Stay Strong and Carry On.

“It’s not knitting class.”

No, it’s not knitting class and to put it bluntly, we do a crap load of carries here at Fivex3. We walk with dumbbells. We carry kettlebells. We pick up sandbags. The other night, one of my guys picked up one of our benches and carried it around a bit. Basically, if it’s heavy, you will pick it up and you will carry it.

So why carries? First off, heavy carries are a GREAT way to get some good conditioning in with your clients without them realizing they are actually doing “cardio.” One of our favorite carries at Fivex3 Training is a single kettlebell carry. Grab a heavy kettlebell, one potentially that will tax your spirit.

The kettlebell carry.

Hold it by the horns about 1/2 and inch in front of your chest like you are about to do a goblet squat but instead of squatting, take a walk around the room for 30-45 seconds without putting it down. And you want to move quickly. This ain’t a trip to the store for some milk. If you aren’t huffin’ and puffin’ after that round, then it wasn’t heavy enough so you will need to go pick up another one.We use this carry quite a bit and most recently, I decided to simply put 4:00 minutes on the clock and make them carry their hearts out. I called out 30 second intervals so people could check in with how they were doing, whether they needed a break or could keep pushing.  If you are curious about how people feel after a 45 second round, just ask my client Steve what it’s like to carry the 36kg bell around the gym for time. Actually, don’t ask him right away because he is probably too busy trying to catch his breath. I dare anyone tell me that lifting heavy things and carrying them for distance or time ISN’T cardio.

Frame carries. Go Linda!!

Second, they are an incredible way to work your “core.” (Honestly, I cannot stand this word but it is what it is so I’ll keep it.) Carries are all about core stability people. Think about it. What happens when you hold two heavy objects in your hands? Or when you pick up something heavy and hug it to your chest? Your body reacts to the weight, senses how heavy it is and finds a way to brace it so it doesn’t hurt itself. Pretty remarkable. A really heavy carry makes you truly aware of what your trunk should be doing. Your glutes get fired up. Your spine locks in place. You brace your trunk in order to carry all of that weight.  Carries help teach your body how to get tight and stay tight while moving heavy weight around. Sorry, but crunches won’t do a damn thing for you the next time you are late for your flight to Bermuda. Add some heavy carries into your training and the next time you forgot your flight was leaving at 5pm, NOT 6, instead of limping towards the gate, dragging your heavy suitcase, you will SPRINT to the gate with your suitcase in hand as if you were Superman, which, of course, you are now because you have been doing those heavy carries in class. In fact, one of my clients recently had to do just that at the airport and when he was in class the next time, he thanked me for all of those damn suitcase carries we did in class week in and week out. You’re welcome, I told him. Now go pick up that sandbag.

Hard at work!

And third, ANYONE can do them. From your 6 year old to your 65 year old. With carries, you can have your beginner trainee working just as hard as your most advanced client….and in the same class.  For a beginner, simply holding a 16 kg bell (35 lbs) may be really heavy for him/her and will cause enough of  a stimulus that he/she is really sweating bullets. For your more advanced trainee, you can have them carry two heavy kettlebells in the rack position or maybe carry the weight for a longer period of time. Remember that “heavy” is relative to the trainee. Have weight to match everyone’s needs. Everyone will be able to carry something and these types of carries make each and every client you train feel like they have really accomplished something, which of course, they have. 😉 And man does it beat walking on that damn treadmill.

Below are just a few of the different carries we like to use at Fivex3 Training. We typically do this work at the end of a class as a “finisher,” 3-4 minutes of good solid conditioning. With the sandbags, we may drag it first and then pick it up and carry it, combining a drag and carry which makes it even more challenging. 3-4 minutes is all you really need after a full session of work too. For your conditioning, remember to keep it hard, keep it brief and keep it movin’!


Farmer’s Walks – Kettlebells or Dumbbells

Grab two heavy dumbbells or kettlebells. Keep your back tight and your glutes engaged and take a walk around the room. Remember to move quickly and keep your chest up. Great grip work too. Most of the time, it’s not the weight but the grip that makes my clients give up!


Suitcase Carries

Grab one heavy kettlebell or dumbbell and carry it around the room. Keep your chest up and your back tight and don’t let the weight pull you too far to the side. Switch hands once you have carried for the desired distance or time.


Kettlbell carries – Single carry or Double in the rack

Pick up one single kettlebell or dumbbell and hold it about 1/2 inch in front of your chest. If using a kettlebell, hold it by the horns. If using a dumbbell, cup your hands underneath the head of the dumbbell. If you want to make it heavier, grab two kettlebells and hold them in the rack position (see video.) Keep your chest up, your glutes tight and keep your hips underneath you. When the weight gets heavy, the tendency is to let the hips move forward and arch your lower back. We don’t want this as it puts too much stress on that lower back. Watch your position!


Sandbag carries – Bear hug/Shoulder carry

Squat down and get your arms underneath the sandbag and bear hug it to your chest. Or if it’s compact, you can grab it by the handles and clean it to your chest. Just get it up there and move along.

Waiter carries – We don’t do a lot of these carries (requires a lot of shoulder stabilization), but they are a great addition to your training.

Press a dumbbell or kettlebell overhead and lock that shoulder in place and take a walk with the weight. You can also press two weights overhead as well. Keep those glutes tight, chest up and ribs down.


Frame carries – Trap bar work

If you have a trap bar, awesome. Use it. Throw some weight on it, pick it up and walk around the room with it. Awesome carry for grip work too.


1 thought on “Stay Strong and Carry On.”

  1. Pingback: Derby City CrossFit | Louisville | Workout of the Day – Friday 3/15/13

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