02 October 2011

Shit You've Probably Never Tried- The Trap Bar Carry

In the past, I've looked at the trap bar mostly as an annoyance in the gym.  Kids who use them are typically weak as shit, leave the bar wherever the fuck they want and rarely unload the two to four massive plates they load on it.  Additionally, the vast majority of trap bars can't hold enough weight to make their use worthwhile, so they've simply been a speedbump to my workouts because they're in the fucking way.  I have, however, fallen in love with precisely one exercise that can be done with a trap bar in a variety of ways, and it rules harder than than Vlad the Impaler in his forest of impaled bums- the Trap Bar Carry.
Jesus tittyfucking Christ.

Unlike the methodology espoused by Stuart McRobert, which encourages people to deadlift on the trap bar because they're great for people too weak to actually lift weights (like the super tactical toughguy pictured above), my thought process on the trap bar goes like this- if you're strong, you're likely too strong for most trap bars.  In spite of this fact, there's got to be some way to make the giant hunk of metal darkening the corner of your gym and providing spiders with an ideal breeding ground useful.  So, when bored and sick of doing the same basic shit day in and day out 8 to 12 times a week for the last few months, I loaded that fucker up and started walking around with it, and I discovered something- it was a hell of a lot of fun.

We're not talking orgy with midgets, porn stars, midget porn stars, and a circus freaks fun, but it was a damn sight more fun than doing whatever the hell it is most people do in the gym.

If only.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who's come to the conclusion that this is the only truly useful purpose for Stuart McRobert's masterbatory fantasy about a 400 lb deadlift.  Author Craig Weller recommends these as well, though I think he'd take issue with my form- he recommends doing these considerably lighter than I do (doesn't everyone?), and with extremely strict form.  It's just about the most primitive movement one could imagine, however, so primitive form works for me.  Bob Peoples in all of his round-backed glory would agree with me, I believe, so fuck Craig Weller.  Actually, Weller's article is pretty good- I stumbled across it while looking for Dan John's article on the same topic, and he's the only other person who seems to have written about the trap bar walk.  Unlike Weller, I actually loaded the thing with weights, but he's got some great ideas for other loaded carries if you're inclined to use small weights and wear Vibrams, such as:

This saddens me.

The Underwater Rock Carry- "Take your rock, carry it as far as you can into the water from the beach, and then sprint with it under water while your partner swims on the surface. Once you’re out of oxygen, come up to the surface and switch out with your partner. Alternate in this fashion until you reach a set distance, like a depth of water you no longer feel like diving to, and then return."

How else would you carry a yak carcass up a mountain?

Sherpa Skull Carry-"While backpacking in Nepal, I spent quite a bit of time with the Himalayan Sherpas, and they have an interesting means of carrying double (and sometimes more) their bodyweight up the mountain. Their packs are so heavy that they couldn’t use standard shoulder straps because the weight would pull them over backward. Instead, they run a strap from the bottom of their pack up that loops around the head, and allows them to carry the brunt of the weight using the skull and neck. This helps them to keep the weight centered well enough forward to balance and maintain a steady pace up the mountain."

Brutal as those suggestions are, they're about as practical as wearing a cotton candy condom at an all-anal gangbang in Swaziland.  Instead, I suggest doing one of the following, which are my favorite ways to do trap bar carries:

Beast Mode- Load the bar with an appreciable percentage of your one rep max on the deadlift.  I ended up working up to 600 and doing a number of these.  I'd venture to guess my 1rm on the trap bar deadlift is at or around 650-660, so 600 was about 90% of my 1RM.  Walk as far as you can with it, which is probably not going to be all that far.  Rest and repeat until you feel like you might shit out your guts- this was about 90 minutes for me, including all of my lighter, longer distance reps.

Rocky Mode- If you read my Rocky vs. Clubber Lang blog, you'll know I rarely train with a partner.  This exercise, however, is an exception.  Doing this exercise with a lighter weight than you would for beast mode and a partner lets you do a bit of metabolic conditioning, as you can do carries for distance and rest only the amount of time it takes for your partner to go the distance, as it were.  If you happen to have a partner not quite on the same superhuman level as yourself, it's no skin off your upper lip- just adapt and overcome.  The guy with whom I've done these in my gym can get across the gym, Beast mode style, with 315.  As such, I carry the bar in a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio in terms of gym lengths to his- I'll go down and back twice to his single trip.  This gives him an opportunity to recover and me the opportunity to get in a decent amount of time under tension.

"So why do them?", you might be asking yourself.  If "because they're awesome isn't compelling enough for you, perhaps this is: weighted carries like the trap bar deadlift carry can have a profound carryover effect to your deadlift, due in large part to the fact that the deadlift is a show movement that doesn't rely on a stretch reflex (unlike the squat).  According to Mike Tuscherer, isometrics are excellent for this sort of an exercise, and given the fact that the carry portion of this movement is, for all intents and purposes, an isometric, it should help your deadlift considerably.(Tuscherer 34)  The fact that it combines a variety of movements just adds icing to this awesome cake.

Weighted carries also have the benefit of increasing the amount of muscular tension over your entire body, the quality of which "determines how big and strong you can become", according to Charles Poliquin.  (Poliquin 47)  Lifting weights at 90% or more of your 1RM results in the maximum hypertrophy in Type IIb muscle fibers, as does slowing down the tempo of your repetitions, both of which occurs when you're doing an exercise along the lines of a weighted carry with extremely heavy weights.  (Poliquin 48-50)  According to Dan John, loaded carries will allow you to "build more muscle faster, drop fat quicker, and kick any ass on any field of play" and recommends doing them three times per week.

Seems to be working for me- this was last Saturday at 196 lbs.

In short, trap bar carries are awesome, and you should start working them into your workouts, stat.

Bondarchuk, Anatoliy.  Transfer of Training In Sports. Michigan:  Ultimate Athlete Concepts, 2007.

Tuscherer, Mike.  The Reactive Training Manual.

Weller, Craig.  Weighted Carries for Size and Strength.  http://www.wannabebig.com/training/weighted-carries-for-size-and-strength/


  1. I have only heard the name Stuart McRobert twice,
    and both were times were today.

    I'm assuming you read some of his stuff. whats your opinion? waste of time?

  2. Shit, dude, this is like farmers walk without the need for torpedoes. Always felt walking with dumbbells is bit risky, I don't use straps, so I always set the dumbbells down before my hands gets too tired. I walk by a trap bar in my gym all the time, why haven't I thought of this. Thanks Jamie, I gonna give this a try.

  3. My friend fucked Bridget the Midget.
    Cool story, br0.

  4. New York Barbell sells a pretty affordable (if you buy equipment, anyways) trap bar that can be loaded up to 1000 lbs.

    And additionally, this is a bit like the badass frame carries that strongmen always do, which is fucking awesome.

  5. True Rocky Mode would have your partner unleashing some haymakers on your kidneys while you do this.

  6. Andrew- his shit is simply godawful. For a bit of insight as to why, go here (http://chaosandpain.blogspot.com/2009/02/im-hardgaining-ectomorph-and-stuart.html) and here (http://chaosandpain.blogspot.com/2009/12/10-reasons-stuart-mcrobert-can-go-fuck.html).

    Adebisi- I am Jack's raging jealousy.

    Craig- This is true.

    Everyone else- I added a bit to the Rocky thing as I realize in my haste to give my wonderful anecdote I left out the basics of the fucking thing.

  7. Andrew- there's this one as well. Haven't read it in a while, and it's fucking awesome (in my humble opinion). http://chaosandpain.blogspot.com/2010/01/high-risk-high-yield.html

  8. I fucking love trap bar carries, they extend the life of any farmers walk because you don't have to worry so much about grip or the fucking dumbbells hitting your sides, so you can load up more weight and move faster and farther. Plus it's not totally useless I've used the trapbar to teach hopeless idiots how to squat and dead lift at the same time.

  9. Damn bro looking thick! Legs are sick. Never thought of doing these before, could definitely be more useful than DB walks I reckon, cheers for the suggestion.

  10. My DeadBar is much more advanced; http://sumoman.co/deadbar2/

  11. I use the shrug bar to deadlift and do shrugs since im not in the range where I cant fit anymore weight. I notice I can lift more for two reasons. First the position of the weight front to back is further back and so im lifting it strait up instead of leaning forward. Its less awkward. Also If you use the grips that are off center and placed higher you dont have to go as deap so you can lift more. I notice that my best lift with the lower grip height is about 50 lbs more than my best barbell deadlift. I know its ot the same but I find it more comfortable to lift this way and I alternate between the two bars. I only really use the higher grips when Im shugging. I will deffinately try the farmers walks next time im in the gym and there arent a bunch of retards walking around drinking thier workout drinks between sets.

  12. thanks for the info,

    i must admit i was 2 pages in to his brawn book (torrented) before i thought this seems too easy lets see what Jamie has to say.

    then que the post titled "10 Reasons Stuart McRobert Can Go Fuck Himself"


  13. What do you think of Elliott Hulse's stuff?

  14. opinions on doing waiter walks with a db?

  15. These will be great prep for my career as a rickshaw coolie!!! BTW thumbs up for the lord byronesque dinning set!

  16. @Jager- Never heard of him.

    @Manveet- Never tried it, but I don't anticipate I will. Going light's not really my thing.

    @WLC- Hahaha. That shit is definitely not mine- my place is a small step up from a yurt. I've been house/dog sitting for the partners at my job for the last month.

  17. Looks like I've found the next step in neck-training.

  18. Very nice. Going to give this one a try. Have my own trap bar at home that I had made up, because the retarded gyms here in Australia haven't even heard of them, nor will they let me bring it inside to to use fearing it to be a tool of Satan or something. Fuckers.

    Can't believe the thickness in your legs. Your results speak for themselves as to effectiveness of your training. Thick, dense, old-school muscle.

    Your taste in chicks though is atrocious mate. :) Hahaha. (Each to his own I suppose.)

  19. http://brianoldfield.com/wordpress/

    Brian Oldfield's blog.

  20. What movements have been your favorites lately CnP?

  21. I've been doing a tremendous amount of overhead pressing of late- military, strict press, behind the neck push press, and squat to press, and a hell of a lot of squatting in all of its myriad forms. Other than that, I've been shrugging. The vast majority of my workouts just consist of some sort of overhead press and a squatting.