If you are looking for a simple way to burn and lose belly fat, add muscle and boost strength then pick up the nearest heavy object and take a walk with these great exercises that have been around as long as humans have walked the earth. In the past, it was the most effective way of getting children, food and supplies from point A to point B.
Today, strength coaches in the industry swear it’s the best way to make tough, gritty athletes out of normal lifters. Dependent on how you do it, it can fit seamlessly in either a muscle-building or fat-loss program.
The best part is it requires next to no coaching and you can start in any gym right now. I am going to ask you to do two things to transform your physique. Pick something up and start walking. If you can do this, then you can accelerate your progress, meet the weighted carry.
Keep Calm And (Weighted) Carry On
The weighted carry is as simple as picking something up and walking but there are also ways to do it wrong. Follow these technique do’s to ensure you are safely and properly executing the exercise:
- With a straight back and tight core, deadlift the weight or weights from the floor to a standing position. Just because you are not doing deadlifts for reps does not mean you can slack on form.
- If holding weights at your sides, don’t let the weights sag into your fingertips, grip it properly. Think about trying to crush the weight with your hands.
- For each variation, be sure to keep your shoulders packed as you walk. Think about keeping a tall chest, slightly pinching your shoulder blades together and keeping your eyes forwards the whole time, many people are surprised by how much they feel it in their upper backs after doing carries.
- As you walk be sure to keep tension throughout your core by bracing. Think of the tension when you cough and recreate it during the carry. Take short and powerful breaths into your belly not your chest and keep tight.
Three Carry Variations You Can Try
What muscles do the weighted carries work?
Pretty much all of them. A properly executed weighted carry works your body head to toe but specifically the postural muscles of the upper back. Think traps, rhomboids and lats plus forearms, grip strength and your core.
Depending on the variety you choose and if you perform it bilaterally (two arms) or unilaterally (one arm) you’ll also hit some muscles preferentially. Do not make the mistake of thinking that unilateral variations are any easier, your obliques will tell you exactly why not.
You can pretty much use anything heavy to execute a weighted carry, dumbbells, kettlebells, trap bars, straight bars, sandbags, vests and even strange objects like kegs, rocks and cinder blocks. The possibilities are pretty much endless but here are my three favorites:
1) The Farmer’s Walk
This is the basic weighted carry but also my personal favorite. Use a pair of dumbbells, kettlebells or a trap bar and deadlift the weight from the ground and walk. Only walk as far as you can with proper form, shoulders back, eyes forward, crushing your grip and keeping your core tight.
Challenge yourself and go heavy. As a goal, work up to doing farmer’s walks with 50% of your body weight in each hand, it is ok to go even higher.
2) The Waiter’s Carry
Take a single dumbbell, plate or kettlebell, press or push it overhead and walk. Follow the same basic form tips during this specific variation and keep your shoulders square rather than leaning or tilting to compensate for the weight, once again, walk as far as you can with impeccable form.
Because the weight is only in one hand you will have to utilize your core to an even greater extent to stabilize the weight overhead and yourself as you move. Remember to switch sides to give the other arm equal attention. These are fantastic for improving your shoulder mobility and overhead position for presses as well.
3) The Bear-Hug Carry
This is best done with off objects like sandbags, punching bags, stones and even bags of salt. In a commercial gym, you could hold a barbell in the crooks of your arms, similar in fact to a Zercher squat or a pair of kettlebells in a front-racked position No matter what you choose, hug it tightly in front of you and walk as far as you can. The more awkward the weight, the tougher these get, in a good way. Don’t expect breathing to be too easy.
Try not to lean back to support the weight. Stand straight and tall and think about trying to touch the top of your head to the ceiling.
Your Workout And Weighted Carries
If you want to get stronger, pick up things and walk, if you are working on building muscle, pick up heavy things and walk until it burns. If you are looking to lose far, pick up heavy things and walk until you are fully done. Whatever your goals, weighted carries can help.
For muscle growth, the secret is using carries to increase time under tension. You may have heard that to maximally stimulate muscle growth, you need to include adequate amounts of muscle damage, metabolic stress and mechanical tension in your training. Weighted carries hone in on the latter two because carrying heavy objects generates a lot of tension and metabolite accumulation.
Carries For Building Muscle
You can add carries between sets because the goal is to maximize the time under tension, use a weight you can carry for at least 45-60 seconds. Aim for 4-5 minutes of total time under tension your first week. Each week, increase the weight, total time or both.
Adding caries into your muscle-building program is very simple, instead of picking up your phone between your sets, grab some weights instead. If your grip strength begins to fail, consider using a less grip-taxing version, such as the waiter’s carry or Zercher barbell carry.
For a full muscle-building bonus, hold your arms at a 20-degree angle away from your body. This will really torch the deltoids and core and further layer on the muscle. You will soon see the added benefit of boulder shoulders and a six-pack later on.
Carries For Burning Fat
If you are in the middle of a fat-loss phase look no further than weighted carries. To make the most of them, consider adding them as a conditioning session on your nonlifting days, do your usual warm-up, grab weights for carries, set a 20-minute timer pick up the weights and walk as much as you can before the time expires.
If you don’t have to set the weights down during the 20 minutes, stop using paperweights for the workout. You can do the same carry variation throughout the workout but you’ll probably be able to get more work done if you rotate between overhead, front hold and farmer carries.
In each case, select a weight you can carry for 20-30 seconds at a time. When your form starts to falter or your grip starts to go, put the weight down, recover and shake it out and then dive right back in, rest as much as you have to but only for what you need.
Carries For A Finisher
Add a belly fat burning finisher to the end of any style of workout by repeating the same formula but for 10 minutes rather than 20. Stand tall, hold your form solid and you won’t go far wrong, just keep calm and weighted carry on.