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Light Farmer's Walks Combined w/ Rucking?

I read the article at Tip: Do Farmer's Walks Like This to Get Ripped | T Nation and I have a couple questions around how to pick the right weight for this.

What I’m struggling with is my grip strength. I have a 45 lb hex bar that I load with a pair of 15 lb bumpers for a total of 75 lbs. What gives out first is definitely my grip. Because of this I do the first two work sets of 2:00, then the remaining work sets are 1:05 (I’m adding a second or two per workout). I considered lowering the weight, but it seemed hard to imagine I could lose weight carrying an even smaller percentage of my body weight than 75 lbs. So what I’ve done is to do this all while carrying a 30 lb backpack.

Somewhat related to grip strength, I’ve worked up to a 1 set, 5 rep max of high grip trap bar deadlifts of 380 lbs, it’s just not carrying over that well to holding a trap bar for extended periods of time.

Is it common to need to combine rucking with farmer’s carry to help weight loss? Would shifting more to rucking work better still?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give here.

Since grip strength is obviously your limiting factor on this exercise, why don’t you use lifting straps?

That was going to be my first answer. There is nothing wrong with using straps for Farmer’s walk unless you specifically use them to increase grip strength.

If your goal is fat loss or conditioning or even building overall strength, wearing straps is fine.

I don’t use straps with athletes that require a strong grip but with everyone else I allow straps.

That having been said, it is perfectly fine to add load in the form of a backpack or weighted vest although it can make breathing harder.

Thanks for the advice. I’ll try straps as well.

What weight range do you recommend working up to in order to use this exercise effectively for weight loss?

Weight is only one variable. For fat loss, duration/distance and work/rest ratio are likely more important.

I once wrote an article about how to plan loaded carries. Specifically for fat loss I like sets of 1 minute with 60s of rest. You obviously can’t use as much weight as if you do carries of 20-30 meters for strength.

The weight itself doesn’t matter much as long as each set is hard and that you gradually add weight over time.

Straps. I’d never used them before. They were a huge help. I was able to hit the 2 minute work intervals no problem and will increase the weight next time I do this routine. Thanks again for the tip.

You got it. Sometimes people are too “pure” (like those guys on social media calling out a strongman for using straps for a 1000lbs deadlift). Straps are not the devil. If you want to improve grip strength or compete in a sport where you have to do farmer’s walk without straps, you must do work without straps. But if all you want is to improve body composition and strength straps are a big help.

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On the topic of straps and grip:

Does the grip still get worked even when using straps?

Is it a good idea to include straps sometimes in order to give your grip a break and/or to avoid over-training it?

It depends.

If you are still actively trying to squeeze as hard as if you didn’t have the straps, yes.

If you let the straps do most of the work, no.

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Well, your hands have send the biggest neurological input to the nervous system. The more the hands are challenged, the harder the nervous system will work.

As such I find that the issue is not so much overtraining the gip itself (if that was an issue, construction workers, movers and other physical labourers would be in trouble) but that using straps can diminish the neurological load of some big basic lifts like deadlifts, farmers walk, power snatches, heavy rows. This makes the whole training easier to recover from.

It also saves your hands from getting beat up and torn (mostly applicable to the olympic lifts). That’s why pretty much all olympic lifters often use straps on snatches in training. Strongmen also often use them on deadlifts and even some farmer walk sets in training.

Using straps normally allow you to use a it more weight, which has a greater overall straightening effect.

That having been said, when I train strength athletes and we decide to use straps, it’s not for all sets. In fact, we will do most of the sets without straps and then use straps for 1-2 sets to be able to use a bit more weight.

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