Offset overhead farmer’s carry: How to do it, and the benefits for your core and shoulders

by Ravi Ram

The farmer’s carry, also known as the farmer’s walk, is a simple yet effective exercise that involves walking while carrying weights. This exercise, which mimics activities like carrying groceries or a suitcase, offers a variety of benefits including strength building, increased stamina and endurance, elevated heart rate, and core muscle engagement.

While the traditional farmer’s carry involves carrying equal weights in each hand, the offset overhead farmer’s carry adds an extra challenge by adjusting the grip. In this variation, one arm is held overhead while the other arm is by your side, with each hand holding a different weight. To perform this exercise, you can use dumbbells, kettlebells, or even substitute them with water bottles.

To properly execute the offset overhead farmer’s carry, begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and placing two kettlebells or dumbbells of different weights on either side of your feet. Engage your core muscles, keep a flat back, and lift the lighter kettlebell into an overhead position with your elbow locked out. Grip the heavier kettlebell in the other hand by your side, set your shoulders back and down, and maintain a tall spine. Begin walking without leaning forward, backward, or to either side. It’s important to squeeze as many muscles as possible and avoid hunching, maintaining good posture throughout the exercise.

The offset overhead farmer’s carry offers several benefits, making it popular in the CrossFit and functional training communities. This compound exercise engages multiple muscle groups, improves movement quality, posture, and strength, and builds muscle through a combination of isometric and isotonic exercise. The varying resistances of the offset weights challenge balance, coordination, and stabilization, recruiting smaller muscles to keep the upper body stable and upright. The exercise also strengthens the wrists and forearms and requires greater core and shoulder control.

Despite its benefits, proper form is crucial to avoid common mistakes. Hunching can cause injuries, so it’s important to keep both shoulder blades retracted and maintain proper posture. Leaning is also common due to the offset weight, but the goal is to work harder to maintain proper posture and prevent leaning. Starting with weights that are too heavy or misjudging the offset can compromise form, so it’s important to gradually increase the weight to find what works best for you.

There are various variations of the offset overhead farmer’s carry that you can try to challenge yourself. If you’re new to the exercise, it may be helpful to start with dumbbells before progressing to kettlebells. Reducing the offset or difference in weights can make it easier to maintain balance. Additionally, you can adapt the exercise by incorporating stairs or hills, measuring reps or distance walked, or combining the carry with other exercises in a superset or giant set.

In conclusion, the offset overhead farmer’s carry is a challenging yet rewarding exercise that offers numerous benefits. It engages multiple muscle groups, improves posture and movement quality, and builds strength and endurance. By incorporating this exercise into your workout routine, you can take your fitness to the next level while enjoying the physical and mental benefits it provides.

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