Carry Me! A Guide to Weighted Carries

Ten grocery bags are in your trunk and you are determined to get them all in the house in one trip. One heavy suitcase is in your hand and you have ten minutes to make it across the airport to make your flight. You’re a waiter/waitress working a double and someone just ordered 5 pitchers of beer to watch the Spartans beat the Wolverines. These are all real life situations that explain why incorporating carry exercises can be beneficial in your work out plan. Over the last month a fellow trainer, John Catalin, and I have been experimenting with different kinds of carries trying to find different ways to get the most from each form of carry. Although there are many different ways to carry a bell whether it is kettle or dumbbell I am going to highlight three of my favorite kettlebell carries and break them down to give you the most out of every step.

First and my personal favorite is the farmer’s carry. This exercise is where you have one bell in each arm

Farmer's Carry
Farmer’s Carry

and you walk a certain distance. Sounds pretty simple right? Here is the kicker. You want to be moving weight! I’m not talking about a milk jug in each hand I am talking about four bags full of Costco dog food in each hand. The trick is proper form and if done correctly that upper back should be toasted. First slow your roll, as soon as you put heavy weight in some ones hand their first instinct is to become an Olympic speed walker until they reach their destination. Don’t worry the kettlebells don’t have an expiration date. Second is to focus on your posture. Try to engage your lats keeping the bells off your side while drawing your shoulders back and chest up. Look forward and try to keep the neck and spine in line. If done correctly you should have achieved a toasty upper back and very tired forearms. One benefit that is often looked over in this exercise is the strengthening of the trunk. While you walk you are changing your center of gravity and when a load is added the body’s ability to compensate for the load and keep proper posture strengthens the trunk with each controlled step.

Goblet Hold
Goblet Hold

Another carry that can be done is a Goblet hold carry. This is typically done with one kettle bell held to the chest by the handles. Using the same concept as the farmers carry it is a simple exercise to do and as long as it is done correctly it can be very effective. Keep the shoulders back, and avoid leaning back and squeeze the chest and go for a stroll down toasty avenue. One of the important parts of this exercise to remember is to engage the core. If you start to slouch and have bad posture the exercise loses most of its effectiveness. Engage your core, keep a nice tall posture and the walk will take care of the rest.

The final carrying exercise is the waiters carry. There are two different variations of the waiter’s carry that can be performed and that is either with one arm or with two. When done properly the arm should remain locked out by the ear and your core should remain tight. Any overhead movement is especially taxing so make sure to regulate your breathing and walk slowly. A variation of the one arm waiter’s carry is to hold one bell over head while holding another bell of equal weight to your side. This makes it especially hard to keep that core engaged and to walk controlled while avoiding hyperextension through the lower back. Although this exercise is low impact on the shoulders it still required a great deal of stabilization so make sure you choose your weights accordingly.

one arm

Whether you choose to do farmer, goblet, or waiter carry all of these varieties are an essential part of day to day life. The great thing about these exercises is that they are easy to add to any circuit exercise routine. Mix it in with a number of different exercises and let the carries do the rest.

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