Odd Objects for Gains

By Mike De La Pava

I know what you’re thinking and yeah… you are probably right.  I am biased towards strongman and often find myself bringing up the importance of its movements for everyday training across all sports.  I don’t advise that anyone outside of the sport of strongman chase substantial weight in the movements and most strongman events can be scaled easily.  Due to this ease in scalability, I have found great value on one particular movement to add on to your training that can have a significant effect on not only conditioning but posterior strength, as well.

At The Battle Axe Gym, I try to implement an object carry at least 1-3 times a week.  Two out of these three are typically a suitcase carry or KB bottoms up carry for general spine maintenance and trunk stability.  The last carry and my favorite one is usually an odd object carry performed for a reasonable distance (or other variables) at a weight that is not over 70-75% of the lifters max deadlift.  The objects can range from farmers, yoke, or sandbags to a beer Keg filled with pea gravel.  Not all gyms have these available but having a heavy sandbag or a pair of farmers is pretty standard in most gyms nowadays and should be readily available to most people reading this article or easily purchased online for a decent price.  If you have access to these or are planning on purchasing, I highly suggest you add them weekly to your lower intensity day or GPP days.

Some of the more intimidating or more expensive implements (yoke, wheelbarrow, etc.) are a great bonus but not 100% necessary.  Focus on something simple first like a sandbag that you can eventually fill up to body weight.  Due to the non-friendly grip, stability, or structure of most of these implements, it will cause a healthy strain on the body to maintain this item for distance.  Its shape and neurological demand will make 100ft seem like a 5k run.  Although each piece can have a particular niche on how to pick up, hold, and carry, the basic formula remains the same.  Grip tight, load up the posterior chain, don’t lean forward, and maintain a sturdy wedge during carrying.  Due to the actual distance being carried, diaphragmatic breathing is an absolute must as any loss of tension in the core will make the carry that much harder or cause a drop.  Make sure you make the weight of the object challenging enough that it forces you to work.  An odd object that is far below your strength level will, in turn, make it a waste of time.  Make sure the object is challenging not only your grip but your conditioning, as well.  The sweet spot will ultimately be up to you and will take some troubleshooting.  Below is a typical set up that I use at my gym for powerlifters, strongmen and the general population.  Give some of these a try on a weekly basis and see how much stronger and more conditioned you will become.

Sandbag Carry:

Perform 5 sets of 150ft carries.

*Advance lifters use bags at or above body weight.  Moderate or beginner lifters use a bag 20-30 pounds under body weight.

Farmers Carry:

Perform four sets of 50/50ft carries down and around a cone. Set the cone 50ft from the start line and make sure to make a tight turn around the cone and carry it 50ft back.  The demand on the grip and your posterior chain will have you thanking strongman.

*Advance lifters use 70% of your deadlift as total weight.  Moderate or beginner lifters use 40-50% of your deadlift max as your farmer’s total weight.

Keg Carry:

Perform eight sets of 50ft carries with a 90-second rest.

*The keg is a little harder to find at most gyms but in my opinion, it remains one of the hardest objects to carry due to its “no give” structure that becomes very crushing over time.  In this case, we will use it as a way to get conditioned without too much pressure on your back, but at the same time challenging your grip and hamstrings.  Advance lifters use a keg 20 pounds under body weight.  Moderate or beginner lifters use a keg about 40 pounds under your current body weight.  This workout is not easy.

As with all new things, be patient and reasonable on when and how you add these into your program.  Consult with your coach or your current training program.  I would advise that if you are in the middle of a meet prep or comp prep (outside of strongman) to not use these until your offseason.  Start with moderate weights as the percentages listed above can vary from person to person based on experience, injuries, lifting age, strength, etc.  If you are patient and add these in on a weekly basis, you will find these tools to be extremely valuable in creating a healthy and conditioned base.  Hope this helps and happy hunting!

Never Stray from The Way


To read more, check out the MDLP Chronicles and to learn more about weighted carries and the variety of benefits and applications, check out Gift of Injury by Brian Carroll and Dr. Stuart McGill.

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Michael “MDLP” De La Pava is currently a competitive Strongman and owner of The Battle Axe Gym. Born in Miami, Florida into a Colombian household, Michael finished his schooling by attending Penn State University where he graduated with a Degree in Psychology. Having his roots in martial arts, he would go on to compete in various sports as a Muay Thai fighter, Powerlifter, and rugby player before committing himself fully to Strongman. During this time, he opened Miami’s first Strongman gym, The Battle Axe, where he currently coaches athletes from various disciplines including powerlifting, MMA fighters, Strongman, officers of multiple authorities and enlisted and active military operators. Competing in Strongman for over 6 years has given Michael the opportunity to rank as high as 15th in the nation (105kg), won Florida’s Strongest man (1st in 2014 and 2nd in 2015 in the 105kg class), lift and load a 420 pound Atlas stone, log press 335, pull 700, and most importantly, share the competitive battlefield with some of the best in the game. During this journey, Michael suffered what some would consider a potentially career-ending spine injury. It was at this time that Brian and Michael would begin working together to not only rehab his spine, allowing him to return to Strongman but also develop a new Strongman training program revolving around the 10/20 philosophy. Strongman and coaching have given Michael the opportunity to travel around the nation and the world to train, coach and be coached, as well as share ideas with various leaders in the strength community. Michael’s experience and network in strongman brings a welcome connection with the ever-growing sport of Strongman to the 10/20 team and PRS family.

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