Loaded Carries the Holy Grail of Strength Training

Loaded carries are probably one of the simplest and most effective exercises there are. They are also one of the basic movements we perform on a daily basis. We constantly pick stuff up and carry it throughout the day.

Now it may not always be a refrigerator or a huge boulder, unless you work in some kind of labor position, but you are still carrying something every day. This is why loaded carries should be included into everyone’s training. Some benefits of loaded carries are increased strength, size, conditioning, and fat loss.

The reason loaded carries are so effective is that we try to carry a maximum load as far as we can before setting it back on the ground. The longer we are able to carry the load the stronger we will get. This is called time under tension which you may have heard about. So not only will you get stronger the longer you are able to carry the load, but you will also increase your muscle size as well.

Now think about the muscles involved on a loaded carry which one’s are we using? Well, if you answered just legs you are wrong. Every muscle in your body is being used to help you carry that load across a certain distance. The longer you carry that load the more you will start to notice and feel muscles you never knew you had.

This is the beauty of the loaded carry and the effect it has on training your body. Loaded carries are self-correcting as well. Which means the heavy load you are using will force you to use good form otherwise it will be a short trip as you will be quickly setting the weight back down on the ground.

Didn’t I mention something about conditioning and fat loss? Yes indeed I did. Pick up a heavy weight and carry it as far as you can without putting it down and you will notice your lungs are on fire from gasping for air. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see for yourself. Like Dan John and others we believe this is one of the best fat loss solutions out there. Dan even created an infomercial about it and what he says is “pick up a heavy weight carry it as far as you can. Thank you. I will now take your money”.

A great benefit of loaded carries is that they are easy on the joints. Eccentric movements are what cause the most stress on the joints think of a heavy bench, squat, or deadlift. When you are performing a loaded carry you are not involving your joints in the eccentric movement. This allows you to carry some heavy objects without any extra stress on the joints.

I can see you are ready to start carrying around some weight transforming your body if not you may go back to your bon-bons and Oprah reruns. Here are a few different variations for you to try.

Kettlebells loaded carry complex:

1.) Grab 2 kettlebells carry them overhead for 25 meters or more
2.) Then perform 5 double push presses
3.) Keep the kettlebells in the rack position against your chest and walk back 25 meters
4.) Now perform 5 double front squats
5.) Lower the kettlebells to your sides and perform a farmers walk back down for another 25 meters
6.) Finish with 5 double cleans or long cycle then you can rest and put the kettlebells down

*Once you pick up the kettlebells you cannot set them down until after you have finished your 5 cleans. This can be done with only one kettlebell as well, just do one whole side first before moving on to the other.

Sandbag loaded carry complex:

1.) Perform 5 sandbag clean and press
2.) Carry the sandbag in a front loaded position and walk for 25 meters
3.) Perform 5 sandbag front squats
4.) Carry the sandbag back for 25 meters
5.) Rinse, recycle, repeat for as many rounds as your heart desires

*Obviously you will be setting the sandbag down on the ground during the clean and press. Do not set the sandbag down during the carry and squats.

Triple pleasure loaded carry:

1.) Grab a backpack and put some weight in it, use a bodyweight vest, or put some chains around you
2.) Grab a harness and attach a sled, tire, car, etc. to you
3.) Pick up a heavy pair dumbbells, kettlebells, anvils, etc.
4.) Now just go for a walk with all 3 as far as you can

*If you don’t have a harness and still have something to push, carry the heavyweights with the backpack on you first. Then drop the weights keep the backpack on you and then push the object you have. Just keep going back and forth between the two.

There you have it a few different variations for you to try. You can do these for a certain amount of sets or go for time and see how many rounds you can get within a certain time period. Add these to your training sessions at least 1-2 times a week and you will witness firsthand the benefits of loaded carries.

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