Loaded Carry Exercises for Strength

Rack and Overhead Hold and Carries

Static Hold 2 Kettlebells Overhead. Gettyimages

Previously, you were introduced to the Low Static Hold and Carry, aka, Farmer’s Carry, which is a Static Hold in the Low Position. That type of Loaded Carry is a hand, grip and finger strengthener as well as a great core strength developer since it requires you to keep a firm midline (core).

The other typical positions for Kettlebell Loaded Carries are the Rack Position, which is holding one or two kettlebells at the chest, and one or two kettlebells in the Overhead Lockout position.


To perform the Rack Hold, Clean 1 or 2 kettlebells to your chest. You can stand in 1 place, holding the kettlebells, or you can slowly walk forwards, backward, side-to-side, or by moving in clockwise and counter-clockwise circles. If holding only one kettlebell, make sure not to lean to one side, rather keep an upright posture with hips and shoulders level on the horizontal plane. When performing the Rack Carry, all postural guidelines of the Rack Position apply, while adding the walk. The kettlebells do not move as you walk.

To do the Overhead Static Hold, Press, Push Press, Jerk or Snatch 1 or 2 kettlebells Overhead and Lockout completely. Fixation is the term that describes control in the Overhead Position, where the kettlebells and the arms do not move and the biceps are close to or touching the ears. As with the Low and Rack Hold positions, keep your body upright and hips level whether holding 1 or 2 kettlebells.

The Overhead Walk adds an additional challenge to the Hold, and you can move in any direction. As you move around, keep your midsection firm and do not allow the arms and kettlebells to drift forwards, backward or to the sides. Lower the kettlebell down to the Chest - Rack Position, once your shoulders fatigue.

Don’t push too far beyond fatigue in the Overhead Hold or Carry, as a loss of control, there risks causing a shoulder injury. It will take time to build up your endurance in the overhead position. 

Of the 3 positions, Low Static Hold, Rack Hold, and High/Overhead Hold, the Overhead position is relatively the most difficult, and the low position is the relative easiest. As such, one strategy is to combine all 3 static holds into 1 exercise, starting with the Overhead Hold, then moving to Rack Hold when you can no longer hold overhead with good form, and finally, lower to the Low Farmer’s Hold position when you can no long hold at the chest. When your grip is finally smoked from the Farmer’s Carry, place the kettlebells down. 

Other helpful variations of loaded carries include:

-1 Overhead/1 Rack - stand or walk with one kettlebell in Rack position and the other kettlebell in Overhead Lockout

-1 Overhead/1 Low - hold 1 kettlebell in the Low Farmer’s position and the other Overhead

-1 Low/1 Rack - hold 1 kettlebell in the Farmer’s position and the other kettlebell in Rack. 

-3 position Hold - using 2 kettlebells, alternate between Rack, Overhead and Low Static holds, holding 10s each position and doing numerous rounds (10s per position x 3 positions =  30s = 1 round) Work up to 3 minutes (6 rounds) before increasing the weight of the kettlebells.


Many of these basic variations can be made more challenging by changing the leverage (link to Leverage article), holding 1 or 2 kettlebells in Bottom Up Rack or Bottoms Up Overhead, or with an Open Palm Rack or Open Overhead. Like most kettlebell exercises, the variations for Loaded Carries be limited only by the lack of imagination.