What you should be doing on the gym- Part five – Carries

The hard part is over. You made it to the gym and that’s usually half the battle.  Now that you’re there, what are you going to do?  This is where a lot of people get stuck but don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

This is part five of a six-part series that focuses on the exercises that give you the biggest bang for your buck in and outside the gym. If you’ve missed the previous parts, please click on the links below.

Part one- Squats

Part two – Pulls

Part three – Pushes

Part four – Hinge

Part five – Carries

Part six – Groundwork


Think about how many times per week you carry stuff around in your hands. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.  Twice, five, ten times?  Now doesn’t it make sense to train this ability in the gym to make your life easier?  I’d thought you’d see it my way.

see it my way


The farmers carry will:

Improve Posture. Trying to carry heavy weights with rounded shoulders is almost impossible.

Improve Breathing Pattern. It’s hard to be a chest breather when you’re carrying heavy weights around.

Improve Shoulder Stability. Your rotator cuffs will work like crazy to keep your arms in their sockets.

Improve balance. Every step of the farmer’s walk is a single leg stance.

They are quite possibility the biggest bang for your buck exercise, providing numerous benefits and are relatively simple to perform. Notice I said simple, not easy.

The carry variations listed below go from easy to more difficult. If you’ve never performed this movement before, please start at the beginning and progress slowly. Only move on when you feel comfortable and ready for the next challenge.

Note on loading and distance- For the dumbbell carries start with a load of 25% of your body weight in each hand and for the barbell (two-handed) carries start with 40-50% of your total bodyweight unless noted otherwise.

You should be able to carry the weight for 20-40 yards. If walking 40 yards is easy, the weight is too light and if you can’t walk a least 20 yards, the weight is too heavy.

1. Dumbbell farmers carry (easier)

Just think of this exercise has carrying the groceries in from the car except the groceries are really heavy. The  exercise cues that work best here are shoulders down and chest up, but if you want to think sexy, just walk like a supermodel.


 2. Suitcase carries

Although this variation is less weight, the offset load makes it more difficult to maintain upright posture because you’ll tend to tilt to one side to counter the weight you’re carrying. When starting this exercise, check your posture in the mirror to circumvent this.

Please make sure to do both sides or you’ll be walking around in circles the rest of the day. 😊

3. Goblet carries

Holding the weight under your chin and by your chest adds extra emphasis to your shoulders, biceps, upper back and anterior core muscles. Walking with an upright posture is essential because tilting forward could mean dropping the weight and making a mess.  And you don’t want that.

4. Rack carries

Dumbbell rack carry

Kettlebell rack carry

 These are similar exercises, it just depends on what equipment you have access too. This variation hammers your upper back region which is essential for good posture and for good technique for a lot of the exercises described in this series. But be warned, other gym goers may admire your rack.

 5. Overhead carry (difficult)

 Everything I’ve mentioned up to this point will build your overall strength and enhance your results.  However, the overhead barbell carry is the cherry on top in the world of carries. Every single step is a challenge for the whole body.  One false step and you, the barbell and the floor become one.

Be sure to start with an empty barbell and then experiment with a load that you can carry for 20 and 40 yards. And remember, a little fear in your training can be a motivating experience.

Wrapping up

This exercise does it all. It builds muscle and strength, enhances cardiovascular endurance and it will turn you into a person who no one wants to mess with, including Chuck Norris.

Just kidding. Chuck fears no one.

 Chuck is sleepy.


5 thoughts on “What you should be doing on the gym- Part five – Carries

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