- Load a Trap Bar with a moderate load. Make sure to use standardized bumper plates. No lifting straps should be used during these.
- Step inside the bar and setup as if you are going to perform a deadlift. Drop your hips until you can comfortably grab onto the handles of the bar. Once in this position, adjust your ankle, knee and hip joint angles in order to find the best leverage for the initial deadlift. This should not be low back intensive, so make sure to use your quads and glutes.
- Lift the bar off the ground and stand up tall. Hips should be neutral with glutes and abs tight.
- Begin the forward movement with small, choppy steps. Try not to allow the load to shift from hip to hip and instead remain balanced during the walk. Your torso should remain relatively still the entire time.
- Once you reach the end of the prescribed distance, decelerate slowly to prevent the load from swinging. Once fully stopped, control the load back to the ground by performing the eccentric portion of the deadlift.
- Low Back Pain
- Feet/Ankle Pain
- Poor Coordination/Proprioception
- Poor Grip Strength
- Weak Abs
- Weak Glutes
- Trap Bar Static Holds
- Trap Bar March-In-Place
- Suitcase Carry
- Suitcase Holds
- Farmer's Carry (DBs, KBs or with Farmer's Handles)
- Incline Farmer's Carry
- Band-Suspended Trap Bar Farmer's Carry
We aren't going to be following typical volume parameters here. If the goal is more for overload, I would recommend to keep total weekly sets between 3-5 and distance 20-30 meters. If the goal is more endurance focused, 2-5 sets at 50-100 meters should be the sweet spot.
Applicable Intensity Techniques:
- Timed Sets (substituting distance traveled for time)
- HIIT work (performing the carries as intervals is a viable option here)
- Change of direction (rather than just walking forward in a straight line, experiment with going backwards or even laterally)
- Oscillation (creating additional instability through the intelligent use of band-suspended loads or a specialty bar that is designed for controlled oscillations)
For the strength athlete or anyone more focused on performance, Trap Bar Farmer's Carries (or some other kind of carry) can, and probably should, be programmed almost year-round for the general stability, coordination and strength benefits. Depending on what phase of the year or training cycle, load, intensity and volume can all be carefully titrated in order to shift the focus along the spectrum of overloading to endurance.
But for the physique athlete or those that have more aesthetic goals, the path is not nearly as clear.
There are well-defined hierarchies when it comes to hypertrophy training, and anything that does not take a muscle through a full ROM, create mechanical/metabolic stress, and have a favorable stimulus-to-fatigue ratio is generally shunned. Most of the time, I do actually follow this logic and agree with the stipulations. But what do we do with the thousands of exercises that fall outside these standards?
The easy answer is to write them off and not worry about them. The better answer is to think about how these movements can potentially grow muscle indirectly. The best answer is to understand how unconventional patterns and variations can propagate qualities that are often neglected in order to create a stronger hypertrophic environment in the future.
It is clear that many exercises will have a stronger growth response than Trap Bar Farmer's Carries. If you want to grow your traps, shrugs are better. If you want to grow your erectors, hyperextensions are better. If you want to grow your calves, standing calf raises are better. If you want to grow your forearms, wrist curls are better.
But carries offer something that none of these isolation exercises can: the ability to improve output on every other movement.
This is accomplished in a variety of ways, but the most important to understand is how the abs, glutes and low back (the "core" if you will) are able to increase force absorption. Because the environment for the carries is dynamic, these crucial, foundational muscle complexes are forced to interact and coordinate in order to keep the spine and pelvis safe. By training these qualities, we can see cross-over effects when we're performing more traditional lifts focused on hypertrophy such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses.
While we haven't directly caused muscle growth by implementing carries, we have improved the ability to express strength and retain stability when training with heavy loads and close to failure on all other movements. These are the second-order benefits that matter over the long run.
Primary Use Case:
- Improve systemic stability
- Increase abdominal and lower back strength
- Improve grip strength