Farmer's Carry Workout: Comprehensive How-to Guide

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: November 29, 2023
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The farmers carry is a highly effective and functional exercise that has been utilized by farmers for centuries to develop total body strength, stability, and muscle endurance.

It involves walking while carrying heavy weights in each hand, typically using kettlebells, dumbbells, or farmer's carry handles.

This exercise engages muscles of the entire body simultaneously, primarily targeting the upper body, lower body, and core muscles.

The farmer's carry can be performed with various equipment, but for optimal results, I recommend using the following equipment: a trap bar, dumbbells, and high-quality adjustable kettlebells.

From my extensive experience as a certified fitness trainer, after three months of dedicating myself to examining the benefits my clients have derived from the farmer's carry workout, I have compiled a thorough evaluation.

It will guide you on the proper execution of this exercise to maximize its advantages and seamlessly integrate it into your fitness routine.

Quick Summary

  • The farmer's carry is an exercise that involves walking while carrying weights in each hand.
  • It targets various muscle groups, including the grip, core, upper back, and lower body, leading to improved strength and muscle development.
  • The farmer's walk offers extra benefits such as improved posture, enhanced overall functional fitness, and increased cardiovascular conditioning.

How to Do Farmer’s Carry

Farmer carrying a load

To perform the farmer's carry exercise, enhance your grip core strength, and maintain a straight line throughout the movement.

Follow these steps:

1. Select the Weight

Choose weights that challenge your handgrip strength while allowing you to maintain proper form.

Opt for dumbbells, kettlebells, or farmer's carry handles that provide a solid grip. Beginners should start with lighter weights and gradually progress to heavier loads as their

strength and confidence increase.

2. Pick Up the Weights

Maintain an upright posture, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your core tight for stability, as you bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips to lower yourself down and securely grip the weights from the floor using either an overhand grip or a suitcase carry grip.

Also Read: Can You Lift Weights Every Day

3. Walk with Control

Person walking with dumbbells

With the weights in hand, initiate the movement by walking forward.

Maintain an upright posture, keeping your shoulders back and down, chest lifted, and gaze fixed straight ahead.

Focus on taking small, deliberate steps, emphasizing control and stability throughout the exercise.

Avoid excessive bouncing, swaying, or twisting of the body to maintain a straight line from head to toe.

4. Lower the Weights

After completing the desired distance or time, come to a controlled stop and carefully lower the weights back to the floor while maintaining proper form and control.

Bend your knees and hinge at your hips, ensuring a safe descent as you gently place the weights down without any sudden movements.

What is the Farmer's Carry?

Person walking with dumbbells

The farmer's carry, also called the farmer's walk, is a functional strength exercise that involves walking while carrying weights in each hand.

It is inspired by the traditional task of farmers carrying heavy objects, such as buckets of water or feed, over long distances.

In this exercise, you hold weights, typically dumbbells or kettlebells, in each hand and walk for a specific distance or time.

A farmer’s walk can also be performed using a trap bar.

By performing this exercise, a trap bar farmer's carry gives you a more comfortable grip and a more even load distribution.

“The farmer's carry is a fundamental movement pattern that mimics real-life tasks, such as carrying grocery bags or moving furniture. It builds not only strength but also endurance and resilience, making it a valuable exercise for both strength training and everyday functionality."

- Tony Gentilcore, Strength Coach & Co-Founder of Cressey Sports Performance

The Muscles Trained

People walking with dumbbells

Farmer’s walk is a full-body exercise; practicing this exercise involves the work of major muscle groups.

Muscles you can train with farmer's walk are:

Grip Strength

The exercise heavily engages the muscles of the forearms, including the flexor muscles, which are responsible for improving grip strength and wrist stability [1].

Core Muscles

The farmer's walk requires strong core activation to maintain stability and an upright posture while carrying the weights.

The deep abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back muscles all contribute to core strength and stability during this exercise.

Related: Top Core Exercises

Upper Body Muscles

The muscles of the upper body are actively involved in the farmer's carry.

This includes the deltoids (shoulder muscles), trapezius (upper back muscles), rhomboids (muscles between the shoulder blades), and the muscles of the chest and arms.

These muscles work synergistically to stabilize and support the weights during the walk [2].

Lower Body Muscles

Lower back muscles

The farmer's walk also engages the lower body muscles, particularly the quadriceps (front of the thighs), hamstrings (back of the thighs), glutes (buttocks), and calf muscles.

These muscles work to provide stability, generate power, and control the movement of the legs during walking.

The hamstrings play a prominent role in hip extension, knee flexion, and extension, which happens every time you lift your leg and every step you take.

The hip joint becomes more stable during the farmer's walk as the hamstrings grow stronger [3].

Additionally, the farmer's carry is a functional exercise that challenges the entire body's coordination and postural control.

“The farmer's carry is a highly versatile exercise that can be modified to suit various fitness levels and goals. Whether you're a beginner looking to build strength or an advanced lifter aiming to improve grip strength and conditioning, the farmer's carry has got you covered."

- Dan John, Strength Coach

Farmer’s Walk Benefits

Woman holding dumbbells

The farmer's walk offers a range of benefits that contribute to overall strength, stability, and functional fitness.

Here are some of the key benefits of incorporating farmer's walks into your training routine:

Enhanced Posture

Consider all variations of carries as dynamic standing planks.

Maintaining proper posture while carrying weights is essential to prevent discomfort, look graceful, and reduce the risk of injury.

Improved Breathing

Breathing into your chest while hauling heavy weight is more challenging than you might think.

Adopting a deep belly breathing pattern, which is reinforced during carries, promotes more efficient and effective breathing.

Enhanced Shoulder Stability

The rotator cuffs and deltoids work diligently to keep your shoulder socket in place, even when faced with the resistance of heavy dumbbells attempting to pull them out.

Both muscles engage isometrically during carries, and the prolonged time under tension contributes significantly to shoulder stability.

Boosted Grip Strength

Person walking with dumbbells

Grip strength is vital both inside and outside the gym.

Many pulling exercises rely heavily on grip, as the ability to hold onto an object directly impacts your ability to perform the farmer’s movement.

Moreover, a firm grip is associated with longevity.

Enhanced Mental Toughness

As your grip weakens, muscles start to burn, and your lungs beg for air during carries, there's a little voice in your head urging you to quit.

Each time you silence that voice and persist, you cultivate greater mental strength and resilience.

Enduring the discomfort and refusing to quit carries over into all aspects of life, fortifying your mental toughness.

Incorporating a farmer’s walk into your fitness routine offers a multitude of benefits, including improved posture, enhanced breathing, shoulder stability, grip strength, and mental toughness.

By embracing these advantages, you can experience significant improvements in both your physical and mental well-being.

Common Mistakes

Person walking with dumbbells

While performing the farmer's walk exercise, there are several common mistakes to be aware of to ensure proper form and maximize the benefits.

Using the Wrong Weight

While you shouldn’t be afraid to use a heavier weight, if your form is being compromised, that weight is too much.

Keep the weight heavier when going shorter distances and lighter if you’re carrying for a longer distance, such as 40 to 60 meters.

Not Keeping the Core Engaged

Any time you are upright and moving, you’re engaging the muscles in your core.

The power, stability, and support generated from these muscles will help you move quicker and protect your lower back from injury.

Leaning Forward at the Waist

Performing the farmer’s walk bent over at the waist causes pain and discomfort in the lower back.

This can happen when you get fatigued, and your technique begins to suffer. To properly perform this move, brace your core, stand tall, and look straight ahead for the duration of the exercise.

Poor Upper Back Positioning

Upper back

During farmer's carries, it's common for lifters to compensate for fatigue by raising their shoulders high, which is beneficial during shrugs.

However, to optimize upper back activation and maintain proper form, it's important to keep the shoulders back and down throughout the exercise.

By doing so, you effectively engage and strengthen your lat muscles throughout the entire movement while also preventing the weights from resting on your sides.

Excessive Swinging or Bouncing

Allowing the weights to swing excessively or bounce up and down can strain the muscles and increase the risk of injury.

Maintain control over the weights and focus on smooth, controlled movements without unnecessary swinging or bouncing.


How Effective Are Farmer Carries?

Farmer's carries are highly effective exercises; aside from developing core stability, farmer walk improves overall strength, functional fitness, and cardiovascular conditioning exercise.

Incorporating farmer's carries into your routine has functional fitness benefits, as it mimics real-life activities involving carrying heavy objects, thereby improving your ability to perform daily tasks with ease.

Does a Farmer Carries Build Muscle?

Yes, the farmer's carry is a highly effective exercise for building muscle in multiple muscle groups, such as the grip, forearms, shoulders, upper back, core, and lower body, as it engages these muscles while providing a beneficial cardiovascular stimulus.


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