What Is The Farmer’s Walk Exercise and What Are the Benefits?

Medically Reviewed on 10/17/2022

What is the farmer’s walk exercise? 

The farmer's walk, farmer's carry, or farmers walk exercise is a comprehensive, full-body move. The farmer's walk benefits the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and central nervous systems and connective tissues.
The farmer's walk, farmer's carry, or farmers walk exercise is a comprehensive, full-body move. The farmer's walk benefits the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and central nervous systems and connective tissues.

The farmer’s walk, farmer’s carry, or farmers walk exercise is a comprehensive, full-body move that almost anyone can use as part of their workout routine. This move is commonly included in athletic training programs, but it works for anyone who wants to increase their strength, muscle mass, and other physical attributes. It can also help you lose weight.  

The farmer’s walk is classified as a compound core exercise because it involves multiple muscle groups. In particular, though, the farmer’s walk requires a stable core. 

What muscles do you use with the farmer’s walk? 

You use almost every muscle in your body when performing the farmer’s walk exercise, providing you with strength, balance, and stability.  

Some muscles are more severely contracted by the farmer’s walk than others, though. Muscles that experience the most significant contraction include your: 

  • Core stabilizing muscles
  • Muscles in your forearms
  • Quadriceps femoris
  • Hamstrings
  • Erector spinae 

What are the benefits of the farmer’s walk? 

The farmer’s walk is a great choice for a number of reasons. It causes you to burn a lot of calories. This helps you lose fat while maintaining muscle. 

The improved movement, balance, and strength required for this exercise benefit a large number of physical systems, including your: 

In comparison, many stationary exercises only focus on building muscle and endurance. 

Because of this difference, the type of strength developed by a farmer’s walk is extremely practical. It’s particularly helpful for people with difficult physical jobs. The strength you gain with this exercise can be directly applied to your daily physical activities.

This move can even increase your running and swimming speeds. Using this exercise can increase both your stride length and rate.

What equipment do you need for the farmer’s walk? 

To perform the farmer’s walk exercise, you need to find two suitable weights and an open area. The amount of weight should be based on your skill level. About 40 pounds on each side is the usual recommendation for beginners. You can also start with 20 or 30 pounds in the beginning and work your way up. Gradually add weight when you’re sure that you can complete this exercise with ease and good form. 

Many people use dumbbells for their weights. However, any two balanced, grabbable objects will do the trick. Kettlebells, for instance, work well with this exercise. Another variation requires barbells.  

The open area depends on your exact preferences. Some people choose to cross a set distance, while others simply keep moving for a certain time period. 

Just make sure that you have enough open space to comfortably walk back and forth with weights on each side of your body. Common recommendations for beginners include walking for 30 to 60 seconds per set or completing sets of 10 yards.  

These relatively simple equipment requirements mean that you can perform the farmer’s walk exercise both at home and in a gym.  

How do you do the farmer’s walk? 

The farmer’s walk is relatively simple, but it’s very important for you to maintain proper posture throughout the duration of the exercise. Otherwise, you risk damaging your spine or another body part. Proper form also ensures that this exercise leads to its intended gains instead of off-target effects. 

To perform the farmer’s walk exercise, you: 

  • Firmly grip each weight in your hands. Your palms should face down. Slowly stand up while keeping your spine straight. 
  • When you finish standing, the weights should be at your sides around hip level. This involves dropping your hips and gently bending your knees. 
  • Make sure to keep your spine straight throughout the entire move. You should also brace your core and keep your shoulders back. 
  • Walk forward with short, rhythmic steps that are under your control. Do not wildly swing the weights. That could lead to injury. 
  • Complete the predetermined distance or duration. Then, set your weights back down on the floor.  


Walking can maintain your body weight and lower many health risks. True or false? See Answer

Are there any variations of the farmer’s walk? 

The farmer’s walk exercise can be adapted to a wide range of fitness levels. As discussed above, you can easily make the exercise more intense by increasing the distance or time that you walk and the weight that you carry. 

You can also vary the way that you do the exercise itself. One common variation is the barbell farmer’s carry. This variation is more difficult because it forces you to balance long barbells throughout the exercise. 

To perform this variation, you: 

  • Stand between two barbells that are set up with an appropriate weight.
  • Grab each barbell precisely in the middle using an overhand grip — the same kind that you use with dumbbells. 
  • Safely straighten while keeping your spine neutral. 
  • Begin to walk forward while balancing the long barbells. This balancing requires you to use your arm and shoulder muscles in different ways. 
  • Bend your knees to return the barbells to the ground when you’ve completed your set.  

How should you incorporate the farmer’s walk into your routine? 

Make sure that you properly incorporate this exercise into your workout routine. Since it’s a powerful, full-body exercise, it can interfere with the rest of your routine if you’re not careful. 

Consult a coach or a personal trainer for the best advice based on your own workout. In most cases, you can save this exercise for the end of a full-body training session to avoid getting tired too soon.

This exercise also particularly complements pulling-based exercises if you don’t have a normal full-body training day. This means that the farmer’s walk can follow exercises like: 

  • Deadlifts — the farmer’s walk begins with a motion that’s very similar to a deadlift
  • Rock pulls
  • Rows  

Regardless of what you pair it with, you need to give yourself recovery time after the farmer’s walk. Experts don’t recommend following this exercise with a leg day, for instance, because that could interfere with your recovery and muscle-building process. 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 10/17/2022

ACE: "Farmer's Carry."

Inspire US: "Farmers Walk: Benefits, Muscles Used, and More."

NANBF: "Eight Best Alternatives to the Upright Row."

Sports Medicine - Open: "The Biomechanics and Applications of Strongman Exercises: a Systematic Review."