Traditionally, movements like the farmers walk were only done by hardcore strength athletes. But in recent years, such exercises have become a norm among fitness enthusiasts looking to improve their health.
In fact, the farmer' walk is considered the easiest yet the most unique exercise anyone can do. Thanks to its ability to ensure full-body development since it engages muscles throughout the entire body.
To sum up, this functional workout will help to improve your body's performance in a very simple manner. But, can you do a farmer's walk on a treadmill? Well, that's what I'll be trying to address in this guide.
First, here's what you need to know about the farmer's walk before you incorporate it into your treadmill workout routine!
What’s a Farmer’s Walk?
The farmer's walk/ farmer's carry refers to a strength & conditioning workout that involves holding a heavyweight in each hand as you walk for a specific distance. For instance, you can carry heavy weights like dumbbells or kettlebells in both hands and walk forward in a straight line for a certain duration/ distance. Alternatively, you can use other tools like dedicated farmer's walk handles, barbells, or a trap bar.
After walking the given distance or running out of walking space, set the weights down and repeat the walk in the opposite. In short, this exercise is very easy but quite effective. Specifically, a farmer's walk is a full-body workout that provides an excellent cardio stimulus while engaging most of the major muscles.
Therefore, this exercise will make you stronger, increase your oxygen intake, boost your heart rate and help you burn tons of calories. Better yet, it's easy on the joints, has few technical demands, and can be done. In other words, a farmer's walk is one of the most functional exercises to do, regardless of your fitness goals!
Farmer’s Walk Benefits
As mentioned earlier, the farmer's walk is a full-body workout with several potential benefits. These benefits were first discovered by a former All-American discus thrower known as John Dan.
Unfortunately, many people are still hesitant to try this great exercise, missing out on its benefits. For instance, a single farmer's walk exercise can help you shed some extra pounds, build serious muscle mass and improve your performance in other workouts.
Here are other notable benefits of the farmer's walk you may be missing out on:
⦿ Burns calories
Similar to deadlifts and squats, the farmer's walk is a compound. According to the ACE (American Council on Exercise), this means that the exercise engages major muscle groups and several joints all at once. Also, compound workouts tend to consume a lot of energy, helping you burn a lot of calories.
In addition, a farmer's walk is a high-impact exercise. This forces your muscles to work overtime, melting extra fat in the process. More notably, this full-body workout puts your entire body under strain. As a result, it builds muscle mass in various areas while burning the extra fat around them, making it an intense, calorie-burning workout.
Lastly, a farmer's carry workout requires constant effort and focus since it's usually performed for over 60 seconds. This intense burst of activity speeds up the metabolism and burns body fat. At the same time, it gets your heart pumping since it's a high-intensity cardiovascular workout.
⦿ Functional strength
In addition to being a compound workout, the farmer's carry is also a functional exercise. Simply put, the strength you build while performing this workout helps you to undertake various tasks in your daily activities. For instance, carrying a suitcase or bags of groceries is a real-life variation of the farmer's walk. Therefore, performing a farmer's walk in the gym will allow you to undertake such tasks more confidently.
⦿ Improves cardiovascular health & endurance
The farmer's carry is a demanding workout that will certainly have you breathing heavily. But, according to research, high-intensity workouts like the farmer's carry increase aerobic capacity. In turn, this minimizes the risk of cardiovascular conditions like stroke & heart attack.
In addition, a farmer's walk provides several benefits when it comes to physical endurance. This will allow you to sustain higher performance levels for longer. On the same note, the exercise will be challenging for your muscles, helping you adapt to the distance and weight as you progress.
⦿ Improved posture
Nowadays, most people sit at their desk jobs for more than 8 hours a day, leading to increased cases of bad posture. Interestingly, proper exercise habits like doing a farmer's walk are a great way to rectify bad posture.
To be precise, a farmer's walk increases your general body and muscle awareness by strengthening your core, back, and shoulders. This significantly improves your pelvic and spinal alignment, leading to better posture. Also, holding weights in both hands during the exercise eliminates imbalances in your body to create stability.
Overall, the exercise will reduce stress on your lower and upper back, helping you undertake your daily tasks with better form.
⦿ Builds muscle mass rapidly
Even though the farmer's walk is more of a hold than a lift, it works extremely well in building muscle mass. Moreover, the exercise works the muscle in slightly different ways than regular strength training workouts. This makes it a good addition to your workout program if you want to introduce variation.
Besides, the farmer's walk is one of the few exercises that challenge all muscle groups throughout the body. This leads to better muscle growth in the shoulders, traps, hamstrings, forearms, glutes, and obliques. So, if you're looking for a workout that will train all your muscles in a single exercise, performing a farmer's walk at home is an excellent option!
⦿ Strengthens grip
If you're planning to undertake any strength training such as deadlifts, it's important to strengthen your grip first. This is because it's almost impossible to reach your full potential with free weights if you've got weak grips.
Thankfully, one notable benefit of the farmer's walk is that it improves grip strength. This is because the exercise will work your hands, forearms, back, wrist, and shoulder simultaneously. These muscles support your grip strength when they're properly trained. Specifically, the workout will rapidly strengthen your forearms, wrists, and hands because of the pressure exerted upon them. Besides, you'll be pushing through overhead lifts and deadlifts without the weight slipping from your hands.
⦿ Reduced chances of injury
Lifting weights in farmer's carry is a common practice that we've been doing for years. For instance, our ancestors would carry loads from one area to another using their bare hands. Although technology has made things easier, we still lift objects in our daily lives, just like in farmer's walk.
Therefore, our bodies are used to lifting objects in this form, making it a more natural form to lift weights. But, more importantly, this risk of injury is quite low when doing the farmer's walk, provided you maintain proper form and focus while exercising.
Farmer’s Walk Muscles Worked
One major benefit of the farmer's walk is that it's a full-body workout that builds muscle strength and endurance. However, the exercise targets some muscles more heavily than others because of the nature of the movement pattern.
Some major muscle groups targeted during a farmer's walk are;
Core muscles are responsible for stabilizing your entire body regardless of the physical exercise you're engaging in since they support the pelvis and spine. However, it's particularly an important component when you're lifting and carrying heavy loads. The farmer's walk is good for developing a stable & strong core, especially when using challenging weights. This keeps your body stable and upright as you walk forward.
⦾ Hip and leg muscles
Walking while holding heavy loads targets all the muscles in your body. Therefore, the farmer's walk will engage your glutes, quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings.
The hamstrings store mechanical energy when fully stretched at the proximal and distal attachments before your heel touches the ground. In short, they play an important role in lifting the legs with each step to allow forwarding propulsion and stabilize the knee and hip joints.
Like hamstrings, Quads/ Quadriceps play an important role in knee extension. This helps to initiate the forward movement throughout the exercise.
On the other hand, the glutes are responsible for the hip joint extension. Therefore, they're responsible for stabilizing the hip joint throughout your farmer's walk exercise.
Lastly, calves are lower leg muscles that help to stabilize the ankle joint while doing the farmer's walk.
When performing a farmer's walk, you must maintain a rigid and erect posture to support the loads on your hands while walking. This movement activates your upper back muscles, including the traps and trapezius muscles. Also, you need to retract your shoulders up and back, helping you maintain a tall posture throughout the workout.
⦾ Forearms & Biceps
The biceps contribute to grip strength since they're responsible for arm flexion. So when you hold loads in your hands, these muscles assist in one way or another. As for the farmer's walk, these muscles stabilize the elbow joint and grip the weight throughout the movement.
Similarly, your forearms' flexors are heavily engaged when holding and gripping weight. When combined with walking, this results in incredible grip strength and strong forearms.
How to Do Farmer's WalkThe farmer's walk is an appropriate workout for most people and relatively easy to perform. However, despite the simplicity of the exercise, it's essential to ensure you get it right. Or else you may end with injury if you don't do it correctly.
Luckily, in this section, I'll show you how to effectively do a farmer's walk. Before you start, you will need some weights to hold in both hands during the workout. If you're a beginner, avoid using too much weight since it is dangerous for you. Instead, start with lighter weights and advance slowly until you reach a more challenging weight.
With that in mind, follow these steps to perform a standard farmer's walk;
- Choose appropriately weighted dumbbells and put them on the floor on each of your body.
- Bend down at the knees and hips to reach the dumbbells and grasp them in each hand.
- Hold the dumbbells firmly and stand tall while keeping your core, back, and shoulders tight.
- Step forward and start walking consistently, maintaining an upright posture.
- Once you've reached the desired walking distance, put the dumbbells down while keeping a neutral spine and tight core to avoid injury.
- Rest for about 1 to 3 minutes, and repeat the steps until you finish the intended sets.
Can You Do a Farmer’s Walk on a Treadmill?
In one simple word: Yes! Treadmills like Sole F63 Treadmill have proven to be quite effective for those who want to perform a lightweight farmer's walk. However, there are certain factors you need to bear in mind while doing a farmer's walk on the treadmill for safety reasons.
First, regardless of whether you're using a folding or non-folding treadmill, make sure you set the speed at a low setting. Walking too fast increases your chances of losing balance and falling off the treadmill belt during the exercise.
Secondly, as with other farmer's walk variations, keep your core engaged and shoulders down while doing the farmer's carry on the treadmill. This will also help you to maintain proper form and avoid injury.
Lastly, take shorter strides than you would when walking on flat ground. This will prevent you from tripping off the belt and help you keep your balance while walking on the equipment.
How To Do An Incline Treadmill Farmer’s Walk
- Turn on the treadmill and set the pace at 2 to 3 mph and incline at 15%.
- Grab 20kg weight plates or dumbbells in both hands and get on the treadmill.
- Walk with the dumbbells at your sides for a certain distance/ duration, keeping your chest upright and core tight.
Farmer’s Walk on Treadmill Safety Considerations
Generally, the farmer's walk is considered a safe exercise for everyone, especially since you can modify time or distance and adjust the resistance. For instance, you can scale the distance walked and the weights.
However, there are some safety considerations you should bear in mind, especially if you want to learn how to do the farmer's walk on a treadmill.
First, if you've got an injury, avoid doing this exercise until you've recovered fully to prevent further injury. Also, if you've got a pre-existing health condition that limits your ability to do cardio, consult your doctor first before you try this exercise. Finally, the farmer's walk can worsen various health conditions like pain-related problems in the lower back, neck, and shoulders.
Secondly, ensure you maintain proper form during the exercise to avoid injury and increase the effectiveness of the exercise program. This includes keeping your spine neutral during the exercise to avoid lower back injuries.
In addition, pay close attention to your body during the workout. If you experience pain or discomfort, stop the exercise immediately and rest for about 2 - 5 minutes before resuming the farmer's walk.
Lastly, always choose a weight that gives you full body control through the farmer's carry. Specifically, start the movement with lighter weights (10- 15lbs.) and walk for shorter distances (10 - 20 yards) to prevent injury. Once the exercise starts feeling due to developed endurance, slowly increase the weights you carry and the distance you walk.
Farmer's carry simply refers to walking while carrying weights like kettlebells or dumbbells in your hands. This functional move offers several benefits, such as improving cardio endurance and strengthening your core, legs, and posterior chain. Better yet, you can modify the intensity of the exercise by using heavier or lighter weights, and you can even do the farmer's walk on a treadmill.
Moreover, incorporate proper nutrition, warm-ups & rest into your routine to see continuous progress with this exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long to do the farmer’s walk?
You can perform your farmer's walk for 25 - 30 seconds or walk 10 steps forward and back. Do this for 2 to 3 sets, maintaining proper form and technique throughout each set.
2. How much weight for a farmer’s walk do I need?
Farmer's walk is a simple and safe exercise that helps gain muscular endurance and strength. Better still, it allows you to experiment with various weights. As a beginner, you should start with 25 lbs on each hand and gradually increase the weight as your grip strength increases. On the other hand, advanced lifters can carry their total body weight for over 30 seconds.
3. How often should one do a farmer’s walk?
Since the farmer's carry isn't as demanding as the deadlift, you can do it more than once a week. Generally, doing the farmer's walk 1 to 3 times a week is a great target, but that will depend on your workout schedule.
4. Is farmer’s walk a good cardio workout?
Farmer's walk has proven to be an excellent form of cardiovascular workout. To be precise, the added resistance increases your heart rate and helps to build lean muscle mass.