One of my favorite exercises to work on core strength, grip, and posture, the farmer’s walk is a must for almost all lifters. Farmer’s walks are a unique option that challenges us to stay in control and keep our muscles rigid as we walk. This is a great option to use as a finisher at the end of a session as well.
In this article I will go over how to do the farmer’s walk, coaching points, muscles worked, and a fun finisher that burns so good!
How To Do Farmer’s Walks
- 1 kettlebell or dumbbell if doing single arm carries
- 2 kettlebells or dumbbells if doing both arms
- A trap bar is also an awesome implement for farmer’s walks
FYI: There are also very-specific pieces of equipment (shown above) designed almost solely for Farmer’s Walks. If you ever find yourself in a Strongman Gym, you may run into some of these. They can be a blast to train with.
- For the sake of these instructions, I am going to assume you are carrying 2 kettlebells or dumbbells. The single arm and trap bar options are essentially the same movement with slightly different benefits. I will talk more about these options in the coaching points
- With the kettlebells at your side, hinge at the waist and bend at the knee until you can pick them up. Remember to always lift with a nice flat back, neutral spine, and a tight core.
- Hold the kettlebells slightly away from your sides.
- Keep the core tight, shoulder blades back, and posture up tall.
- Walk with extreme control. Generally, I prescribe walking 20 yards out and 20 yards back for a set but longer distances are fine as long as the form remains intact.
- Focus on crushing the handles with your grip. Avoid any trunk deviation side to side or front to back. Try to walk as controlled as you possibly can.
Choosing an appropriate weight is critical here. The focus is to keep the core tight and perfect posture. So if you go too heavy and your form deteriorates, you won’t get the full benefit of the exercise and may hurt yourself.
You also don’t want to go so heavy that you can’t hold the dumbbells slightly away from your sides. The reason this is important, is you don’t want your legs constantly bumping into the weight as you walk.
The single-arm variation is an awesome challenge. Because the weight will be pulling your center of mass laterally, you will have to focus on resisting this lateral trunk flexion. I typically would program 20-yard walks with one arm and switch arms to return 20 yards.
The Trap Bar Deadlift Bar (also known as a hex bar) is a great implement to use for farmer’s walks. Because you stand inside the implement and the handles are to the side, you don’t have to worry about your legs bumping into the weight.
Also because the entire implement is connected, there is less variability in the movement that you would see with dumbbells. Therefore, generally, you can go heavier. This is a great option for strength sports athletes.
Farmer’s walks are a simple but effective exercise that can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Improved grip strength: Farmers walks require a strong grip to hold onto the weights, which can help improve grip strength over time.
- Increased full-body strength: Farmers walks involve multiple muscle groups, including the legs, back, and shoulders, which can help increase overall strength and muscle mass.
- Improved cardiovascular endurance: Farmers walks can be performed at a high intensity, which can help improve cardiovascular endurance and increase the body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently.
- Improved core stability: The act of carrying heavy weights in each hand forces the core muscles to engage and maintain balance, which can improve core stability.
- Improved mental toughness: Farmers walks can be physically and mentally challenging, which can help improve mental toughness and determination.
- Improved functional strength: Farmers walks involve carrying weights through space, which can help improve functional strength and everyday movement.
Whole body movement with a focus on:
- Traps and upper back
- Abdominal core muscles (Rectus abdominis, Serratus anteior, Obliques)
Farmer’s Carry Circuit
This is a carrying circuit utilizing the single arm variation.
Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell that you are able to carry with perfect posture. This also needs to be a weight that you can comfortably press overhead and walk with as well.
Farmers carry: at your side
Front rack carry: shoulder height
Overhead: locked out overhead, sometimes called the waiter’s carry
Right arm farmer’s carry x 20 yards
Left arm farmer’s carry x 20 yards
Right arm front rack carry x 20 yards
Left arm front rack carry x 20 yards
Right arm overhead carry x 20 yards
Left arm overhead carry x 20 yards
Rest 1-2 minutes. Repeat for 2-4 sets.
More Links and Info
Looking for some more great exercises to take your exercise regimen to the next level? Check out our core exercise library and crush your goals!