Farmer’s Carry Muscles Worked – Introduction
What muscles do farmer carries work, how do you do this exercise, and what are its benefits?
Your time and energy are valuable commodities, so it makes sense to spend them wisely.
Working out is expensive, in terms of time AND energy, so you should make your training as time-efficient and productive as possible.
This means focusing almost exclusively on the most powerful compound exercises like:
And avoiding workouts that are longer or more complicated than necessary.
Junk exercises and sets are the death of productive, time-efficient training!
So, get in, train hard, and get out of the gym – preferably in an hour or less per session.
Long, complicated workouts are not just unnecessary; they also make consistent training far harder than it needs to be.
If you are really short of time, you may even want to try minimalist training.
Minimalist strength training workouts strip away all but the most essential exercises, often leaving just a couple of movements that can be done in 30 minutes per less.
Farmer Carries, the subject of this article, are particularly good for minimalist strength training and provide an enormous amount of bang for your workout buck.
Farmer Carries Muscles Worked
Farmer’s walks, also known as farmer carries, are a compound exercise.
That means they involve two or more joints and several muscles working together.
However, the reality is that Farmer carries are much more than a compound exercise because they work almost every major muscle in your body.
From the ground up, these are the muscles trained during farmer carries:
Lower body muscle groups
- Gastrocnemius and soleus – your calf muscles
- Quadriceps – muscles on the front of your thighs
- Hamstrings – muscles on the back of your thighs
- Abductors – muscles on the outside of your thighs
- Adductors – muscles on the inside of your thighs
- Gluteus maximus – your butt muscles
- Gluteus minimus and medius – muscles on the side of the hip
Upper body muscle groups
- Core – your midsection muscles, including your abs
- Deltoids – muscles of your shoulders
- Trapezius – your upper back muscles
- Biceps – muscles on the front of your upper arm
- Forearm flexors – muscles that control your grip
In addition, farmer carries have the potential to improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
Depending on how heavy and long you perform them, your heart and lungs will also get a great workout.
Benefits of the Farmer’s Walk Exercise
Do farmer carries deserve a place in your workouts?
Consider these benefits and then decide!
Farmer carries provide your upper traps and deltoids with an intense workout.
Combined, these muscles are sometimes called your yoke.
If you want a stronger, more muscular upper back and broader shoulders, farmer carries will help.
Build bigger forearms and a vice-like grip
Powerful hand muscles and grip strength are reliable predictors of longevity.
The stronger your grip, the longer you are likely to live. ¹
Also, a mighty grip will improve your performance in many exercises, not least deadlifts, where grip strength is often a limiting factor.
Finally, farmer carries will build bigger forearms, which can add a lot to the aesthetics of your arms.
Increase your core strength
Core is the collective term for the muscles of your midsection, including rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae.
These muscles contract inward to create intra-abdominal pressure and support your spine.
As a result, the farmer’s walk exercise provides your core with a very effective workout routine.
Get fit and burn calories
Walking is one of the best ways to get fit and burn calories.
Walking with weights in your hands is even more effective and will build serious full-body strength, too.
Combined with a reduced calorie diet, farmer carries will help you lose weight and get lean.
A time-efficient workout
Short on time?
A few sets of heavy farmer carries are just what you need to get a lot of work done in just a few minutes of training.
Try our minimalist farmer’s walk workout at the end of this article!
How to Do Farmer Carries
To enjoy all the benefits of Farmers carries, you need to do them correctly.
The good news is that this is a very straightforward exercise and all you need is a set of dumbbells and some space to walk, even in your home.
- Place two dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart and stand between them.
- Squat down and grab the handles, so your palms face inward.
- Straighten your arms, drop your hips, lift your chest, brace your core, and pull your shoulders down and back.
- Without bending your arms or rounding your lower back, drive your feet against the floor and stand up.
- Keep your core braced and pack engage your shoulders and upper back.
- Then let’s walk!
- Walk around your training area or even in a hallway of your home.
- Cover a prescribed distance, e.g., 15 yards, go for a set time, e.g., 30 seconds, or just continue until your grip starts to fail.
- Set the weights back on the floor, rest for a moment, and then repeat.
How to perform the farmer’s walk exercise tutorial
Farmer’s Walk Variations
Dumbbell farmer carries are great, but that’s not the only way to do this functional exercise.
So here are a few carry variations to try that’ll make this exercise even more challenging and effective.
Kettlebell farmer carry
Kettlebells tend to have thicker handles than dumbbells, which makes them harder to grip.
Use kettlebells instead of dumbbells to give your forearms an even more intense workout.
Hex dumbbell farmer carry
Hit your grip even harder with hex dumbbells.
Grip the head of the dumbbells to develop stronger fingers and forearms.
Dumbbell Hex Carry
Hex bar farmers carry
Heavy dumbbells can be hard to control during farmer carries and may rub on your legs.
Using a hex or trap bar eliminates this problem and should mean you can use a lot more weight.
Hex trap bar farmer walk
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This exercise starts with a regular deadlift.
Then, instead of putting the weight down, you take your barbell for a walk.
While this exercise will feel awkward, it’s that awkwardness that makes it so challenging and effective.
Zerchers carries are any exercise where you hold the barbell in the crooks of your arms.
Zercher carries are a challenging variation of Farmer carries and provide your biceps and upper back with an intense workout.
Front rack carry
For this variation, you hold your dumbbells/kettlebells in front of your shoulders, i.e., in a front rack position.
As the Zercher carry, this variation increases upper back engagement and is an excellent exercise for better posture.
Front rack carry for a stronger core
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The only real drawback to farmer carries is that you’ll need a reasonable amount of space to do them, preferably outdoors.
If that’s a problem, you can get a similar workout from doing farmer or dumbbell step-ups.
Just grab your weights and step up and down using an alternating leg action.
The higher the step, the more demanding this exercise becomes.
With this overhead carry variation, you hold your weights above your head instead of down by your legs.
This requires and develops excellent shoulder stability and triceps strength.
Single-arm farmer carry
Use one weight instead of two to hammer your core muscles, especially your obliques.
You’ll need to work harder to stabilize your spine and keep your torso upright.
This is a very effective midsection exercise.
It’s also useful if you only have one dumbbell or kettlebell to train with.
Single-arm farmers carry using a kettlebell
Minimalist Farmer Carry Workout
You can use farmer carries as a main or accessory exercise in your strength training workouts.
Just slot them in wherever you feel it’s appropriate.
Alternatively, the farmer carry makes a great end-of-workout finisher.
Or, if you are short of time, you can combine farmer carries with push-ups for a minimalist workout that takes just a few minutes but still trains almost all the major muscle groups of your entire body.
Set up two cones about 10-15 yards apart.
Use any kind of markers, such as rocks, weight plates, or even just a couple of sweat towels.
Place your dumbbells on the floor next to one of the markers.
Pick up the dumbbells and farmer carry them to the other end of your course.
Set them down and pump out ten perfect push-ups.
Pick up your dumbbells, walk back to the first marker, and do nine perfect push-ups.
Continue in this fashion doing one less push-up each time and finishing with one rep.
Push up & Trap bar loaded carry challenge
Alternatively, you can start your push-up pyramid with 12 or 15 reps.
However you do it, this workout will hit your legs, core, shoulders, back, chest, and arms in a unique way without spending hours in the gym.
Farmer Carries Muscles Worked – Wrapping up
Despite its obvious simplicity, the farmer carry is an excellent full-body exercise.
Working most of y from your calves to your forearms, it provides a time-efficient workout using nothing but a pair of dumbbells.
Done with heavier weights, farmer carries will build impressive levels of overall strength and muscle mass and will give you an unbreakable grip.
However, done with lighter weights and for a longer distance, the farmer’s walk can help develop your fitness and burn fat.
Many so-called fitness experts think an effective strength training program needs to be complicated to be effective.
However, farmer carries prove that this is not always the case.
As simple as it is, this incredibly effective exercise will deliver excellent results for anyone prepared to do it.
Do This Exercise EVERY DAY for Gains! (Skinny Guys/Beginners)
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¹ An Indispensable Biomarker for Older Adults – National Library of Medicine