The growing popularity of the strongman sport, which frequently includes the farmer’s carry as an event, has contributed to the exercise’s general growth in reputation. The farmer’s carry was popularized by enormous guys running with heavyweights, but anyone of any skill level may benefit by picking up some dumbbells or kettlebells and going for a walk.

The farmer’s carry guarantees to improve your overall body strength, posture, balance, and coordination regardless of where you’re performing this full-body exercise. It doesn’t get any easier than this when it comes to fitness.

The farmer’s carry consists of lifting something heavy and walking with it. In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about the farmer’s walk, including its advantages, how-to, variants, and more. 

This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:

  • How To Do Farmer’s Carry
  • Farmer’s Carry Benefits
  • Common Farmer’s Carry Mistakes To Avoid
  • Farmer’s Carry Muscles Worked
  • Farmer’s Carry vs Suitcase Carry
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
  • Variations on Farmer’s Carry 
  • Farmer’s Carry Alternative Exercises
  • FAQs About Farmer’s Carry

How To Do Farmer’s Carry

What You’ll Need:

  • Farmer’s walk handles
  • Bumper plates

When doing the basic and intermediate levels of the Farmer’s Walk, the most ideal equipment you will need is a farmer’s walk handles and a clear path to execute the exercise. To prevent injuries, start with a lighter weight between 10-15 lbs. and go for short distances at about 10-20 yards. But when it comes to its variations, you can basically substitute the handles with other free weights available, such as:

Alternative Equipment:

Step 1: Setting Up Your Footwork

Place the weights in your starting position. Stand tall between the handles, feet about hip-width apart and slightly below the middle of the handles. Personal preferences, and the equipment being utilized, may and should be taken into account while making adjustments.

Step 2: Prepare To Lift

Grab hold of the handles and squeeze as hard as you can from the center to just slightly behind the middle of the handles. If you reach too far forward, the front of the handles will pop up, and you will feel as if you are fighting the weight the entire time. 

If you grasp the farmer’s handles too far back, the front end will dig into the floor, forcing you to fall. Personal trainers recommend a grip that maintains the handles parallel to the ground for beginners.

Step 3: Figuring Out The Best Grip Type

The grip style is also a personal preference. Some like to use a “reverse hook grip,” in which the handles are held normally but lock the thumb over the top of the index finger. This will assist in the formation of a strong connection at the spot where your grasp will be put to the test.

You may also try “over gripping,” also known as monkey grip, in which you bend your wrists so that when you raise the handles, it pulls into your palms even more.

Step 4: Breath In & Fix Your Posture

Take a deep breath into your abdomen and lower back once your grasp is secure. Draw your shoulders back to your hips, and then pull your hips downwards until you sense you have produced the most pressure in your lats.

If you’re having difficulties with this step, try repeating it a few times by fixing your breathing, lats, and hips, then relaxing and repeating until you reach the most comfortable posture.

Step 5: Start Lifting the Weights

Stand tall and start walking by driving your heels into the floor, squeezing your glutes, and keeping your shoulders back. You’ll need to consistently walk heel to toe, not on the balls of your feet like a sprinter.

Step 6: Walk Towards Your Goal

Complete the necessary steps, come to a halt, and place the weights on the ground while maintaining a tight core and a neutral spine. Rest for 1–3 minutes before repeating the exercise until you have completed the required number of sets.

5 Farmers Carry Benefits

1. Improves Body Control and Athleticism

The farmer’s carry could help you gain better overall body control. It works with every major muscle group and necessitates balance and coordination, making it an essential exercise for functional fitness competitions like CrossFit and Strongman. Working on your body control improves your sensory skills, which leads to improved body awareness.

2. Enhances Your Grip Strength

It is critical for your training to improve your grip strength. It is beneficial for exercises such as muscle-ups, pull-ups, Olympic lifts, and many other exercises in the gym that need a firm grip. Moreover, grip strength is also useful in performing daily activities like lifting and moving your home, work, or gym stuff and even carrying grocery bags.

3. Promoting Muscle Build-Up

As you may have anticipated, the farmer’s walk has been proven to significantly enhance overall body muscle growth, particularly on the glutes, abs, obliques, hamstrings, quads, calves, lower back, traps, biceps, triceps, and shoulders. It is an exercise that applies to almost every activity you partake in your daily life, inside or outside the gym.

4. Strengthens Core Stability

The farmer’s carry puts your primary muscles’ stability and coordination to the test. It demands proper posture and keeping an engaged core during your exercise. While in transit with loaded arms, your core is greatly engaged as you resist the spinal rotation, flexion, and extension. 

It challenges you to maintain a rigid spine and results in a stronger core which is essential in other heavyweight-lifting exercises. With improved core stability, other physical activities will be much simpler.

5. Improves Posture

The farmer’s carry improves your posture by raising your awareness of your muscles and body in general and pushing you to consider your form. Furthermore, it provides stability and eliminates asymmetries in the body, particularly when two weights are used simultaneously, which results in improved posture by nature.

Common Farmer’s Carry Mistakes to Avoid

Leaning Forward at the Waist

Bending over your waist to execute the farmer’s carry creates pain and distress in the lower back. This could occur when you become tired, and your technique deteriorates. Brace your core, stand upright, and stare straight ahead for the duration of the exercise to do this properly.

Carrying The Wrong Weight

While you should not be frightened to apply a higher weight, that weight is too heavy if your form is being harmed. Keep the weight heavier while traveling short trips and lighter when traveling long distances, such as 30 to 50 meters.

Raising Your Shoulders

The shoulders should be brought down and back during this exercise. Walking with a stooped posture while lifting dumbbells or kettlebells causes shoulder and neck pain. If you feel like you’re pushing the weight toward the floor, you’re doing it right.

Not Keeping Your Core Engaged

When you get up and move, you are also exercising the muscles in your core. These muscles’ strength, stability, and support will allow you to move faster and preserve your lower back from damage.

Rushing To Finish The Set

When most people, especially athletes, believe they are about to drop the weight that they are carrying, they tend to speed through the exercise to finish it quickly. Doing so would not only invite possible injuries, but it will slow down the process of muscle build-up and endurance. If it’s too heavy for you to finish a set, try something lighter to maintain control.

Farmer’s Carry Muscles Worked

  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Calves
  • Glutes
  • Erectors
  • Lats
  • Upper back and traps
  • Abdominals
  • Triceps
  • Biceps
  • Forearms and hand muscles

The farmer’s carry works out your upper and lower body. From beginning to end, this exercise works major muscle groups in the upper body such as the arms, shoulders, upper back, and core.

It also puts a lot of pressure on the lower body muscles, such as the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Needless to say, this is a high-value exercise that you’re going to benefit from.

Farmer’s Carry vs Suitcase Carry

The suitcase walk or loaded carries is a one-sided workout. It is a variant on the farmer’s walk that involves holding one free weight with one arm. While these exercises engage muscles all over your body, they focus on distinct places. By carrying more weight on one side of your body, Suitcase walks exercise your oblique muscles more than farmer’s walks.

The farmer’s walk lets you carry bigger weights for longer distances than the suitcase walk by balancing a free weight on each side of your body. Begin with lesser weights and perfect the form before progressing to heavy dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells while learning the farmer’s walk.

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:

To Enhance Your Body’s Endurance

When building muscle endurance, it’s recommended to perform the exercise for a long distance but with lighter weights. You can time your farmer’s walk for 30 to 60 seconds. Alternatively, you could retain heavier loads and decrease rest durations between sets. 

For Building Muscle and Improved Strength

To enhance muscle mass and improve strength, it is recommended to exercise throughout a wide range of rep levels and training intensities. Performing the farmer’s walk and carrying the weight for 20-40 meters at 75-85% of your one-rep max is a good place to begin.

Farmer’s Carry Variations

There’s a wide range of loaded carry variations, and all of them are catered to meet your level of fitness and goals better.

Kettlebell Carry

The kettlebell carry is identical to the dumbbell carry, except that kettlebells are used instead of dumbbells. The kettlebell’s somewhat bigger handle diameter makes this action slightly more difficult than the dumbbell variant.

Trap Bar Carry

It’s named because of its trapezoid shape, is a Specialty Barbell that is widely used for Deadlifts. This method is somewhat simpler than utilizing farmer’s carry handles since the center of gravity is more balanced, reducing the shifting that occurs when using handles.

Rickshaw Carry

The rickshaw is a one-of-a-kind piece of training equipment often utilized by strongmen and strong women. The rickshaw is most similar to a trap bar, except that instead of weight plates contacting the ground, the rickshaw has a metal frame that does.

This version is somewhat more stable than the trap bar during the lifting component of the movement, but it is significantly more unstable during the walking portion.

Suitcase Carry

A one-handed farmer’s walk that may be done with a variety of equipment is known as the suitcase carry. Only one load is picked up off the ground and carried for a distance in this version.

Because the load tends to pull you to one side, you need to use a lot more core stability to stay upright.

Farmer’s walk handles

This is the traditional way of completing the farmer’s walk, and competitive strongmen and strongwomen most commonly utilize it. Farmer’s walk handles are much bigger than dumbbells and plate-loaded bars, allowing for much more weight to be added.

This version needs a bit more skill than the dumbbell farmer’s walk since the handles tend to tilt back and forth as you go, demanding greater dynamic strength.

Farmer’s Carry Alternatives

The classic farmer’s carry with arms at your sides can be greatly modified. Still, more specialized variants engage the body in such a way that trainers refer to them as alternatives, as they’re worth including in your training.

Zercher Carry

This approach lets you walk ahead while holding a weighted barbell in the crook of your arm. Your upper back muscles and core will be operating on all pistons to maintain a tight posture. Otherwise, you’ll lower the bar forward like a front squat.

The Waiter’s Carry

In this version, the lifter walks while doing an overhead carry of a single dumbbell or kettlebell. The movement is similar to a waiter at a restaurant holding a tray. As you maintain an overhead position while holding a heavyweight, this exercise improves and strengthens shoulder stability.

Vertical Trap Bar Farmer’s Carry

By rotating the bar so that the shafts face in front and behind you, you restrict your grip and create a lot more instability. Press your shoulder blades together and grab the trap bar hard to keep the weight in place.

Frequently Asked Questions

The farmer’s walk targets your upper and lower body. It works the biceps, triceps, upper back, hamstrings, forearms, trapezius, shoulders, lower back, quadriceps, calves, obliques, and abdominal muscles.

Yes, it is a high-impact workout; therefore, you will not be able to slack off during the exercise! Your muscles will work overtime, resulting to leaner, stronger musculature.

To improve your core and grip strength, try 5-7 sets once or twice a week. Once a week with three sets is sufficient for accessory work or conditioning.

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