The Farmer’s Walk is one of the most unique exercises you can do for full-body development. It pretty much involves holding weights by your sides and walking for a distance. And you can honestly use any tool to achieve this whether it’s kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, a trap bar, or dedicated Farmer’s Walk handles.
If you’ve ever followed the sport of Strongman then you obviously know what we’re referring too. For the Farmer’s Walk, these behemoth men carry huge loads in each arm in a race against other competitors to see who is the toughest among them.
And there probably isn’t a muscle that this movement doesn’t activate either. Not to mention, your posture and grip benefit greatly. Oh, and you want a jacked core? This is one of the best ways to do it.
Here’s a guide with everything you need to know about the Farmer’s Walk…
How To Do The Farmer’s Walk
Let’s first show you how to do the movement effectively. You’ll need some weights of your choice to hold in both hands for the Farmer’s Walk. If you don’t have weight, you have some options. Use two, gallon water jugs, two suitcases, two buckets, two bags with the same amount, or get as creative as you can be!
If you’re learning how to do the Farmer’s Walk and are no proficient with it, then you should avoid using too much weight as it’s dangerous for you.
- Start with a hip-width stance and the weights on the floor just outside of your feet.
- With your back straight, bend your knees and hinge at the hips to grip the weights. Make sure to grip the weight deep in your palms and not your fingers.
- Stand up straight while bracing your abs and keep them tight throughout.
- Slightly elevate your traps and pull your shoulders back.
- Walk for a distance while maintaining this position.
- Use a weight that you can handle without excessively straining. After you can walk a decent distance with proper form, add 5 lbs on each side.
- Don’t let your shoulders fall forward as this places stress on the spine and decreases your ability to walk at a good pace, especially with heavy loads.
- If you feel your grip giving, you can speed up to cover more distance.
The Farmer’s Walk works several muscle groups and essentially the entire body.
Legs – walking and stabilizing your body while holding heavy loads will fire up your hamstrings, quads, calves, and glutes. Anatomically, the hamstrings store up mechanical energy when fully extended at the distal and proximal attachments before the heel touches the ground. (1)
This allows for the propulsion forward and therefore, the Farmer’s Walk is a great way to load the muscles in this position. Plus, it’s a great method for improving athletic performance.
Core – The core muscles or midsection must stabilize the entire body no matter what physical activity you engage in. But it’s especially an essential component of allowing us to be able to lift and carry heavy loads. Without a stable and strong core, we couldn’t balance and we’d literally be all over the place.
Well, the Farmer’s Walk is a very good core builder when using challenging weights.
Back – You have to maintain an erect and rigid posture that supports the carrying of loads for a distance. This activates the muscles of the back and your traps are going to be on fire from supporting heavy loads.
Biceps – Anytime you hold weights in your hands, the biceps are assisting to a degree.
Forearms – the flexors of the forearms are heavily involved when gripping and holding the weight. Combine that with walking for a distance and you’ll build incredibly strong forearms and grip strength, with some size too.
Farmer’s Walk Variations
Here are some effective Farmer’s Walk variations that you can do. Each one will allow you to benefit differently.
One-arm/suitcase Farmer’s Walk
By holding the weight in one hand and not both, you’ll experience unilateral (affecting one side) benefits and improve lateral stability which is often a neglected aspect of strength. This is important for preventing energy leaks that compromise stability, balance, and overall strength and performance.
It’s important to make sure that your shoulders are level and the weight isn’t pulling you down toward one side.
Front rack carry
The front racked version of the Farmer’s Walk involves holding the weights near the shoulders and walking. It’s a great variation for improving thoracic extension (proper upright posture) which is necessary for being able to do any compound lift effectively and with ideal form.
You can use one or two arms for this variation.
The overhead carry forces you to engage another level of full-body stability. You have to balance the weight overhead which is no doubt more challenging than even the basic Farmer’s Walk.
It’s also a good way to improve scapular stability which carries over to other compound lifts.
By holding a barbell in the crease of your elbows, your posture will benefit greatly, and again, you’re forced into thoracic extension. Because if you have bad posture with this variation, bad things can happen. Although, you should start light and perfect your form before progressing with heavier weights.
Suitcase with overhead carry
So for this variation, we’ll combine the suitcase carry with the overhead carry for even more stability benefit. It’s best to use dumbbells, kettlebells, or anything similar for this one.
Use light to moderate weights for this one as going too heavy is dangerous and counterproductive.
Farmer’s Walk Benefits
There are many benefits of the Farmer’s Walk.
You’ll build incredible full-body strength including the Farmer’s Walk in your weekly workout routine. It’s a very underrated movement that challenges essentially all muscles not to mention, it’ll build scapular strength when done properly and consistently.
More muscle mass
It’d be impossible to not build muscle with the Farmer’s walk. Sure, it’s different than the conventional exercise but the weight load is often enough to tear down muscle tissue and continue to adapt to the increasing stimulus.
You must keep your shoulders back and maintain proper posture with the Farmer’s Walk to be able to handle heavy loads and not injure yourself. As a result, you’ll develop good postural habits and if you do it enough, the benefits are totally worth the effort.
By simply holding heavyweights in your hands, your grip will get stronger as the forearms flexors are constantly engaged and working double time. Challenge yourself by trying to walk farther and farther while holding the weight.
The Farmer’s Walk is one of the best things you can do for full-body strength, stability, balance, and overall development. It’s not a complex exercise by any means however, you still need to do it safely and properly to reap the benefits while preventing injury.
Try out some variations and include it in your training regime for even better overall gains!
Started with much lower BW for carry walk for next competition.