The Farmer’s Carry

Why perform The Farmer’s Carry for Strength Training?

Muscle Gain Workout using the Famer's Carry


The Farmer’s Carry is well known in strength training circles.  With the Farmer’s style, hold two heavy kettlebells with the palms face forward, as the arms are rotated and held externally, the lats and shoulders are flexed,  helping pack and hold the shoulders into their sockets, the shoulders are held back and downwards.  Pick a distance to walk, any distance, between 30-200 yards or longer.  Most of us have seen these in strongman events, like the “World’s Strongest Man”.  There are many practical applications for this.  As a matter of Fact,  some of the world’s top researchers recommend including these in every workout program for every athlete!

How to Integrate The Farmer’s Carry in your strength training routine –  The hows and whys:

1. Build Strength.  This exercise works every muscle in the human body.  The type of strength you are building is primal, as this exercise poses a challenge that modern man must re-create, and does not exist in our daily routines.  

2. Build Capacity.  When progressively adding weight and distance, this exercise will increase your capacity for all exercise.

3. Improve Posture.  This exercise poses similar challenges for our upper body as does the “snow angel” and the “wall slide”, reshaping the shoulders and back musculature to bring our shoulder back, and express good posture.

4. Grip and forearm strength.  This is the most overlooked type of strength in the world of fitness, but it’s what we use the most!

5.  Hip/Core strength and function – This exercise uses so much core function whilst in movement, Dr. Stuart McGill calls the Farmer’s carry the “Walking Plank”!

6. Thoracic Mobility.  A more naturally extended thoracic spine is a “taller” spine that allows for a better “table” for the head and neck to function on, and better scapular positioning in retraction. This, in turn, helps the scapular stabilizers do their job more effectively, decreasing the chance of assuming a rounded shoulder position, especially as the implements get heavier.

7. Burn Fat.  The more muscles recruited in an exercise and the higher it’s intensity, the more fat get’s burned.  In the entire “exercise library” this exercise ranks second in fat burning, only behind the deadlift.

the famer's carry with milk pails not kettlebells

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS,

Strength Training at Dan’s Barbell and Kettlebell Club, Alameda, CA

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