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4 Reasons Weighted Carries Build Full Body Strength

The Only Full Body Strength Training Method You’ll Ever Need

Written by
August 18, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018

Blasted by frozen air, every breath was cracked and painful but necessary to keep my muscles from collapse. I just needed water. Yet, I had none. Fatigue had set in so severely that I couldn’t remember that last two hours (I was I sleeping and walking at the same time). “Pay attention!” I tell myself inside the doldrums of my brain activity, which seems to only be able to think of the next step instead of the training scenario I am supposed to be actively a part of.

It is night again, and I have already trekked over 40 miles in 36 hours without sleep, and a 50-pound pack on my back with weapon. This training operation has become almost asinine because I am one of 8 left, when we started with over 40. The one thing that remains in my mind is that I won’t give up.

The never quit attitude will hold me unless I pass out, get hurt, or get pulled by my superior officers. The straps of my pack feel like they have burrowed two ditches through my traps, and the weight on my back bury my feet inside themselves with every step.

#1: The Ancients Were Accustomed to Weighted Carries

The thought of walking with 50-pounds or more on your back may not be that appealing until you understand some of the spectacular transformations you will receive by undertaking one of the most ancient forms of exercise.

When people needed to move from one place to another, they had to haul their personal be- longings with them, and there wasn’t always enough livestock to carry all of their property with them.

#2: Is Weighted Carries Training for Survival Situations Just Trendy?

Think about it, if you hit a tree with your car in the middle of nowhere without cell phone service, would you be able to carry your hurt passenger to the next town? Or let’s look at some scenarios that have actually happened: Hurricane Katrina, Japan Tsunami, Indonesian Tsunami, San Francisco Earthquake, Great New England Hurricane, Tri-state Tornado, plus many heat waves and cold spells.

Even societal collapse in history is telling us there is a distinct possibility of collapse, and collapses have already happened in countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. In all of these scenarios thousands and even millions of people needed to relocate without the use of cars, livestock, or air travel.

What does that mean for us? We must get familiar with some weight on our bodies for miles and miles at a time if we are to be prepared for an inevitable situation within our lifetime.

#3: Neuromuscular Benefits of Weighted Carries

One meeting with Dan John or John Brookfield, and you will quickly assess the importance of loaded carries and force accumulation over time. These gentle giants have done more endurance activities under heavy loads than most of us could dream up.

What has it given them in exchange? An intense, almost circus-like ability in the power and endurance arenas. I have seen John Brookfield bend a twenty foot steel bar into a small box, pull a 31,000-pound truck for a mile, and stay in the push-up position for hours at a time.

Dan John says the secret to heavy lifts is covering time or distance with heavy loads. They both give experiential reasons for doing this, and they have proven weighted carries worth time and again in their incredible feats of strength, as well as their athlete’s incredible feats of strength, which is why Perform Better uses their lectures and hands-on teaching repeatedly.

#4: Mental & Physical Endurance from Weighted Carries

Besides the neuromuscular advancement that occurs in the body when you hike weight over longer periods of time, you will also break through several mental and physical barriers as well. Most of the mental and physical benefit are driven by one small debilitating item: pain. If you face two athletes against each other in a game, it is usually the most athletic individual that will win (which is usually measured by explosive power under control or with agility).

However, if the game is long, rest is suddenly shortened, or the athletes have to compete again and again (which is what happens in real life), it is pain-tolerance, mental toughness, and heart that always wins out.

The heavy trek gives perspective in life and in the gym. If you have pulled a chain for a half-mile, a couple of really heavy deadlifts don’t seem so scary. When you carry an 80-pound pack for 40 miles, the thought of carrying your hurting child down five flights of stairs and around the block to an emergency room wouldn’t even faze you.

Besides building foot, ankle, and core strength, it brings a whole new meaning to work capacity, task management, technical efficiency, lactic threshold, mental toughness, and the never-quit attitude needed to succeed in sports and life.

Weighted Carries & The Rest of the Story

Aaron Guyett performs Weightred Carries for Full Body Strength

As the sun came up over Camp Pendleton, I knew I had a chance to finish this grueling test of mind, body, and spirit. I was able to fuel up with water and briskly make it to the very end of the event. When it was done, I was very relieved, but more than relief, I felt stronger, more focused, tougher, and more courageous than when I started.

The benefits of pushing yourself to the end of your psychological and physical rope is that there is an increased confidence that cannot be achieved with hour-long workouts, no matter how intense they are. I became the best Marine in my particular unit, and was able to lead Marines through combat situations confidently because of many scenarios like this one that I experienced as a young Marine.

I encourage you to pick up some heavy weight and begin to see the bottomless reward that you will receive from Weighted Carries

Weighted Carries Workout #1: Ruck Progression:

The Ultimate goal would be to do an 80lb ruck for 40 miles.

 Week Mon/Tues Wed/Thur Fri/Sat
1 40lb pack, 3 miles 40lb pack, 5 miles 30lb pack, 6 miles
 2 50lb pack, 2 miles 30lb pack, 3 miles 40lb pack, 7 miles
 3 40lb pack, 4 miles 30lb pack, 5 miles 50lb pack, 8 miles
4 60lb pack, 2 miles 40lb pack, 3 miles 60lb pack, 9 miles
5 50lb pack, 3 miles 30lb pack, 7 miles 70lb pack, 10 miles
6 60lb pack, 4 miles 40lb pack, 5 miles 80lb pack, 11 miles
7 50lb pack, 5 miles 60lb pack, 3 miles 80lb pack, 13 miles

Weighted Carries Workout #2: Weighted Carries Simple Progression

The goal would be to do each of these for a minimum of a mile.

 Week Chain Drag
(80-120lb chain strapped
around waist or shoulders)
Farmers Carry
(75-150lbs in each hand)
Heavy Bag Carry
(50-120lb bag front carry)
1 100 yards
(forward,backward, right, left)
100 yards forward only 50 yard carry
2 200 yards each way 100 yards forward/backward 75 yard carry
3 300 yards each way 125 yards forward/backward 100 yard carry
4 400 yards each way 150 yards forward/backward 125 yard carry
5 500 yards each way 175 yards forward/backward 150 yard carry
6 600 yards each way 200 yards forward/backward 175 yard carry
7 700 yards each way 225 yards forward/backward 200 yard carry
8 800 yards each way 250 yards forward/backward 225 yard carry

Weighted Carries Workout #3: Weighted Carries Complexes

The goal would be to do each of these for a half mile.

 Week Chain Drag with
Farmers Carry
Ruck and
Heavy Bag Carry
Backwards Ruck and
Chain Drag with Hands
1 Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
2 Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
3 Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
Maximum distance, rest, and
then come back
Aaron Guyett, a Marine Corps Sergeant and Innovative-Results Gym owner, specializes in Warrior Training. With his warrior heart and mind, he delivers tactful, strategic, and uncompromising results to our nation’s finest military, federal, state, and local agents, preparing each warrior physically, mentally, and spiritually for their highly specialized and arduous missions and tasks.
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