Select Page

Loaded Carries – An Essential Exercise

Loaded Carries – An Essential Exercise

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, Every day I find new ways of training that I realise are so much more potent than the standard training methods of times gone by. By times gone by I mean the 70s, 80s and 90s, because the training methods I am talking about actually predate the 70s. In this category are loaded carry exercises.

Ok , this may need a bit of explanation here. First off, what is a loaded carry? A loaded carry is simply, as the name implies, picking up something and carrying it.

For example, the farmers’ walk. It’s simply picking up a  heavy dumbell in each hand and walking with them. Another one is the bear hug. Pick up something heavy like a sand bag, hug your arms around it and carry it as you walk. You get the picture.

I rediscovered this due to a fitness evangelist I have a great deal of respect for, Ross Enamait. He is a boxing trainer and, like I said, fitness evangelist. His whole approach is just get out and do something. You don’t need a gym, you don’t need equipment, you just need the will to do something. His take on the loaded carry is that you just pick up something, anything and walk with it. He is shown just carrying a heavy rock. You can see his take on loaded carries here.

So now that I’ve told you about what loaded carries are, I should explain why they fell out of favour. Arnold is to blame! OK, that’s a bit harsh, so I should explain a brief history of the development of fitness training using weights.

In the early 20th century weight training was primarily the preserve of strong men. There was the legendary Eugen Sandow, in whose image the Mr Olympia statue is fashioned, and the great wrestler Georg Hackenschmidt. These men were as strong as they looked. Their ideal was healthy living and a functional body.

Unfortunately, with the introduction of physique contests, form became more important than function. By the time the 70s came along and the movie Pumping Iron, starring Arnold, popularised weight training. But what was popularised was pumping iron for the sake of cosmetic reasons. Alongside this came the advent of machines like Nautilus machines.

This allowed the current state of affairs, where people can go to the gym, strap themselves into machine after machine and do a workout. They can improve their body shape and look great. However, this doesn’t necessarily improve athletic performance.

I can’t really knock people doing this. After all, at least people doing this are actually exercising, so hats off to them.

However, for athletic performance, the body works as a whole, not discrete units. Sets of biceps curls aren’t improving your ability to compete in any sport or even just be able to do things in daily life like do it yourself projects around the house.

What really works for functional strength is squats, deadlifts, bench presses, power cleans, kettlebell swings; things like that. Things that are actually *HARD*. Things that don’t feel pleasant to do.

In this category is the loaded carry. Highly respected American strength coach has said this about loaded carriers “The loaded carry does more to expand athletic qualities than any other single thing I’ve attempted in my career as a coach and an athlete”.

When I hear this type of thing coming from such a source, I take notice. I’m all about improving my ability to do stuff. Obviously I have more limitations due to my age than a 25 year old athlete, but that is a side issue. Do want to slip into dotage on the porch in a rocking chair, or do you want to keep on finding new ways to be the best you can be? I know what I want.



About The Author


A guy obsessed with stripping down whatever field he studies to get the optimum return from effort expended. Sort of like Tim Ferriss, except with zero fame.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.