walk actually do for you?
Firstly I can see that it might improve grip strength as it’s touted to, but then you could say that of any exercise where you hold a bar or handle with a weight attached to it.
Once you’ve picked the heavy object up there is mostly a compressive force going through your body as you will seek to avoid the weight gaining any lever. In other words you’ll stay upright and keep the weight very close to you.
There is certainly a large amount of force being exerted on your shoulder elevators (upper traps etc) as they try to keep your shoulders from being forced into depression.
If the weight is too heavy they may just give up and let the weight of the object hang on passive structures such as ligaments and joint capsules (not ideal).
Walking around carrying a heavy object will increase both your breathing rate and your heart rate but not to any great extent, especially when compared to intervals on a treadmill or stationary bike for example.
All in all then you may as well just walk to the shops and carry your shopping home.
Get strong so you can accomplish this type of activity but don’t think that this type of activity will get you strong. There are more effective ways to go about that.