Loaded carries are the most functional training you can do. They also happen to strengthen your core and grip (making you better at other lifts), and they get you yoked like nothing else.
If you’re not doing weighted carries, you should be. But remember, there’s much more to strength than just barbells and dumbbells. Here are five of the most functional ways to load up and walk.
1. Front-Loaded Carry
It’s most commonly done with heavy sandbags or stones, but any kind of carry that requires bear-hugging a heavy object constitutes a front-loaded carry. It’s a “high value for time” exercise, and you’ll feel it after the first workout. It challenges every muscle in your posterior chain while improving both functional strength and work capacity.
2. Farmer’s Carry
This one makes your entire body strong, but especially your traps, forearms, and grip. Any heavy object you can carry in each hands works well. Trap bar carries are another great alternative. For functional strength, train with heavy loads for distance.
3. Suitcase Carry
It’s one of the best ways to improve core strength and teach your body how to resist lateral flexion. Suitcase carries improve your body’s ability to stabilize unilaterally and strengthen your transverse abdominis and obliques. Even though you’re using half the load, it’s arguably more challenging than a farmer’s carry because of the unilateral demand and instability.
4. Front Rack Carry
While these can also be done with kettlebells or a yoke, a front rack carry with a heavy barbell works like a charm. This variation places a huge demand on both your mid/upper back and your abs. Anyone that’s ever done heavy high-rep front squats knows it’s not your leg strength that’s the limiting factor – it’s your midline strength.
5. Uneven Carry
This weighted carry really carries over to everyday life. Think of a parent holding a child with one arm and a bag of groceries in the other. Uneven carries are a simple way to build functional core-to-extremity strength. Hold the heavier weight at the hip and the lighter weight at the shoulder or overhead.