In this video Dan John lists loaded carries as a basic movement pattern (along with push, pull, hinge and squat). He further goes on to say that loaded carries (e.g. farmers walk) is the one movement that has the biggest impact on athletes (also keep in mind that DJ was a competetive shotputter = rotational athlete when he discovered the benefits of loaded carries on himself). This seems to indicate that loaded carries train muscles that are not being trained by the other compund movements.

Farmers walk:

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Which muscles is that? In other words which muscles do loaded carries train that are not trained by say the deadlift, the squat, the benchpress and pullups.

I already know that it trains the Quadratus Lumborum, and this is very good in order to avoid pain in the lower back.

From what I read it also trains the Gluteus Medius: (1) Is this correct? Do it also train the other internal hip rotators? The glute medius is part of the internal hip rotators that are important during athletic activities such as running, boxing and throwing. That would be a great way to avoid "silly" exercises like this:

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From what I read it also trains the rotator cuff: (2).

If so this would be a great way to avoid another "silly" exercise:

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(1) Walk Your Way to Gains

(2) My Go-To Rotator Cuff Exercise

  • 2
    Which muscles do loaded carries work? Well, it depends on what you mean by loaded carries, but generally speaking, I would say... all of them.
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 16:21
  • 1
    Related: What muscles are deadlifts meant to target?
    – Thomas Markov
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 13:02
  • I am already doing deadlifts, squats, push-ups and pullups. I am interested in which muscles are unique to loaded carries. If the answer is none I will not bother doing loaded carries.
    – Andy
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 13:22
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    Just because a muscle is already worked by your program does not mean you can't benefit from loading it in a different way with another exercise. For instance a deadlift is approximately equal to a power clean in terms of muscles used – but those muscles are used differently. A suitcase carry may not load any muscles that a deadlift + squat don't load, but it uses them differently and is therefore useful. Face pulls may not work any muscles the pull-up doesn't, but they can still provide benefits the pull-up cannot. The "which-muscles" perspective is quite limited. Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:28
  • 1
    Right, and this gets into whether a muscle is used synergistically or as a prime mover, and through which ranges of motion, and bilaterally or unilaterally, how the load changes through the ROM... Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


The suitcase carry:

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offers a more unique stimulus than the farmer carry for someone already doing barbell training. When walking with a weight in the right hand the right Gluteus Medius, the right Tensor Fascia Latae and the left Quadratus Lumborum have to work isometrically to keep the pelvis level when on one foot (1,2).

Also the Gluteus Medius produces rotation of hip when walking with assistance from the Gluteus Minimus and the Tensor Fascia Lata (2). The mass of the weight increases the inertia that has to be overcome during rotation and therefore trains these muscles more effective than walking without a weight.

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These muscles are not trained much by traditional barbell exercises(1). But they are important. Strong QLs in particular may help prevent pain in lower back(3). Weak Gluteus Medius may cause pain in the knee (4):

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Figure(5): A weak gluteus medius will cause the pelvis to drop on the opposite side, placing more stress on the knee. It is especially important for runners to avoid this (5).

The suitcase carry also do a very good job at training the Obliques (6).

It is therefore a good idea to incorporate suitcase carries into ones strength training program (1).

They should be performed after the main (barbell) lifts. They can be made harder by lifting the knees higher.

(1) The BEST Core Work for Weightlifters & Powerlifters

(2) Gluteus Medius

(3) The Little-Known Muscle That's Probably Making Your Back Hurt

(4) Glute Medius - The Weakest Muscle in Your Lower Body!

(5) What is the gluteus medius (and why it’s Important for Runners)

(6) Tip: The Smart Way to Hit Your Obliques

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