Fitness tip - Overhead KB carry

Fitness tip - Overhead KB carry

by Evigan Xiao 06 Jan 2020

Ask anyone to perform a loaded carry and they’ll most likely start with some variation of the Farmer’s Walk. While loaded trap bars, kettlebells and sandbags are all wonderful tools with which to execute the loaded carry, many are under the impression that there is only one way to approach this wonderful exercise (i.e. carrying the load on each side of the body). Instead, try popping a pair of kettlebells overhead and see what happens!


The use of kettlebells in loaded carries is as varied as it is effective. Whether it’s with the arms at the side, in the front rack position, bottoms-up or one-handed, there’s a variation that suits every purpose. Pressing a pair of kettlebells overhead and walking with them in that position makes the simple loaded carry a lot more challenging due to the physics involved.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


It is a well-known fact that is easier to cause a taller person to lose balance due to their higher centre of gravity. This principle applies perfectly to the case of the overhead kettlebell carry. The vertical increase attributed to the raised kettlebells increases your centre of gravity, the effects of which are keenly felt when one begins to walk.


The other added challenge of the overhead kettlebell carry is attributed to the arms having to remain fully extended and the shoulders flexed in order to keep the kettlebells supported. Needless to say, it is important that the thoracic spine remains extended throughout, along with the shoulder blades being “packed”.


Proper pacing and control are key to making the overhead carry work. If you use too much speed, you might end up being carried forward by momentum instead of you generating force off the ground. Said momentum could also cause you to lose your balance. Being in conscious control of your core musculature is also requisite – your entire torso should be bracing as you move from one end to the other.


If you feel up to the challenge, the overhead kettlebell carry can also be performed unilaterally. While one arm holds up the kettlebell, the other is held at a 90-degree angle parallel to the ground in order to provide counter-balance. Holding it in a bottoms-up position (works for both bilateral and unilateral variations) will REALLY test your shoulder stability and grip strength as you walk. Whichever variation you choose to go with, start with a lighter load to get used to the exercise before ramping up the weight!