I’m a fan of farmer’s walks and loaded carries in general. They’re great for grip work, both beginners and advanced can do them, and they work as core training for athletes. But should every workout include a loaded carry? No. That’s where it becomes overrated.
Think of the loaded carry as a form of locomotion and not a foundational category of its own. Sure, every workout should include a locomotive movement, but not necessarily loaded carries. To better understand what I mean, here’s a list of movement patterns that guide my training:
- Jumping and Landing
- Throwing and Striking
- Knee Bend
- Hip Hinge
Locomotion is the ability to move from one place to another. It’s essential, but there’s more than one way to do it.
Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of locomotion exercises:
- Agility Ladder
- Stepping Over or Under Obstacles
Here’s an analogy. There are plow horses and there are thoroughbreds. Every thoroughbred can perform loaded carries because they require zero athleticism, but not every plow horse can do things like skip, shuffle, or carioca with efficiency and fluidity.
Not everybody is training to become a pack mule. Plus, no matter how many loaded carries you do in your workouts, carrying heavy and awkward stuff around in daily life – such as doing manual labor or helping a friend move furniture – always seems more challenging.
Now, if you’re trying to become of master of loaded carries, you’d certainly want to make them a regular part of your workouts. However, if you’re trying to build a more capable body, mix up your locomotion exercises so you’re not just adapted to one thing but more adaptable to various locomotion demands.
Coach Stephen Alexander Ellis makes a good point about this:
“The emphasis on ‘loaded carries’ for folks outside of specific populations is largely overrated and redundant. If you already deadlift, lunge, goblet squat, front squat, back squat, etc., you get enough of the purposed benefits of the loaded carry.”
Loaded carries are better considered under the broader umbrella category of locomotion. Some trainers might be underutilizing those other valuable locomotive exercises that provide fitness and coordination benefits to everyone, from athletes to seniors. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do multiple locomotive exercises in the same workout.
If you want to get some of the benefits from the loaded carry but don’t have the floor space to do it, try this variation using the NT Loop Band.