T Nation

Loaded Carries


Hey CT,

First of all I just want to say thank you. It's refreshing to learn from someone who is obviously very knowledgable, yet very humble. I have been doing a version your layering system for months now and have set PR's on almost every lift. I just added loaded carries (1min on, 1min off for 5min) and had a couple of questions:

1) I know the weight will vary from person to person and depend on the type of carry performed, but how do you determine what is a good weight with which to start? What I have been doing is picking a weight (more on the conservative side) and adjusting from there.

2) Is it ok to use straps for DB/Trapbar carries if my focus is on load and not grip strength?

3) Assuimg the use of straps is ok what would be the best way to alternate between LC with straps and LC without straps: 1 day straps, 1 day without or 2 weeks with straps 2 weeks without?

I workout 6 days a week: day 1 SGHP from block, day 2 front squats, day 3 SDBP, day 4 SGHP from hang, day 5 SIBP, day 6 technique work or NC workout.

Thoughts/advice from anyone on their experiences are also welcome. Thanks for your time


Hi :slightly_smiling:

well done on the progress!

i only utilize 2 types of carries; Overhead Walks after Muscle Snatch, Squeeze Press carries after Bench.

the Overhead Walks are taking my shoulder width into new realms. they are incredible! i currently ramp up to my 3rm (Muscle Snatch) and use roughly 70% of my ramp for OH Walks. everyone will be different but that might be a good starting point!

i did a few sessions of TBDL's with TB Carries to follow.. again ramped to my 3rm, used about 80% of ramp (no straps) and got a good workout from them.

as for squeeze press carries (i can't get comfortable with bear hug carries) i'm actually using a 25lb plate, and its pretty hard!

i think you just need to make an educated guess, and work from there... you'll never get it right, without getting it wrong a few times! -just don't hurt yourself haha.

regarding straps, i try not to use them until i really need to! -but i want to improve my forearms. if you REALLY don't need/want to improve your forearm grip/aesthetics then sure, use grips.


1) That's what I did. CT's recommendation was to use the weight that's almost impossible to hold by the end. So I guess pushing until that point is the best way to find the right weight.

2) I think that was asked in another thread and the bottom line is "just carry heavy stuff" :wink:

3) Another option for using straps would be to do the first few sets without them, and then put them on when the grip starts giving out. Did that yesterday on farmer's walks, worked very well. I'll probably end up doing 2-3 sets without then bumping up the weight and putting straps on for 2-3 more sets. BUT I do want to slowly improve my grip strength, since it's a weak point. If it was not a concern at all I'd probably put straps on for all sets.

@lboro: Roughly how much weight do you use for overhead walks? I started really light to "learn" to keep my back tight. My first set last week was literally just a stick! The rest of the session plus the entire next session were done with a short bar (probably 10kg?) and tomorrow I'm going to do a couple of sets with the short bar and a couple with an empty regular bar. All done with a snatch grip.


@Iboro: Congrats on your progress as well! I haven't tried the overhead carries yet, but will definitely give them a try. Unfortuntately my gym is small, so I might have to use DB's....unless I take a bar outside :). I have done the DB farmer walks and squeeze carry using a KB, the pump and burn I get from the carries are insane. Thanks for your suggestions.

@BIP: How many sets of loaded carries are you doing? How are you liking the carries so far? I like what you said about the first few sets with straps and then a few sets without. Thanks for your insight


Was there an article or post where CT first talked about loaded carries? I have searched but, all I can find are posts of people asking how to put them into their program.



i use about 45-50kg depending on how fatigued i am/how much i've eaten in the day, as these really take a toll!. i'm not a technique-freak so i don't really focus on a tight back, i just focus on keeping my delts fully contracted (arms in line with/behind the ears), since deltoid growth is my sole aim for OH Carries -deltoids looking fuller/wider already after a couple weeks!

since i couldnt use bear hug carries, i actually just held the barbell in a lock out position (bench press) wiht about 90% of my ramp and did butterfly kicks as rapid as i could to emulate the metabolic affect. its taking its toll on my shoulders though so i've switched to squeeze press carries or 'prayer carries' as i now call them. even holding to 10lb plates together works amazingly!


i know someone in the same position as you, and for some reason his gym won't let him do overhead carries for 'health and safety reasons'. he actually just does farmers walks, but holds the dumbbells sideways - palms forward - to stimulate the delts as you need to basically do partial lateral raises to stop the DB's hitting your legs. you can't lift as much weight, but he enjoys it for delt/trap stimulation.


CT's latest info on carries is to do 3 sets of 1 minute, with 1 minute rest in between (5min total).

carries are to specific to your main lift that day...

Olympic Lift/OH Press/ SGHP > OH Walks
Bench Press Variations > Bear Hug Carries
Squat variation > Yoke Walk
Deadlift variation > Farmers Walk / Trap Bar Carries

you should do them at the end of the workout as they are very fatiguing


@teebone - I've done carries on and off over the years. Mostly farmers walk style. I recenty added in overhead carries and I've been doing them once or twice per week as part of a short conditioning day. It looks like this usually:

A) Prowler sprints: 8 - 10 x 30 yard sprints with 45 seconds rest between sprints

B) Overhead carries: 90 yards (takes about 60 seconds as I have a 30 yard track and have to turn around twice with the weight still overhead) x 3 sets - used 95 lbs the first day, then tried one at 165 which was tough as hell and there is no way I'd get 3 carries done at that weight right now, dropped back to 135 which is my current work weight

C) Bear hug carries x 3 sets - not sold on these yet - I've done them holding 2 x 45 lb plates and using a heavy bag - not my favorite variation

D) Farmer's walks: 90 yards x 3 carries - sometimes with 70 lb KB's, sometimes heavier with farmer's walk implements

  • 60 second rest between all of the carries

Very quick and effective session.


3 to 5 sets of 1 minute


@daveg: after what you and others have said I am going to incorporate the overhead carries. Also, I tried the bear hug carries today after some biceps work using a 45&25lb plate with the emphasis on keeping the biceps tensed, and agree with you....the jury is still out. I think I would like the sandbag verison better . Thanks for your imput.


hey dave,
hope all is well.
re bearhug carries. ive used plates.. wrapping my arms around them. they are good.
using a dumbell was better. more pec squeeze.. elbows out at 90degrees from torso
kettle ball... was the best. maybe cause the hands were the closest together


I like the bear hug carries with a home-made sandbag of 50kg (made up of 15kgx2 & 10kgx2 smaller bags). I only weigh 70kg and am a shorty at 5'7", so this is very challenging to hold onto with a short wingspan.

One thing I've noticed is that as the breathing is so hard due to the bag crushing the chest and diaphragm, the breathing technique becomes important; faster & shorter breathes. This breathing and crushing seems to really hit the core musculature in a way no other exercise has done before. I think one factor is the fact that the chest is constantly under load resisting the crushing and then when your breath in it has to literally push the bag away to expand. I'd say this is probably the best form of loaded carries a MMA, Judo & Jiu jitsu etc fighter could do.


Question for those doing carries: how much % of your deadlift 1RM do you use with farmer carries (or %1RM of push-press on OH carries, or %1RM of squat on yoke carries)?


Maybe read today's article :wink:


@All: I had to be somewhere and was running out of time so I did the Yoke Carry with chains on the bar as well as it was available at the time so I could get my carries in......I don't know if anyone has tried this but it was awesome

The chains were long enough to drag the ground


I actually used that variation as well as hanging a kettlebell on each side with a jumpstretch band with a fireman. Both are very effective to work the stabilizing function of the muscles as well as core strength.


@CT: I'm going to try the kettle bell idea.....awesome! I've noticed quite a difference since starting loading carries on all my lifts & body comp. Great staple!