I will likely be getting married in one year. I am not in shape by any means of the words, but I am not overweight (6' and 156 lbs). I want to be able to carry my (soon-to-be) wife, who is (best guess) between 120 and 140 lbs. In my current condition I cannot carry her longer than a few minutes.

What sort of exercises should I do (and how often) in order to increase my carrying capacity and endurance?


Different situation, but exactly the same prescription as this answer. Lift, get bigger, then after you have a basic level of strength, train for your specific task of carrying things.

Take up Starting Strength or another all-around heavy compound lifting program (squats, deadlifts, presses, chin-ups) and supplement with farmer's walks and Atlas stone carries/lifts. The SS wiki gives you the bare minimum of information in order to take on the program. The 2nd or 3rd edition book is details the program in full.

  • Thanks! Can you recommend a good schedule of doing this type of training so that I'm not tearing myself apart, or taking things too easily? Jun 28 '12 at 1:04
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    @Darthfett I updated my answer to add references to the wiki and book. I strongly recommend buying the book, then the necessary equipment. Reading the wiki thoroughly is also a fine option. Jun 28 '12 at 1:11
  • The Texas Method proposed in Starting Strength is similar to Stronglifts 5x5, they suggest 3x/week. That can work quite well for the first two weeks, but you might find quite soon after the first two weeks that having just 1-2 rest days between workouts is insufficient and you'll have to switch to 2-3 rest days and eventually 3-4 rest days. This will depend on how your body adapts and how well suited your environment is to recovering. As long as you're increasing the weight at a steady pace, you're not taking things too easily. By far the greatest risk is overtraining.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jun 28 '12 at 5:16
  • @RobinAshe Starting Strength's 3x5 linear progression is not the same as the Texas Method. The actual Texas Method allows for greater rest periods by using workouts focused on light training or volume training in addition to heavy days. Jun 28 '12 at 6:17
  • Ah, that definitely does help things. Since some people find optimal workouts if they're doing them very heavy are once every 7-10 days, even a program with light days mixed in with heavy days would benefit people like that if the rest days are increased.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jun 28 '12 at 19:20

You'll need to do the standard lifts - deadlifts and squats, mix them up, don't just do one kind (ie only barbell deadlifts and back squats) as carrying a person will require some adaptability. Also mix in lifting sandbags and other odd shaped objects, as a person isn't perfectly symmetrical like a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.

Also, to keep holding her, you're going to need to do isometric contractions. Particularly bicep curls but stopping the motion with your elbows at 90 degrees. Gradually ramp up the weight you're doing it with, and the time.

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