T Nation

Training for the 'Cement Run'......


Hi, first time poster here, so apologies if i'm posting this in the wrong place. My wife and I are entering a local 'niche' charity event at the end of August, which is basically carrying a bag of cement (100lbs for men/50lbs for women) up a 1mile course of varying grade, mostly between 10 - 18%. The only rule is you can't put the bag down.

 Training wise, we both consistently train heavy compound stuff, and prowl/carry heavy 3 times a week. I appreciate this is a weird thing to specifically train for, but any advice would be golden. Thanks in advance!


If you can get a sandbag, then doing extended carries with it would be the best idea. If not, I think that a combination of weighted carries and prowler work should work just fine. carrying kettlebells in a racked position would be awesome for this.


Thanks for your input. That's what we're working on now, pretty much. Up until now, conditioning has been largely based around Jim Wendler's prowler challenge, the final test standard is now our baseline maintenance. We've now made one of the prowler sessions more endurance based as follows-

I carry a 100b sandbag while my wife pushes her 50b sandbag that sits on the "shelf" between the prowler uprights. At about the minute mark we swap round, and keep this going for 20 mins. The bag carrying is the comparatively easy bit!!

In a few weeks we intend to start working on the actual course hill, bag only, as the terrain is too rough and too steep for the prowler (luckily).
We used to do weekly hill sprints, but have dropped these as I feel there's not much carryover to the event.


I would do pretty much exactly what you're doing. If you can actually replicate the event by practicing on the actual course, that's perfect. I was gonna suggest carrying a sandbag on a treadmill at an incline, but obviously the work on the course will be superior. Good luck!


I really have no input other than that sounds like it's going to be awful. Good luck


You are going to need strength endurance in an isometric hold. If I were you id train with a heavier bag, at least 125lbs. Since you have a mile to walk and about 3 months to do it, why not try something like this (training every day) for goals:

(1 mile is 1609 meters according to google)

Month 1: 600 meters
Month 2: 1200 meters
Month 3: 1800 meters (I think setting the goal a little higher is a good hedge against something unexpectedly difficult)

Since you have 4 weeks to progress 600 meters per month (this is 1.5* a track length), you should try to obtain 150 meters a week and increase your walked distance by 21 meters a day.

So your first week might look like
D1: 21
D2: 42
D3: 63
D4: 84
D5: 105
D6: 126
D7: 147

And if you think about it, what is 21 meters? Like 60 feet, the height of a 3 story building? Sounds like a really cool challenge.

You're best bet is to shoulder the bag, and change it every 5 minutes just before you fatigue. Id say focus on upper body as that is going to be your limiting factor. Unless you are running I highly double you'll legs will fatigue significantly.


An alternative progression might be to start off by walking a mile, and add 10lbs per week of resistance to a bag, after 12 weeks you'll be carrying 120lbs a mile!

In your case, since you have a such a clear end goal, it will be beneficial for you to schedule your training for the next 3 months. I think these goals are completely feasible with some dedication.


Thanks for the clarity, Aero, that was much appreciated. The progressions you laid out make prefect sense. We've decided this sunday to have a crack at the course with 'race weight' bags to see where we are, and use that as a baseline. I'm thinking to programme overweight as opposed to over distance.

Weights wise, what do you think would be best? Currently we do a pretty strict 4 day Wendler 531 with assistance bits and bobs. Maybe now it would be wise to throttle back to a twice a week full body programme...


I cant comment on 5/3/1 programming with 100% confidence because I am far from an expert on it, but I do know a thing or two about carries. But I would do this:

Stick with 5/3/1 but only do the essential lifts, no reason to completely change anything, but don't expect to progress that much. So for the next 2-3 cycles expect minimal gains in 1 rep maxes, as this is not your goal until the end of August. It should take you like 20 minutes each day to do the squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bench press correct?

I think your primary "assistance" needs to be the progression I showed you above, but you need to gauge your carry strength. I can help you more with this:

Farmers walks/frame carries will gauge your overall carry strength, but will really tax the grip, traps and back. To a lesser extend you will work your walking coordination (what is the word for it) and posture.

Keg Carries are like a standing deadlift if you bear hug it (this is my preferred form). You will work your lower back, glutes and hamstrings most, followed by middle/upper back and chest.

The bag is similar to the keg, but it can be harder or easier depending on where and how you lift. The bag is much easier off the floor, but much harder to hold to the chest since it is "squishy" and you essentially have to squeeze harder to prevent it from falling. It is also easier to shoulder since it is flexible.

Overhead carries will work your core shoulders and arms. You'll be able to lift the least weight with this obviously but they are the hardest in terms of balance.

I have yet to do a Yoke walk so I cannot comment on those.

The first thing you need to figure out are your "maxes" for carries, which will tell you right off the bat where you stand. Try this:
For strength:
Take whatever implement you can and carry it a fixed distance for 50'. Increment your weight as appropriate until you cannot make the distance. For example, this weekend I did a keg carry (bear hug style) for 150, 200, and 260lbs before nearly chopping my fingers off when trying to get 310 haha.

For endurance:
Take a fixed weight and carry for maximum time. I think 125lbs/60lbs would be appropriate. You don't even need a track to do this, which is great if the weather sucks.

I recommend: shouldering the bag right away and switching shoulders every so often BEFORE you get too tired to maintain form. Then go to the bear hug form with fingers under the bag if both your shoulders are taxed.

Since you don't need to go super heavy, I think the following carrying priorities should be set up:
really light yoke or just a barbell with 35lb plates on it
Overhead Carry
Farmers carry

you are going to need:
back, core and, shoulder strength-endurance first
lower body endurance second

One mistake people make when carrying is they use their biceps too much. They'll fail fast, which is why it is best to go with the shouldering and bear hug forms.


Aero51, you are indeed a legend!! Looking at footage from previous year's races, competitors tend to carry the bags on top of their traps, ie centrally behind their necks, gripping the bag as best they can in a sort of a high racked position. The bag is tightly packed so it doesn't really sag or wrap around the shoulders as such (shame).

I know what you mean by trying to use biceps too much, as in kind of zercher style. I also found that bear hugging the bag hinders breathing and does indeed tax the posterior chain rapidly due to the weight being 'out front'.

Focussing on event specificity, therefore...
I'm thinking our staple conditioning of prowler and farmer's walks should be skewed in favour of actual bag handling/carrying.

For endurance, we'll use overweight bags on the course, looking to push the distance each time.

For max carries, incremental loading is more tricky. Farmer's walk handles would be the most convenient, but grip is likely to be the limiter here...

 Thanks again Aero!!


Haha thanks, but I am not a legend by any means. I suck as far as sticking to routines go, but have decent genetics to compensate for mediocre organizational skills. Its a problem I'm workin on.

I'll be honest, I don't think the prowler is going to help you other than building some leg strength-endurance. Like I said your upper body is going to get tired far faster than your lower body and you should use this information to adjust your training. It is important to get those 2 max metrics I told you about so you know exactly where you stand.


And if you want, buy an iron mind bag. Fill it with chains of fixed length that correspond to poundages. The bag I think runs round $100 and the chain might cost you $50. I recommend go in 20lb increments.


I've got some big old chains in work, as it happens. I'll take the bathroom scales into work today and see how they measure up. My workmates can't take the piss out of me any more than they already do......


How is your training going?