The farmer’s walk is a well-loved exercise. It has long served athletes looking to improve their performance. For those unfamiliar with this exercise, it involves walking while carrying a load. You can do it over a set distance or for a set time.
If you’d like to know what it can do for you, you’re in the right place. I’ve put together 9 of the top benefits of the farmer’s walk. Regardless of your specific training goals, this exercise can benefit you.
1. Develops Core Strength and Stability
One’s first guess when observing the farmer’s walk can be that it is an upper-body exercise. While it is a powerful upper body exercise, there is a lot of magic happening that you can’t see. One of the most sought-after benefits of this exercise is the increase in core stability.
Your core is your prime stabilizing tool in this exercise, as you walk with weight loaded on each side of your body. It’s essential to turn your abs ‘on’ before commencing your farmer’s walk. And keep them engaged for the duration of the exercise! This does wonders for your deep core strength, hammering in on those stabilizers.
If you do this exercise for a while, you’ll notice an improvement in your performance across the board. There is an aesthetic payoff, too – a stable core, usually equals a strong core, and a strong core is a toned core. Goodbye crunches. Hello, abs.
2. Strengthens Back & Shoulders
The farmer’s walk hits your upper back and shoulders in a different way from other exercises. It provides consistent load as you carry the weights through your walk.
Your upper back, traps, and subscapular muscles work for the duration of this exercise. This is to hold your shoulders in an optimal position.
When performing the farmer’s walk, you need to keep your shoulders back and down. This encourages your traps to contract and work in unison with other muscles in your upper back. This is how your shoulder joint is stabilized.
3. Progresses Grip Strength
Having a weak grip is going to set you back in your training. There’s no debating that. But the farmer’s walk is the ultimate solution for weak grip strength. Many coaches agree (including me) that farmer’s walks are one of the best ways of improving your grip.
The farmer’s walk propels your grip strength into progression. It does this by using your hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders and back at the same time. All these areas have a direct impact on your grip strength. They can provide excellent grip strength progressions when trained effectively.
If grip strength is a problem for you, I have a tip for you. Complete 6 to 8 weeks of a program consisting of farmer’s walks. Your performance will skyrocket in your rack pulls, deadlifts, rows and chin-ups.
4. Builds Muscle Mass
The farmer’s walk is one sure-fire way to build mass. Rob King, national champion, record holder and world medallist powerlifter, says, “The farmer’s walk builds muscle ridiculously fast.” He also says, “I’d argue that the biggest reason they’re not used more often is that they’re too simple.”
When it comes to building mass, it’s not always the newest exercise that will be the best thing to happen to your gains. It pays not to stray too far from the basics. The farmer’s walk will make a great addition to your training regime.
Rather than push or pull, this exercise requires you to lift and carry a load without using momentum. In summary, the farmers carry will assist you in the building of lean mass gains. Of course, this is when done in conjunction with other lifts and a macro-specific diet.
5. Aids Fat Loss
Who doesn’t like an exercise that helps boost fat loss?
This high impact, heavy weighted exercise makes it very difficult to cheat. Slacking off is near impossible. You’ll always be working hard! Fancy that! While the farmer’s walk has a specific focus on a few muscle groups, your whole body will work in some capacity. This helps rev up your calorie burn.
The constant effort needed in the farmer’s walk acts as intense activity bursts for your body. Like a HIIT workout, they get your heart pumping and drive your metabolism – both of which are great for fat loss.
6. Boosts Power
Already mentioned in this article, is how the farmer’s walk is so good for your core strength. The thing to note here is that your core acts as a strength and stability base – for all movement. If you lack in core strength, you limit your power (and overall strength).
The core conditioning that the farmer’s walk provides allows you to engage the rest of your muscles correctly. This generates better power output. Progressively overloading this exercise as your body adjusts, will maximize this benefit.
Training your body’s ‘power’ requires you to use your muscles at the max force. The heavier you load your farmer’s walks, the more power you can build. May that be the sign you were looking for to go heavy in this exercise if you’re prioritizing power increases.
7. Increases Endurance
I bet you thought this exercise couldn’t get any more versatile! But yes, farmer’s walks can build your strength, size, power AND endurance! Done with a heavy load, over short distances, this exercise will increase your power. Whereas done with a lighter weight over more distance is the way to build your physical endurance.
When taking an endurance approach to this exercise, your load must still challenge your muscles. The weight you carry should be heavy enough to place strain on your muscle fibers. But light enough to cover the set distance or time with great form.
The farmer’s walk increases both your physical and mental endurance. The long-distance/lightweight walk will push your physical boundaries. The short distance/heavyweight walk provides a workout for your mental endurance.
8. Improves Posture
Our modern-day lifestyle has led to ill postural effects. With most of us seated all day at desk jobs, it’s no surprise our posture suffers. Bad posture affects a lot of us. But the good news is, you can rectify it with the right exercises, and the forming of good habits.
The farmer’s walk allows us to gain an awareness of our muscles. It forces you to think about how you are holding and carrying your body as you move. This leads to better posture, by default.
Consistent practice of the farmer’s walk will see your thoracic spine lift from its slump. It will draw your shoulders back to open your chest. And it will encourage your core to provide your spine with all the support it needs.
9. Prevents Injury
If you think about it, the farmer’s walk is an easy exercise to get right. It’s difficult to stuff this one up. Because of this, it puts you at low risk of injury while performing it. This is especially true when comparing the farmer’s walk to other exercises.
The combined benefits of this exercise help shield you from injury in everything else you do. Creating a strong and stable body is one of the best preventative measures against injury!
As you can see, there is no shortage of benefits when it comes to the farmer’s walk. When done correctly, this exercise can make you fitter, stronger, leaner and shapelier! Additionally, it can send your power through the roof.
Don’t underestimate this basic, but brutal exercise. It’s suitable for all levels and adjustable to suit all training goals. So, there is no excuse for skipping this much loved and trusted exercise.