MTB Strength Training - Loaded Carries

Nov 1, 2013 at 13:21
by James Wilson  
Whenever I mention using Loaded Carries to a rider when they ask about the best mountain bike core training exercise I usually get one of two responses. The first is a blank stare – loaded what?

The second response is a glimmer of recognition, followed by “you mean like carrying heavy things like you see the dudes on the World’s Strongest Man Competitions doing”?

Yes, loaded carries are essentially carrying something heavy. And yes, you do see a lot of Loaded Carries in the World’s Strongest Man Competition, most notably the Farmers Walk.

Loaded Carries are great for building grip strength, improving posture and building “mobile” core strength. While most core training exercises have you move in one place, Loaded Carries have you moving around which places different demands on the core.

While there are a lot of different ways to use this concept in your training, in this video I show you some basic ways you can start incorporating Loaded Carries into your routine. Check it out to get some ideas for your next workout.
Views: 11,805    Faves: 43    Comments: 3

So grab some heavy dumbbells or kettlebells next time you train and try out some Loaded Carries. You’ll find them to do more for your posture and core strength than just about any other core training exercise you can do.

-James Wilson-

MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

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  • 53 0
 These segments along with Tech Tuesdays (which seem to have gone MIA) have been the most useful parts of this site for me.
  • 29 0
 Couldn't agree more. If there is anything that Tech Tuesday has not explained, bring it back!
  • 22 0
 I second (third?) that motion, bring back Tech Tuesdays!
  • 23 0
 I quadruple the motion! WE WANT OUR TECH TUESDAYS!
  • 3 2
 What do you want from Tech Tuesdays? I swear their is a TT for almost everything.....
  • 6 0
 I reckon Pinkbike started getting annoyed with people moaning about whatever every time a TT was posted. Some people don't understand the internet can't force you to watch something you're not interested in...
  • 4 1
 This guys strength training advice is helpful, but I always question his riding advice. Always.
  • 5 0
 If there was a TT poll on Wednesdays, to vote what to do the following Tuesday, that would be legit.
  • 3 2
 Tech tuesday is pretty much a redundant idea IMO , pretty much any thing you need to know is one google/youtube hit away.
  • 2 0
 i always look forward to James training vids lots of valuable training tips passed on , thanx James
  • 1 0
 YES!! Please more of these!!
  • 17 0
 So carrying 5 gallon buckets of dirt while trailbuilding counts for something? Sweet!
  • 1 0
 100 pound rocks do the job real well too
  • 5 0
 Instead of this, I do static weighted lunges at the gym, using a 20k plate from the squat rack, held upright with my arms at 90 degrees and the plate held around 5 inches from my chest, or overhead with my arms almost, but not quite locked out.

the kettle bell farmers walk is a good exercise, but Ive seen far too many people straining and taking little baby steps and not breathing properly. the object of the exercise isnt to get from A-------------------B in the quickest time, but to increase your strength over a period of time. Doing static lunges means you can stay in one place, preferably in front of a mirror, and watch your posture and form as you perform each one. Plus it means you dont have to carry the weight back when you reach point B, important if youre at failure. the guys doing it on strongman arent worried about thier form, theyre racing against the clock, so dont do what they do.

The most important thing to remember is that neither the lunge or farmers walk are high resistance muscle building exercises, so dont grab the heaviest kettle/plate/dumbell you can lift and he-man your way across the gym floor. 20 reps at 10k will be of more benefit than 5 reps at 40k. the 2nd most important thing is to remember that this will take time. a lot of time. you won't notice results for a few weeks and its going to hurt, so prepare yourself for that. if its too heavy, use a smaller weight. nobody will laugh at you because you cant use a 20k plate or a 12kg kettlebell. you dont get extra points for pulling a hamstring.
  • 6 2
 I train my cardio by pedaling and I train my strength by hiking my bike up steep cliffs.
  • 5 0
 James are you NSCA CSCS? Just curious
  • 1 0
 Curious also. No listed qualifications or professional accreditation on the website that I could see which is odd
  • 1 0
 Ha love pinkbike-voice your opinion for someone else to tell you you're wrong. Workouts are tailored to different body types etc And I found deadlifts and pull ups more beneficial. Any plyrometric workout will work core and grip! just saying...
  • 3 2
 Really do you need to question James' credentials when he was the former S&C coach for a certain Mr A Gwin!

I really enjoy reading and watching his stuff, its an area that every man and his dog has an "opinion" but rarely is it backed by the understanding of riding mechanics and body mechanics that James has obviously studied and applied in his teachings...
  • 2 0
 Yes. I'm curious. I don't judge someone or their programs solely off there credentials, but I'm allowed to ask. Aside from that, you would really just blindly take someones word on something just because __________ was there client?
  • 1 0
 Yes, it is a fair question which doesn't seem to have ever been answered. My Nan once told Stevie Smith some new exercises to try so will you spend $100 a month to have her as your personal trainer? Smile And wouldn't you prefer to take advice from Gwin's 2011-12 S&C coach instead? Smile

You correctly identify that every man and his dog has an opinion and then make a jump to assume this guy understands "riding mechanics" and "body mechanics".... based on what? Getting some videos posted up on Pinkbike? I personally find the videos a good starting point to investigate certain things a bit further but lacking any real depth or "coaching". Several people have left comments here that contain a greater coaching element than just saying "carry heavy things, walk slowly and keep good "posture" " as was in the video.

James's business is selling training plans and personal coaching so questioning the background (academic or professional) that goes in to the product isn't at all unreasonable and helps separate the hocum from the genuine amongst other things...
  • 1 0
 --- good exercise to mix in with farmers walks is to take 2 kettlebells, roll up two towels and pass them through the handles, allowing both ends of the towles to be equal in length, then place them on either side of a bosu ball , hop on the bosu ball, lift the kettelbells using the towels and then do ankle rolls/ rotations- done properly, the bosu ball will rotate in a full circle, completing a set.
it builds up grip/forearm strength, helps core stability and best of all makes your ankles bombproof.
  • 3 0
 I've ordered some training programs from James and have had great results. I'd recommend them to anyone.
  • 8 5
 Also known as Farmer's Walk.
  • 6 0
 Gettin neg propped for stating facts. LOL
  • 1 0
 My trainer has me do the farmer's walk with two 50# sandbags. I love it. And with the sand bags, the weight shifts a little bit engaging the core more!
  • 2 1
 good piece of advice as always! I tend to do deadlifts and varying pull ups for core and grip strength but each to their own.
  • 1 0
 This works more core than each of the pull up variations can give. With this you're working all the small muscles in the abdomen and back that wouldn't be worked by dead lifts or pull ups.
  • 1 0
 I think I may do well enough by carting my 90kg (198lbs) lump of body riding uphills with no lockout on front/rear suspension.
  • 2 0
 I do this exercise each time I am walking on my way back from the supermarket with my beers....
  • 1 0
 Beer, kitty litter and 5 gallon buckets of dirt? You guys need to up your game. Farmers walks are GREAT for grip strength, core strength and overall body strenght.
  • 1 0
 I don't need to take extra time out of my day for this. I do this every weekend carrying 30 lb jugs of litter for my cat.
  • 2 0
 First rule in a gym put shoes.
  • 1 0
 You guys notice that a "plus" also is he's training in bare feet . We all know how much more beneficial that is !!
  • 1 0
 Great tip for simple core exercises. Love James' stuff. The dude is legit!
  • 1 0
 Isn't this going to give you a back injury?
  • 2 0
 Not if you have good posture and know when to stop before your form is compromised. Just be smart about it and it'll be safe.

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