How Often Should You Do Farmer's Walks?
Updated June 12th 2021
The farmer’s walk is one of the simplest exercises you can perform.
But, do not let the simplicity fool you.
Farmer’s walks are considered to be one of the best exercises to enhance your strength and endurance.
Farmer’s walks also increase your endurance.
Farmer’s walks are also a great conditioning exercise and can help rehabilitate knee or hip instability.
The research proves it.
If you have hip abductor weakness, the farmer's carries are an excellent exercise to strengthen your hip abductors.
The hip abductors consists of:
- gluteus medius
- gluteus minimus
- tensor fasciae latae (TFL)
Traditionally, the farmer's walk is one of the main exercises used back in the day when humans used to farm and walk a ton.
Now, it is one of the main events for Strongman competitions.
As with any exercise, proper form is crucial to not only prevent injury but to obtain the optimum results.
Generally, farmer’s walks should be performed once a week with moderate to heavy weights, as it is excellent in strengthening your glute medius with low levels of quad activation, the VMO and vastus lateralis.
Experienced lifters can follow this structure for 2-3 sets for a time or set distance.
How to Do a Farmer’s Walks
To get the most out of a farmer’s walk exercise, you must tighten your core.
You will not need Strongman tacky since most competitions have you grip the farmer's handles raw.
You should also stabilize glutes and push through the floor while you lift the weights.
Always be mindful of your posture and make sure you are standing tall while looking straight ahead.
To get the most out of your walk, it is not in the actual walking, but it is how you walk with the weight.
Next, take quick steps for your set distance or time.
The handles should not be slammed down.
Exercise control when placing the handles down and maintain a tight core.
The amount of weight will also depend on your overall goals.
It is suggested that for beginners, you use half the times of your body weight.
There is no shame in starting light so that you can get an idea of the movement and proper form.
There are also two ways a farmer’s walk can be performed:
The distance for your farmer’s walk depends on your goal.
Typically, a distance of one hundred feet is a sufficient distance for a more cumbersome carry.
The longer the distance for your walks, the more robust the challenge, which should be increased at reasonable, obtainable intervals.
Take quick steps while maintaining control.
One of the biggest complaints with the farmer’s walk is the pain it causes on your hands as it relates to the grip.
The grip takes time to perfect.
You can use chalk to help ease the pain, but if it is still too much, you can try decreasing the weight until the pain becomes more tolerable.
The ability to endure pain is part of strength training.
Benefits of the Farmer’s Walk
The farmer’s walk is a very beneficial exercise, especially for lifters, since it challenges almost every muscle group:
- Erector spinae
- External oblique
- Rectus abdominis
- Glute max
- Glute med
- Bicep femoris (outer hamstrings)
- Rectus femoris (quads)
More on this later in the Farmer's walk muscles worked section.
Your core is tightened, which acts to stabilize your body.
It will also increase your forearm muscles and improve your grip strength in your hands and wrist.
Your back will keep your posture in line and keep your shoulders from sagging.
Your legs push through the requirement movement forward.
Your body is producing lean muscle and burning fat.
This is not to be confused with losing muscle overnight.
It also ramps up your performance.
It is an integrated exercise that improves mobility and balance.
Perfecting the farmer’s walk can provide you with a genuine competitive edge as it builds muscle fast.
A farmer’s walk is an excellent exercise for those with knee conditions that exhibit a decreased range of motion.
That sometimes proves to complicate knee extension matters that need to be utilized in lunging and squatting.
To overcome the reduced range of motion and limited extension, you should work to strengthen your quadriceps.
Farmer’s walks can strengthen your legs with a minimal knee bend.
So, those with knee limitations can tolerate farmer’s walks.
Farmers walk muscles worked
Farmer's walks work on with high activation:
- Erector spinae
- Glute maximus
- Glute medius
Farmer's walks also activate these muscles for stability:
- Rectus femoris (Quads)
- Biceps femoris (Outer hamstrings)
- External oblique
- Rectus abdominis
Though research is slightly inconclusive about all of the posterior musculature measured during the farmer's walks, it is reasonable to say that the farmer's walk will help you grow your back and hips.
This looks very similar to the effectiveness of posterior chain development between good mornings vs Romanian deadlifts.
When to Perform Farmer’s Walks
Farmer’s walks can be done at any point in the workout, but it is typically done at the end of a workout.
This is because the farmer’s walk is a strenuous exercise that requires every element of strength.
Therefore, farmer’s walks at the start of your workout could hinder the rest of your exercises.
If you lift weights in a cold garage, you will want to speed up the overall time too.
Frequency of Farmer’s Walks
Since farmer’s walks prove to be such a beneficial exercise, you may be tempted to perform them more often than need be.
You may also be tempted to tack on more weight than you should.
Performing farmer’s walks one time per week should produce the appropriate stimulus needed for strength gains.
The weight should be a manageable one while completing two or three sets.
Once you enhance your gains, you will be better suited to add more weight and include them in your routine.
If you choose to increase your frequency, be sure to allow for proper recovery.
Understanding why it takes muscles so long to recover might give you peace in your strength-building phases.
Overdoing it can lead to muscle strain and could increase your chance of injury.
If you had a forearm strain from deadlifts and decide to do more Farmer's walks, you need to reevaluate your goals and decide if your goals are still worth pushing for even though your body is screaming for a small break.
What Happens When You Do Farmer’s Walks Too Often?
I actually ran into this situation several times in my training cycle.
I was running 5/3/1 Forever and decided that I was smart enough to adjust my programming— I wanted to do more Strongman activities while working on my big 4 powerlifting movements.
I was not worried about muscles not addressed by the big 4 lifts; I just wanted to get stronger with Strongman movements.
Was this a good idea looking back?
Definitely not but let us continue on with this story.
So, I decided to incorporate farmer’s walks twice a week because I was inspired by several fitness Youtubers doing farmer’s walks nearly every day and they were killing it in the gym.
Without even giving a thought about their training experience and day-to-day life, I thought it would be a good idea to emulate that.
So, I decided to try twice a week of moderate to heavy farmer’s walks.
Let me tell you this… the first week was fine.
However, every subsequent week felt terrible on my body and on my overall program.
I was doing a lot more than my body could recover and it definitely showed in my training numbers.
I was missing reps in my main set and was not improving week to week.
This was not a linear progression limit.
Yet, I still tried to force myself to improve.
Not an intelligent long term decision on my end.
The moral of the story is that you may regress and not get stronger if you are on a formal program and you choose to add one too many farmer’s walk days.
Even worse, you may injure yourself on another lift like pulling your glutes on deadlifts.
Once you are injured, you may debate on whether or not to take creatine without working out— will it have any effects?
Your goal each week could be to increase the carry weight or duration of the set.
This could be a challenge if you are strength training 6 days a week already.
One of the most significant decisions when performing the farmer’s walk is to choose whether you want to focus on distance or weight.
Beginning with lightweight can ensure you perfect your posture and master the proper form.
Lighter weights with a longer duration can—
- increase your body’s ability to burn fat
- Develop tolerance and musculature to withstand moderate-heavy weights
Conversely, increasing your load turns it into a more strength-based walk.
A heavier weight can improve your other lifts and build your upper body muscles.
You will also notice an increased grip strength.
Remember, increasing your carry weight should be done slowly to get the best results and reduce the risk of injury.
For beginners, it is typically recommended to start at fifty percent of their body weight in each hand.
When you get to doing yolk walks and need the best Strongman yokes available, the farmer's walk is a good movement to begin training for the yokes.