by Ben Edwards
The ring and pinky fingers are the weak link when training with thick bars. This article introduces the reader to specialized training designed to improve the support grip strength of the ring and pinky fingers. I call this combo exercise “Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer’s Drag.”
The equipment needed is minimal. An Olympic barbell and about 200 pounds of weight plates will provide adequate resistance options for everyone from a raw beginner to an advanced strength athlete.
I borrow the name for this exercise from Farmer’s Walks – where an athlete walks while holding a weight in each hand.
A Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer’s Drag is performed by grasping one end of an Olympic barbell – at the end of the loading sleeve – using only the ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb. Then you simply deadlift the barbell and then you have the option of dragging one end of the barbell while you walk with the end you’re gripping elevated.
To minimize damage to one end of the barbell it’s best to drag the bar on grass or dirt – if you choose to do the Farmer’s Drag – instead of the Farmer’s Deadlift.
As with the Farmer’s Walk, there are two basic methods of increasing the difficulty of the exercise.
1. Add more weight to the bar. The weight is added to the same loading sleeve that you are gripping with your ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb. That way the weight plates won’t dig a wide furrow in your yard if you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag.
- If you’re worried about the bar damaging your grassy training area you can secure the end of the bar that you’re not gripping into a single roller skate – duct tape comes in handy – and perform the Farmer’s Drag in your garage, on the street, or on a running track. All without fear of damaging the bar or the training surface.
- The roller skate tip also works well for a trainee that isn’t strong enough yet to drag the empty barbell using their ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb strength.
2. Drag for longer distance if you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag.
- Or hold for a longer period of time if you’re doing the Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift.
TAILORING A WORKOUT TO YOUR GOALS
For Maximum Strength – Heavy Loads and Short Holds.
- Holds should be kept in the 5-second to 10-second range if maximum strength is your goal.
- This holds true whether you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag or the Farmer’s Deadlift.
- The Farmer’s Drag will simply be done for very short distances and the Farmer’s Deadlift will be done for low reps – anywhere from 1 to 3 reps.
For Strength-Endurance – Moderate Loads and Long Holds.
- Holds can be much longer than when your goal is maximum strength. 30 seconds to 60 seconds is a common approach to strength-endurance training.
- The Farmer’s Deadlift will be done for higher reps – anywhere from 8 to 20.