This is Not the Greatest Workout in the World…

This is a tribute...

To say that the last four weeks have been busy is a bit of an understatement. Mental Meat Heads in NYC, moving the Alabama Waldorf School, and then the Fund Sharing Meeting in Milwaukee, all in three subsequent weekends. I managed to get in my main workouts every week, but I was definitely off my schedule. For at least two of those four weeks I only got in two lifting days and a hike or two. Not the six movement days I've been used to.

This week was my first week back to original form.

I changed a few things during the week but stuck to my traditional format of Squats on Monday and Deadlifts on Wednesday.  I've gotten away from Bench Pressing lately, but I include plenty of Overhead Pressing and Push Ups. Fridays are traditionally Oly days, and for the past few weeks I've been working the explosivity of the Power Hang Snatch. But since I gave myself a nasty stone bruise testing the limits of minimalist shoes under my hefty frame on a trail run (the shoes did fine, me not so much), anything that involves too much flexion of my left foot is out.

Instead, I spent this Friday working accessory lifts to my main lifts; Breathing Pause Squats, Snatch Grip Rack Pulls, and Overhead Supports. But these are not the workouts I want to tell you about. These are but the lead up to what may have been the Greatest Workout in the World.

Back before my crazy schedule set in, I read an article in Breaking Muscle by a coach named Walter J. Dorey. He laid out a simple workout plan using Loaded Carries. Ever since I'd read about Loaded Carries from Chip Conrad and Dan John, they've been a part of my training, but never like this.

The workout was Loaded Carries. And that's it. Nothing else. Just carry after carry after carry. The simplicity called to me and I was determined to try it out. This past Saturday, all the circumstances were right. I had the weather. I had the time. I had the tools.

I'm in the middle of my own 10,000 Swings variation and so on top of whatever I did, I had to get in 250 swings. Here's how I set it up.

I set one 53# kettlebell at each end of our 50 yard parking lot. On the alley end, I set one 85# Fuel Can and a 70# sandbag. On the other end I set our slosh pipe, 10 feet of 6 inch PVC filed three-quarters of the way with water, somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds of highly mobile, unstable weight.

I started on the alley end. I swung the kettlebell 25 times. I carried the sandbag to the slosh pipe, the slosh pipe to the fuel can, and the fuel can to the sandbag. That was one round. I carried the sandbag on my shoulder, the slosh pipe Zercher style, and the Fuel Can like a suitcase. I completed 10 rounds to get in all of my swings.

The day was nothing short of perfect, partly cloudy, upper 70's. My playlist was one of those weeks when Spotify knew me so well, bringing cool tracks from weird places and mixing them in with some classic gems. The workout was simple: pick something up and carry it to the other end of the parking lot. My mind was free and the experience was nothing short of sublime.

By round two my forearms began to speak up after the Fuel Can carry. I never hurried. I took rest when I needed it, but tried to complete the carries in complete clusters. The swings felt powerful and added a perfect complement to the carries. Each of the loaded carries posed a different challenge, yet they all called on my abs and stabilizer muscles.

Ten rounds took just under an hour. Halfway through, I felt enormous. I felt strong and powerful, all of my muscles flushed with blood, everything working in harmony. At one point, I stopped to watch a helicopter fly by. I felt certain that if I wanted I could have just reached out and plucked it out of the sky. By round ten I was spent. Not exhausted but fully worked, and certainly back down to normal size.

If you've never felt this before, you're missing out. It's like the pump the bodybuilders seek, but much more sublime. It affects your entire frame as you've worked your whole body in concert, the way it was meant to be worked. I put my tools away in a state of bliss, ravenous for the lunch that awaited me at home and more than ready for the nap I had so surely earned.

To our perfect imperfection,


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  1. Love this workout. Very creative. Loaded carries wreck me every time I do them. They never get easy.

  2. Love it Dave!

    Glad my article spurred you on to try something new and thank you for the nod to my article. Much appreciated!

    Loaded carries of any sort are always a great way to get strong and train work-capacity.

    Keep crankin’ it!


  3. You’re welcome!

    That’s one thing I miss about living in NY. I miss the country and really miss splitting and stacking firewood. Not much call for that where I currently live in Arizona, lol.

    So I get my fix by pounding on tires with a sledgehammer.

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