All Things Loaded Carries - Setup, Cues, and Progressions

Loaded carries are an absolutely phenomenal tool that is severely underutilised by many people. They allow for an incredible amount of time-under-tension and help build a kind of mental toughness and grit that you won't find elsewhere. one of our favourite "initiations" at The Academy used to be a "400m farmers walk" finisher when we had access to a 400m track - the kids loved it and the strength it builds for the upper back and core was extraordinary. Today, we're going to cover the setup, cues, and progressions for loaded carries

Farmers Carry - The Youth Academy

Farmers carry. Suitcase carry. Offset carry. Overhead carry. Front Rack carry... there is an abundance of progress to be found by adding these phenomenal exercises to your weekly training. They build strength, size, and mental toughness from the use of their time under tension, and do wonders for helping the posterior chain fire and promoting proper posture through the upper back

Needless to say, if you're not performing loaded carries, you're missing out ;)

Loaded Carries Setup & Cues

  1. Farmers Carry: the weights are held by your sides, like a farmer carrying two buckets of water... the key is to ensure the chest always stays proud and the shoulders stay back & down/scaps in your back pockets... and think "fast feet"

  2. Suitcase Carry:  picture a business man carrying a suitcase, so in this variation, you'd only carry one dumbbell or kettlebell - meaning this places more stress on core stability to keep the torso upright... again, focus on keeping the shoulders back and down and that torso nice and upright - we don't want to look like the leaning tower of Pisa

  3. Front Rack Carry:  both DB's or KB's will be held in the front rack position, with the elbows tucked down and in for support, and the chest kept up to ensure the back doesn't round

  4. Overhead Carry: both DB's or KB's will be fully extended overhead - with the key being to keep the arms fully extended and keep the ears to biceps, as this promotes proper head position and shoulder integrity

  5. Offset Carry:  here one arm will always have a DB/KB by it's side and the other will either be overhead or in the front-rack position - the cues to the overhead/front rack positions are the same as outlined above

Loaded Carry Progressions & KPI's

Farmers Carry - The Youth Academy
  1. Farmers Walk - perfect form for 30m w/ 33% BW in each hand
  2. Suitcase Carry - perfect form for 30m w/ 33% BW in single hand
  3. Double KB Front Rack - perfect form for 30m w/ 33% BW in front rack
  4. Overhead carry - perfect form for 30m w/ 33% BW in single hand
  5. Off-Set Carry

Begin light with these, and know that to progress, you can move the same weight over the same distance faster, add more distance with the same weight in the same amount of time, or increase the load...

Get creative, have fun, and get strong!

Nick Maier