Loaded Carries Boring? Nah! They're Essential

Emily Beers


Vancouver, Canada



We often talk about the importance of four movements: pushing, pulling, squatting, and hinging. All the while forgetting about one very important, albeit less sexy, way we move: Carrying!


Oddly, carrying is one of the most common things we do in life—and also it is one of the most challenging things. Just ask any new mother who spends half her day walking around with a baby (why is it that all babies can sense when you’re sitting and scream bloody murder until you reluctantly stand up and walk around with them?).



And although there really is nothing sexy about carrying six bags of groceries across the street and up the elevator to your apartment—in fact, all it is is annoying—it’s something you probably want to be able to do your entire life. So, you might as well find ways to make carrying things, be it groceries or babies (maybe both), that much easier.


Try this carries-only workout the next time you’re looking for a challenge that will also translate into making regular life just a little bit easier.


Functional Carry #1: Farmer Carries

Every time I do a heavy farmer carry I’m surprised how hard they are. It’s almost as if I block out and forget the pain each time so I don’t talk myself out of ever doing one again.


  • Start with 2x100m farmer carries with two minutes rest between with 50 percent of your body weight (25 percent in each hand). If that goes well, add 10 percent. If that goes well, try the super challenge.
  • Super challenge: 100m body weight farmer carry (50 percent each hand) without putting the weight down.
  • Focus on walking with perfect posture and keep your arms close to your sides.


Farmer Carries



Functional Carry #2: Overhead Carries

If your shoulder flexion permits, try a single arm overhead carry. Again, focus on perfect posture (neutral spine, shoulders back) and keep that elbow completely locked out overhead.


  • Start with 2x50m with each arm using a weight that allows you to maintain perfect posture. If that goes well, add some weight.
  • Super challenge: 100m double arm overhead farmer carry with 15-20 percent of your body weight in each arm.


Overhead Carries



Functional Carry #3: Bent Arm Carries

Bent arm carries are great for shoulder and back health. Same deal as the other two carries—focus on perfect posture, only for this carry bring your elbow up to your shoulder height and then bend your elbow 90 degrees so the weight is just above your head pointing toward the sky. Keep your arm in line with your body and don’t let it splay out to the side.


  • Start with 2x50m with 10-15 percent of your body weight maximum. Add weight if you can maintain the perfect position.


Bent Arm Carries


Functional Carry #4: Back Rack Carries

These are great because they allow you to go a little heavier and spend some serious time under tension with your core firing on all cylinders. If you have access to a yolk, even better, and if not keep them a bit lighter.


  • Start with 2x20m with the equivalent of your body weight on your back. Make sure you keep a rack close by so you can plant it right into a rack at the end of the carry. If that’s a success, load on up! How heavy can you go?


Back Rack Carries


Functional Carry #5: Double Barbell Farmer Carries

If you have the ability and space, try a farmer carry with two barbells in each hand parallel to your body. This will force your wrists and your core to work a whole lot harder to control those weights. If you master this, carrying eight bags of groceries will be easy peasy.


  • Start with 2x20m with an empty barbell. If you can do that easily and with control, then consider adding some weight.


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