Crossfit Grunt Work: Embrace the Suck with Weighted Carries

Sometimes in the CrossFit world, we often forget the ‘constantly varied’ aspect. Athletes get caught up in the more glamorous exercises, such as the Snatch or Muscle-Up. We want to practice the moves that make good videos to post on social media.

Everyone wants to be ‘instafamous.’ I have nothing against these movements, and they are vital within Crossfit, but there are some less than glamorous exercises that also yield many benefits, and should be used much, much more.


Grunt work refers to the moves that lack glamour, are possibly boring and repetitive, yet necessary, and provide a lot of bang for your buck. Weighted carries are underutilised in athletic development.

Weighted Carries help to build:

  • Midline stability
  • Grip strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Tenacity
Lucas Parker Crossfit athlete farmer's carries weights outside by the sea whilst doing crossfit grunt work
CrossFit Games Athlete Lucas Parker using Farmer’s Carries to improve his strength, stability and mental toughness.

There are several variations of the weighted carry, three of which we will cover:


Probably the most well known and the easiest to execute of the carries. The key to this exercise is to use the heaviest weight possible with proper form.


Choose two heavy kettlebells or dumbbells. Begin with the weight resting on the ground. Deadlift the weights to your sides, while maintaining a flat back and neutral spine. Once you have picked up the weights, you will walk the specified distance while maintaining good posture.


This is the more challenging version of a weighted carry. The overhead carry is also great for building midline stability, but overhead stability and strength as well. Overhead stability translates into a better lockout in the overhead lifts. This move is much more challenging and will require less weight. Choose a conservative (light) weight.


Start by pressing the weight overhead in a clean and jerk motion. Once the weights have been secured overhead, lock the elbows, squeeze the glutes and abs, and pull the rib cage down. The key to this exercise is keeping the core tight. Now, begin walking and constantly press the weight to the sky.


This is a great drill for keeping the torso upright during the front squat or clean, as well as learning to breathe properly under load.


For this move, you will only need one heavy weight. You are going to lift the weight to your chest and basically hug your kettlebell for the duration of your carry. It may look silly, but your biceps and abs will be screaming by the end.


12 Minute AMRAP:

  • 150m Farmers Carry (70/45  per hand)
  • 100m Baby Carry (70/45 one weight held across the chest)
  • 50m Overhead Carry (53/35 per hand)

Notes: This is twelve minutes of as many reps as possible (AMRAP). This will vary from the typical CrossFit WOD in that it’s not a sprint.

This WOD is all about slow and steady, but believe me, your lungs will be in a world of hurt. Focus on keeping the core tight. The goal is to set the weight down as few times as possible. This is not a workout I would suggest going alone. Grab a buddy, and head out to the track. This will keep you honest and add that extra push.

Crossfit grunt work male and female crossfitters farmer's carry exercise outside
Farmer’s Carries will put your grip strength and willpower to the test


This isn’t a glamorous or fun workout. However, it will enhance every other aspect of your fitness arsenal.

  1. Midline stability translates to everything we do in CrossFit.
  2. Grip strength will help you hit that new deadlift PR.
  3. Overhead stability will build a better lockout in the snatch and the jerk.
  4. Carries build tenacity, because you really want to set the weight down but deep down you know you can go further.

This won’t be pretty, but that’s why it’s called grunt work!

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