Are Farmers Walk Bad For Your Knees?

In this article, I will explain the advantages of doing farmers’ walk, its benefits, and describe in detail if is it good or bad for your knees.

As a whole, farmers’ walk isn’t bad for the knees. This exercise involves walking on a flat surface and carrying the extra weight in your hands. The extra weight is evenly redistributed throughout the body, so the knees don’t get any additional impact.

I had a number of clients who did struggle with their knees, and farmers’ walk always seems to be the perfect solution. But you need to be smart about it.

is farmers walk exercise good or bad for knees

How To Do Farmers Walk Without Knee Pain?

The most popular form of farmers’ walk is with using dumbbells or kettlebells. So this guide will explain to you step by step how to do it properly, without hurting yourself.

  • Always make sure that your weight is evenly redistributed. Take the same weights. Do not pick up one 20-pound and one 45-pound dumbbell.
  • Ideally, you want to have two exact weights. Don’t use one dumbbell and one kettlebell. Later on, as you get stronger, you can try to carry weight only on one side.
  • If you’re doing this at your local gym, look around you and plan ahead where you gonna go. Make sure you’re not in the way of someone else doing their exercise. Safety first.
  • Do not walk backward (for beginners). You may see people doing some crazy variations. They may walk backward, sideways, using bands, etc. Just walk straight. It will work just fine.
  • After you reach a few meters, feel free to slow down, then slowly move around and walk back from the place you started. This way you can count the laps that you do.
  • Stay away from any uneven surfaces. That includes hills, steps, or bumps. As much as walking on a flat surface is safe, walking uphill with tons of weight will put pressure on your knees. Just because when you walk uphill, this forces your foot to strike from the toes. This is when your knees hurt.
  • If you decide to do some farmer’s walk with the step, always place your foot with the heel first sticking the ground. Not with your toes. This way you put pressure on your glutes and hips, not on your knees.
  • Start by firmly holding and picking up the weight. You should be lifting the weight of the ground just like you do the deadlift. You hinge at your hips, and you keep the lumbar spine neutral. This means there is no bending in your lower back.
  • As you hold the weight, start walking slowly and see how is your balance. Sometimes people’s stability can be off, especially if you’re doing this first time. If you notice anything alarming, stop, leave the dumbbells and try again with less weight.
  • Take baby steps. It’s not a run. It’s not a brisk walk. It’s a slow walk. It’s almost like you walking on the squeaky floor and you don’t want to make a noise. That kind of speed.
  • In the beginning, you will notice the most “burn” in your forearms. That’s because they are not used to carrying the heavy load. But over time this will change and you will be able to walk further, with more weight.
  • You can use straps to wrap around the dumbbells. This will put less pressure on your forearms. But eventually, you want to carry the weight without straps.
  • If you don’t have straps, use chalk or gloves. The last thing you want is a heavy-ass dumbbell falling on your feet because your hands got sweaty.
  • Keep your belly tight throughout the exercise, and pay attention to how your body feels.

Here in this video, you can see the example of farmers walking with great form.

A strongman exercise.

It can feel intimidating when you see on TV those huge guys carrying the weight. That’s why I never really paid too much attention to it.

Until I’ve tried it.

And I’ve been doing them ever since. They are simple and effective.

And here’s the best part. It’s pain-free. There is no way you can get it wrong.

Unless your balance and stability are off.

But even then, it’s a temporary problem. Because each time when you carry a heavy load, you get really stronger. And you balance improves too.

So If you find that you can’t get this stability, just lower the weight. And over time you will be fine.

Farmers’ walk is an exercise that will change your life

What Weight Should I Use For Farmers Walk?

In general, the weight you should be used for a farmers’ walk depends on your strength. There is no number, or special formula, like BMI, that says what range you should be at.

It’s really simple.

Challenge yourself. Pick up (deadlift) some heavy weight that you feel you can carry, and keep your core tight. That it.

It will also show what type of person are you. Some people decide something is too heavy, without even trying.

What you will notice is that after 3-4 sets of walks everything will just feel super light.

It’s like after a heavy deadlift. Once you do it, everything else just seems a piece of cake.

Farmers walk makes you better at everything you do.

No joke.

Every time when I added farmers’ walk to the warm-up session for my clients, their strength just skyrocket.

This means they could lift more weight, easily.

So you can use that as part of your warm-up, as well as the regular workout.

How many different

Here is easy to notice if you are having any difficulties with

What Other Exercises I Can Do With Bad Knees?

I still remember when I was a young coach, I would panic when a client told me he or she have knee pain.

Because I didn’t know what to do. And obviously, they came to me because they don’t know what to do either.

If they knew what to do, they wouldn’t pay me.

So I quickly discovered that training people is not just working with athletes.

In fact, the majority of my clients came to me with some issues. So they needed a way to go around those problems.

To learn more about what you can do for knee pain check out my article on foam rolling for knee pain here.

You have to be creative to work around the problems

That’s how I discovered farmers walk.

But there is a number of other great exercises that can give you tons of benefits, without killing your knees.

Kettlebell Swings

how to choose between kettlebell swings and squats

Many times people have knee issues simply because they have weak glutes. You can see that if someone is struggling with standing off the chair or walking up the stairs. They usually have to help themselves with their hands.

But the biggest problem here is that over time our body will shift the weight from the back (hips) to the front (knees).

That’s how we compensate. One muscle is weak so the other will have to work twice hard. This drives more pressure on the knees. Quads get tight and our posture tilts forward.

But that’s not all.

After that, I see people on the leg extension machine.

Here better solution. Kettlebell swing.

It’s hip hinge movement, just like a deadlift, but is done with much less weight, and more reps.

It develops glutes and helps with restoring optimum posture.

Strong glutes take the pressure off the knees

So it strengthens the body by redistributing the pressure. It also makes you brutally stronger.

But the caveat is that this is quite a complex movement, so it needs to be coached. But it’s still worth checking it out.

Here I wrote a few articles about kettlebell swings and their benefits so feel free to check them out.

Related articles:


  • Farmers walk does not cause knee pain, as long as you do them correctly.
  • Farmers walk exercise can be done as a part of your regular training.
  • It can be used in the warm-up, as well as for the main workout. So technically, as long as you stay low with sets, you can do it every day.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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