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January 14, 2022 10 min read

The farmer’s walk is a trial of any man’s fitness level. It is a chance to show off your strength, resilience, muscle endurance, and overall stability. The farmer’s walk is often left for the most experienced powerlifters as it requires a significant amount of muscle strength. Although it is pretty demanding, it is a great  compound exercise if you want to achieve a burly build. To help you get shredded with the farmer’s walk exercise, we have compiled the tricks of the trade.

two strong men having a farmers walk contest in gym

What Is the Farmer’s Walk?

The farmer’s walk tests your ability to lift heavy gym equipment. Also known as the farmer’s carry, it is a strength-training body conditioning exercise that touches many of the major muscle groups in the body. The farmer’s walk is an excellent addition to your workout routine to strengthen your muscles and increase muscle gain. 

The farmer's walk is a simple yet highly impressive exercise that involves holding two dumbbells in each hand and walking a specific distance. It combines the power of lifting, grip strength, balance, coordination, great posture, and mobility to provide the ultimate body conditioning pack. While only a few gym enthusiasts are privies to the benefits of the farmer’s walk, other gym-goers choose to stick to the conventional habit of simply picking up a dumbbell.

While the latter is excellent for significant muscle groups, it is limited in benefits. The farmer's walk encompasses all the necessary boost that any builder needs. The farmer’s walk is an excellent addition to an already superb workout program regardless of athleticism. 

Who Can Perform The Farmer’s Walk?

The farmer’s walk is an excellent addition to the general fitness population. Whether you are a beginner or a professionally competitive bodybuilder, the farmer’s work is tailored for all. One of the major sects of athletes that benefit from the farmer’s walk is the bodybuilders. It doesn't matter if you are a fitness enthusiast or professional bodybuilder; the farmer’s walk can help you achieve a bigger muscle build by stimulating mass gain in these muscle groups. It increases overall mass composition, bone density, and body build.

Powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters whose activities revolve around lifting heavy gym equipment require immense upper body strength to achieve this. The farmer’s walk trains and strengthens the muscles of the upper body. It is a functional exercise that also improves grip strength, which makes it easier to lift heavier.

Muscles Activated In Farmer’s Walk

Although the farmer’s walk was formerly abandoned for the more muscular men as an event to show off their macho strength, it has since been integrated into the basic fitness routine of many men looking to get shredded. This surge in popularity is primarily due to the realization that the farmer’s walk, unlike some deadlift variations, not only targets the upper body but also includes the lower body muscles.

The farmer's carry is a full-body exercise that touches the major and minor muscle groups of the body. Because all muscles are connected, its effect spans the upper body, shoulder, chest, pelvis and even includes the entire muscle groups in the posterior chain. It packs a lot of contraction and places pressure on these muscles. All in all, the farmer’s walk would give you a run for your money. Other than being able to build your abdominal walls for a six-pack, here are some muscles activated during the farmer’s walk:

  • Arms: The arm muscle groups are part of the primary muscles activated during the farmer’s walk. Because the bulk of the weight rests on your arms, the arms and shoulders are greatly challenged. The weight of the dumbbell activates the biceps, triceps, and forearm muscles. The bicep is responsible for grip strength and flexing the arm. As you execute the farmer’s walk, the dumbbells remain firmly gripped in your arms, ensuring that your biceps are activated throughout the routine. Coupled with the triceps, which help provide the elbow with extension and stability, it is no surprise that the farmer’s walk is the top choice for overall arm strength, mobility, endurance, and mass growth.
  • Forearm flexors: The forearm flexors assist in gripping the weight, and your biceps assist in balancing the weight. This significantly increases arm muscle strength, arm size, and grip strength, directly beneficial to the forearm flexors.
  • Shoulder muscles: The shoulders also play a role in keeping your arms stable. The weight of the dumbbells activates the scapula, which the biceps and triceps are connected to. The weight strain challenges the shoulder muscle and activates the shoulder stabilizer muscles to put the weight correctly on the joint. Muscles such as the deltoids and rotator cuff muscles are activated and are charged with maintaining stability during the performance of the farmer’s walk exercise.
  • Traps and upper back: The muscle is an intricate system of connecting the muscles, so it is no surprise that the trapezius and upper back muscles are engaged during the farmer’s walk. During the farmer’s walk, you are expected to maintain a proper posture involving erect shoulders. This would help carry the load and distribute the weight equally amongst the muscles to avoid muscle fatigue. This leads to the activation of the deep back muscles and traps. 
  • Core muscles: The farmer's walk primarily works the core muscles. Core strength is a necessity for navigating our daily life and the inside of a gym. Most high-intensity exercises require immense core strength; therefore, if you are looking to build strength in your core muscles, the farmer’s walk is an excellent option for you. Your midsection, which holds your core muscles, is charged with bearing the bulk of the weight during the farmer’s walk. Your transverse abdominis, multifidus, obliques, erector spinae, and pelvic floor muscles are engaged during the lifting of the weight and the walking across the room. The transverse abdominis, a deep core muscle that cinches your spine and pelvis gets the most out of the farmer’s walk.
  • Lats: The Latissimus Dorsi, which are the most predominant back muscles that are charged with postural movements, limited movements of the arm, and keeping the spine neutral, are equally activated during the farmer's walk.
  • Hip and adductors: The hip and adductors help in movement and carrying the body weight. The hip flexors and adductors help to control the direction, and in doing so, they are strengthened.
  • Glutes: Glutes are significant muscles required for walking, running, and jumping. They also play a crucial role in stabilizing the body. The farmer’s carry engages and strengthens the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, the muscles charged with balance and coordinated movement. The strengthening of this muscle helps reduce the tension on the back, reducing the risks of injury.
  • Hamstrings and calves: These muscles of the legs help with mobility and balance. They play a massive role in the triple extension of the body. The calf assists in the flexion of the knee, and the hamstrings help in the extension of the legs. Together, they ensure better mobility and stability of the body.

Benefits Of Farmer’s Walk

The farmer’s walk is a compound exercise that touches all the components of the body. Some of its benefits include:

  1. Increased muscle strength: The farmer’s walk recruits all the major muscles during the lifting and walking with the weight. While it might require an immense amount of power, it trains these muscles and increases their level of endurance and muscle capacity. The heavier you can lift during the farmer’s walk, the more strength-training your muscles receive. This is both functional and a benefit to enjoy at the gym as you will execute weighted exercises with ease.
  2. Grip strength: Grip strength is enhanced during the farmer’s walk. It is underrated as a functional motor feature.  Grip strength is transferable to sporting activities, increasing an athlete's performance. By gripping a weighted piece of equipment, you are constantly working and strengthening your forearm flexors.
  3. Improved posture: All the muscles which are directly linked to the spine- which includes the core, back, and shoulder muscles- are activated during the farmer’s walk. This strengthening of these muscles leads to an improvement in the spinal alignment. Our posture is often compromised in activities that we find normal, like sitting at a desk. In the long run, this leaning of the spine can become a more pronounced slouching that would lead to an unfavorable rounding of the body. The farmer’s walk is a superb exercise choice that can help correct all the shortcomings in your posture.
  4. Burning calories: Deadlifts are excellent choices for increasing metabolism and burning extra calories. Although it depends on weight and deadlift type, coupled with the walking distance, the farmer’s walk is an excellent option for losing the extra calories. The farmer’s walk is a compound exercise, requiring even more energy to execute. This is an easy way to cut up and lose body fat.
  5. Reduce back pain: Thanks to your postural muscles being strengthened, some of the stress placed on your spine and back muscles begin to seep away.
  6. Improvement in daily activities: Whether it includes carrying the trash out, lifting the furniture, or taking the groceries ins, the muscles implemented during the farmer’s walk are the same muscles needed to carry out these actions. Strengthening your muscles always translates to your daily activities. This increases your fitness and your ability to carry out these activities. 
  7. Increased muscle mass: Studies show that  muscle mass is a great way to predict weightlifting performance. Weightlifting helps to bulk up your muscles by increasing muscle mass. The more you can lift, the more significant the increase of your muscle mass. This is because weightlifting contracts the muscles and stimulates hypertrophy in the cells. This increases the overall thickness and size of your muscles, providing a more buffed-up look.
  8. Improves cardiovascular health: The farmer’s walk is a taxing exercise that will get you gasping for air. It requires a breathing technique to help you delay the onset of muscle fatigue due to lactic acid build-up in the muscles. With controlled breathing, your lungs can experience an increase in aerobic capacity. This is effective in reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases or exercise-induced asthma. This leads to healthy lungs and the ability to train your muscles for a more extended period.

How To Do The Farmer’s Walk (Form)

 

The farmer’s walk is easy to execute, but it requires excellent attention to detail. It is fit for different people regardless of their current athleticism.

To do the farmer’s walk:

  • Select equally-sized appropriate dumbbell weights that you will feel comfortable carrying.
  • Place them on the floor on each of your sides.
  • Stand with your feet firmly planted shoulder-width apart.
  • Hinge down at the hips and bend at the knees, reaching your left and right arms for the dumbbells.
  • Hold the dumbbells with an overhand grip.
  • Deadlift the dumbbells by hinging your hips and knees back to an erect position.
  • Keep your back straight and neck neutral throughout these movements.
  • Grip the dumbbells firmly.
  • Stand tall with your chest proud and shoulders back.
  • Engage your core.
  • Gazing forward, begin to walk forward in equal controlled steps.
  • Come to a halt at the desired distance.
  • Keeping your core tight and sound neutral, hinge at the hips and lower the dumbbell to the floor.
  • Stand erect and rest for a minute.
  • Reach down, grip the dumbbell, and begin a new repetition.

Tips To Hold Form

As you perform each repetition and your muscles begin to fatigue, you might reflexively adjust your form by launching over to accommodate the weight. This is a poor form that does not target the right muscles and increases the risks of injuries. To learn how to hold the proper form, here are some tips to help you along the way.

  • Start with lighter weights: While heavier weights will increase muscle contraction and greatly increase muscle mass, it is dangerous to skip light weights for heavier ones. Lightweights are easier to move and are a great way to train your body posture during the farmer’s walk. They place less stress on the muscles, reduce the risk of injuries, and are easier to adapt to. Start with lighter weights and scale up to heavier weights when you begin to plateau. This would ensure a safe advance of muscle tolerance.
  • Take slow paces: Fast, uneven paces messes with your breathing and lead to early muscle fatigue. This would make you unable to get the most out of your exercise. Walking fast also leads you to adjust your form to accommodate the extra strain it puts on your muscles. Slow steps help build mental clarity and keep you focused on your form and end goal.
  • Keep your spine neutral: Don’t lean forward or slouch your shoulders. Keep your back locked straight as slouching places more significant stress on your back muscles, increasing the risk of back pain and injuries to the back muscles. Guard your back in place by pulling your shoulder blades back and pushing your chest forward.
  • Get proper set-up: The only way to master good form is to start with good form. Take your time to organize your torso before beginning this exercise. Ensure that your posture is right at the beginning of the training and focus on keeping it that way throughout your sets.
  • Engage your core: Remember to  engage your core. This would help you keep your balance while ensuring that your core muscles are fully activated during the exercise. Engaging your core protects your form and your lower back from injuries.

Other Variations You Can Try

The farmer’s wall can be modified in various ways to suit your fitness level. By simply tweaking a feature of the standard farmer's walk, you are presented with advantages that fit your fitness goal. Some of these variations are easy to perform, and some require extra muscle pumps and energy.  For increased power, pair your farmer’s walk workouts with the PRE-WORKOUT STACK, designed to provide increased energy, muscle fullness, and improved muscle endurance for an optimal workout session.

You can choose to modify the farmer’s carry by reducing or increasing the distance walked. Time takes its toll on your muscles, and you can tweak this element to suit your needs. You can also increase the load by going for heavier dumbbells to improve muscle contraction. Another variation is the trap bar or hex bar carry. This is the dumbbell farmer’s carry but with a hex bar. This variation would enable you to load more weight. It also adjusts your center of gravity to ensure your balance reduces the stress on your lower back.

A more fun variation is the waiter’s carry. This unilateral variation involves pressing a kettlebell overhead as you perform the walk. It is an excellent option for improving muscle imbalances on each side of the body, one at a time. There are lots of farmer’s carry variations waiting to be explored. Each variation is modified to focus on some muscles more than others and can be compiled for the ultimate farmer’s carry program. 

Final Verdict

The farmer’s walk provides a full-body workout of significant muscle groups in the body. It is great for muscle-strength, endurance, and mobility with added cardio advantage. It is a great way to get ripped in little to no time.

Combined with  other full-body exercise for massive gains, the farmer’s walk is a great way to condition your body for an overall shredded look.