Farmer’s walks can be useful but you still need to implement the right weights, distances, and durations to reach your fitness goals.
For example, to build muscle with the farmer’s walk, you want to do 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout at 70-75% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) to grow your muscles.
Since MVC requires specific devices to measure, you likely want to use a weight where the durations above are just not too challenging.
How many pounds or kilograms these are will vary from person to person. Additionally, this implies that how long the distance you walk is not that important for building muscle with the farmer’s walk.
When in doubt, you can start light and build up until you hit the ranges above.
You can also check out the weight guidelines for other fitness goals below.
If you want to achieve something like better muscle endurance and/or better cardiovascular health, the weight you should use in farmer’s walks will be a lot lighter.
What is your training goal with the farmer’s walk?
Before you pick up weights and run around like a farmer you want to think about what you are trying to achieve.
This plays a big role in what weight you want to use in the farmer’s walk exercise.
First of all, you have the choice between cardiovascular workouts to train your heart and lungs and resistance training workouts to train skeletal muscles.
After that, you can choose between goals like muscle growth, muscle strength, and muscle endurance.
Farmer’s walk weight and distance for muscle growth
Something important to note first is that the main muscles you work with a farmer’s walk are engaged in isometric aka static ways.
This is relevant because the sets and reps for exercises like this look different from the more standard dynamic resistance training exercises.
One review of isometric studies offers a few ranges (1).
You want to do farmer’s walks of 3 to 30 seconds per set (about 3 to 40 steps) and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout at 70-75% of maximum voluntary contraction to grow your muscles.
Maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) is something you measure with specific devices most people don’t have at home.
The conversion is likely not perfect but you can do the farmer’s walk with a weight where the durations above are just not too challenging.
To know how many pounds or kgs this is for your current strength level, you will have to try out a few different dumbbells or other weights.
What distance the farmer’s walk duration ranges above come down to will depend on your speed. The most important detail is holding the weights for long enough.
Farmer’s walk weight and distance for muscle strength
The same review from above also mentions ranges for improving muscle strength with isometric exercises. This comes down to increasing how much force your muscles can generate.
To do this, you want to do farmer’s walks for 1 to 5 seconds per set (about 2 to 7 steps) and more than 30 to 90 seconds per workout at 80-100% of maximum voluntary contraction to strengthen muscles.
Again, unless you have a way to measure MVC, you likely want to do the farmer’s walk with a weight where you are just able to complete these ranges.
You will likely not cover too much distance with weights like this.
Farmer’s walk weight and distance for muscle endurance
The same review does not offer specific isometric ranges for improving muscle endurance.
However, while the guidelines are less strict, a farmer’s walk can still be great for improving this fitness component in a few areas.
Any weight where you can do a farmer’s walk for more than 30 seconds (or about 40 steps) should at least be decent for improving muscle endurance.
You can definitely also go lighter, for longer durations, cover a lot of distance, and still get many of the benefits of farmer’s walks in this area.
Farmer’s walk weight for cardio
The weight, distance, repetitions, and set guidelines for training cardiovascular health with a farmer’s walk are even less precise than muscle endurance.
Basically any weight that can you carry over a distance for longer than a minute at a pace where your heart beats at a speed above 70% of its maximum can be considered a cardiovascular workout.
At this weight and duration, you will still engage the muscles worked in farmer’s walks but the main focus will be on engaging your heart and lungs.
Exactly how long you should do the farmer’s walk depends on things like your training goals, personal situation, and preferences.
An example workout could be 2 minutes warm-up, then a 1-minute farmer’s walk at a fast pace, 90 seconds of active rest, and about 7 to 12 sets of the 1-minute 90-second sequence.
How many meters or feet of distance this comes down to depends on your speed.
If you have a certain daily fat loss goal, you can use the number of calories burned with farmer’s walks to make a rough estimation of how long to walk or how much distance you have to cover to achieve this goal.
Should you go heavy on a farmer’s walk?
If you want to build muscle and/or improve strength, you should go relatively heavy on a farmer’s walk. With other training goals, you likely want to choose lighter weights.
How much weight should I use for a farmer’s walk?
To build muscle, you want to use a weight where you can do the farmer’s walk for 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout (in theory 70-75% of maximum voluntary contraction). For other goals, the recommended weight varies.
How long should a heavy farmer’s walk be?
For a goal like muscle growth, a heavy farmer’s walk should be 3 to 30 seconds per walk and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout. For strength, the durations will be shorter. For endurance and cardiovascular health, the durations will be longer.