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Weighted Carries (The Secret Weapon)

In the field of sports performance it can be difficult to differentiate yourself. As a strength and conditioning coach there are not many tools that I have available to me or that I utilize that many other coaches don’t use as well. The things that work the best have been around forever because well, they work, so there are very few “secrets” in this field. However, I believe what might differentiate myself from others is that I believe in the simplest answer being the correct one. Now, I am well aware that there are many other strength coaches that think like I do but there are also many that enjoy the process of over complicating things. Does overcomplicating things work? I’m sure it does. Does overcomplicating things use up a lot of precious time to make yourself seem smarter? I know it does. Instead of using a bunch of fancy equipment or three to four exercises to solve one problem more times than not a single exercise can solve many problems. A great example of this and an exercise that is a staple of my program is the weighted carry. Unfortunately, it is too simple of an answer to be effective for most people. You mean simply carrying heavy weight fixes problems a, b, and c? But where is the BOSU ball? Or the wobble boards to stand on? Enter eye roll emoji here. Weighted carries are simple but great exercises that have many benefits for athletes, rehab patients, weekend warriors, etc. Below is a list of the benefits of carries and also a number of different type of carries.


Benefits (In No Particular Order):
  • Metabolic Conditioning
  • Grip Strength
  • Improved Balance
  • Hip Strength
  • Shoulder Stability
  • Shoulder Strength
  • Core Strength
  • Creates Tension Throughout Entire Body
  • Improved Posture
  • Teaches Breathing Under Tension


Types of Carries
  • Notes: The videos below were filmed using kettlebells. Most of these carries can be executed using a number of different types of equipment such as dumbbells, trap bars, barbells, sand bags, weighted buckets. Basically anything heavy.
  • Carries can either be done for time or distance. Both are great!


Farmer Carry

Probably the most conventional of the carries the Farmer Carry is popularized by the strongman competitions where they carry enormous amounts of weight for a certain distance.

Can’t play video? Click here: Farmer Carry



Suitcase Carry

The Suitcase Carry is the farmer carry with one hand empty. This is a great exercise to work on core strength and also balance.

Can’t play video? Click here: Suitcase Carry


Waiter Carry

The Waiter Carry is one of my favorite carries especially when working with athletes. It takes a great amount of strength and stability to carry heavy weights over-head.

Can’t play video? Click here: Waiter Carry


Suitcase + Waiter Carry

The combination of a Suitcase Carry and Waiter Carry puts stress on the body like few exercises can. The weight I carry over my head is usually half of the weight used for the suitcase portion.

Can’t play video? Click here: Suitcase + Waiter Carry


Goblet Carry

Goblet carries are easily done carrying a heavy kettlebell or dumbbell. It can also be done carrying a sandbag or heavy potato sack. Anytime weight is carried at chest level in front of your body breathing becomes a factor. Thus, this is a great exercise to build abdominal pressure and to learn to breathe under tension.

Can’t play video? Click here: Goblet Carry


Ambiguous Objects


Ambiguous objects are great to carry because the weight is usually distributed unevenly throughout the object making it a great functional exercise. There, I used the word functional that everybody goes crazy for and in the case it actually fits! Ambiguous carries are just that, ambiguous. You can carry anything that you can lift off the ground. Some common objects are physio balls filled with water, sand bags, potato sacks, buckets filled with water, etc.

Another great way to carry heavy weight is on your back. Simply filling a backpack with random, heavy objects make for a great workout. Be creative and have fun with it!


Trust Me, They Work


I wouldn’t ever ask anyone to try anything that I haven’t already tried myself. Weighted carries are a personal favorite of mine and have been a part of my personal program for a long time now and I can honestly say they have helped me in a number of ways. I have also seen my athletes reap the benefits of doing all of the carries listed above. If you are looking for an easy way to fix a number of problems try adding weighted carries into your program. They just might be the key part that you have been missing.

Bill Marnich

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