farmer's walk with kettlebells

The Best Full Body Exercise: The Farmer's Walk

Have you ever seen a guy holding two huge dumbbells and aimlessly walking around the gym floor?

You can see that he’s not trying to find the weight rack to put the dumbbells back, so what is he doing?

That seemingly crazy gym rat is performing the Farmer’s Walk exercise.

What are Farmer’s Walks?

This one movement is a total body exercise that helps to build strength and endurance. It’s also not too shabby for burning some extra calories. 

Let’s take a closer look at the Farmer’s Walk benefits, which muscles are activated, and how to perform the Farmer’s Walk.


Farmer’s Walk Muscles Worked

The Farmer’s Walk is one of the best total body exercises you can do as it targets several major and secondary muscle groups at the same time.

On the lower body, the Farmer’s Walk will activate the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and hip flexors. Adding a rotational or lateral component to the exercise will really light up your adductor and abductor muscles.

On your upper body, this exercise will target the middle and upper back as well as your traps, deltoids, triceps, biceps, and forearms. [1]

By targeting the muscles in your hands, the Farmer’s Walk will also challenge and improve your grip strength.


Farmer’s Walk Benefits

Not surprisingly, the Farmer’s Walk began as a movement used primarily in Strongman lifting.

Given its benefits, you can now find it in most fitness plans, regardless of your physique goals.

Here are some of the proven benefits of the Farmer’s Walk exercise.

You’ll Get Stronger: When performed properly, the neuromuscular demand of the Farmer’s Walk can dramatically increase strength levels in two specific areas: the back and core musculature. [1]

You’ll Get One Hell of a Cardio Workout: As the name implies, the Farmer’s Walk demands that you walk for a certain distance. This is going to tax the hell out of your cardiovascular system, spiking your heart rate, and setting the stage for increased energy expenditure and improved endurance.

You’ll Support Proper Posture: To perform the Farmer’s Walk correctly, you must maintain proper posture, which is akin to the classic Superman pose (chest up, shoulders back, gaze straight ahead). This will help you get better at using proper posture in your day-to-day life.

Your Grip Strength Will Skyrocket: There’s no avoiding this benefit: If you’re going to perform the Farmer’s Walk, you’re going to watch your grip strength increase… dramatically.

It’s a Safer Alternative: Studies suggest that this exercise can be a safer alternative to some exercises that focus a great deal on proper hip hinging like the deadlift. Not exactly the same, but it still hits the same muscle groups. [1]


Farmer’s Walk Equipment

So, what do you need to perform the Farmer’s Walk? You have several options, depending on what’s at your disposal.

The Farmer’s Walk with dumbbells is the most popular as all commercial gyms have them.

You can also perform a kettlebell Farmer’s Walk. In fact, many people prefer this version because it feels better on the wrists.

There is also a barbell Farmer’s Walk. This one is for advanced lifters because you are literally picking up two barbells at the same time, which requires as much balance and stability as it does strength.

Now, with that said, there is special type of barbell that includes handles to remove the stabilization component and focus on strength, power, and endurance. 

You can also use a traditional hex bar to perform Farmer’s Walks.

In essence, grab something heavy in each hand, whether that’s a professional Farmer’s Walk bar or deadlifting straps wrapped around weight plates, then walk.


Farmer’s Walk, How Much Weight?

There is no universal formula for figuring out how much weight you should carry during a Farmer’s Walk. Most of it comes from trial and error.

With that said, as a beginner, I’d say it’s safe to start with a modest amount of weight, such as 25 pounds.

The goal is to carry something that is heavy for a recommended amount of time, right? So, you wouldn’t want to overdo it right away.

Get a feel for what you can carry with perfect form and execution and aim for 20 to 30 seconds.

Each week, aim to walk a little further or a little longer. For example, if you start out with 30 pounds and walk for 25 seconds, try to walk for 35 to 40 seconds with the same weight.

Once you’re able to walk for a minute, increase the weight by 10 to 20 pounds.


How to Perform the Farmer’s Walk

Here’s a rundown on how to do the Farmer’s Walk exercise:

  • Holding a pair of dumbbells (or other equipment) at your sides, make sure your grip is tight and secure.
  • Stand up tall with your shoulders back and chest up.
  • Look straight ahead in the direction you’re doing.
  • Begin to walk at a steady pace. Don’t run.
  • Walk for the recommended amount of time or walk the recommended distance, maintaining perfect posture throughout.
  • Carefully place the dumbbells down, rest for several minutes, and repeat.



  1. Winwood, Paul & Cronin, John & Brown, Scott & Keogh, Justin. (2015). A Biomechanical Analysis of the Farmers Walk, and Comparison with the Deadlift and Unloaded Walk. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching. 9. 1127-1143. 10.1260/1747-9541.9.5.1127.