The thought of the bucket carry used to make me want to throw up.
When it comes to bucket carry, most of us have the strength to carry it longer then we actually do. I’ve seen very tiny men and women power through twice the distance of bigger athletes. What gives them the adventage?
Although you need a basic foundation of strength the true test of ability is your willingness to suffer, and dig deep into your own personal pain cave. The second you think “I have to drop this bucket” or “I don’t think I’ll make it” you failed mentally.
We all have monkeys on our backs, and the monkeys get louder the longer you put your body into a uncomfortable position. Some of the best runners are daydreamers, and you need to apply the same principle to the bucket carry in order to ignore the pain. Count to 10, sing a song, or make up a story in your head. The last thing you need to think about is bucket. Most importantly breathe. Holding your breath, which is common in the front loaded position, will cause you to suffer more. Breathing also relaxes the body.
With the exception of actually performing a bucket carry, In terms of strength, here are four exercises you can work on to accomplish this task without blowing out your back and wrecking your grip:
After you finish a set of 8-10 reps hold the bar at the top for as long as you can to develop grip strength in that position.
The Zercher Squat
The weight will pull your body forward similar to the bucket and put pressure on your lower back. Performing this squat will engage the same core muscles involved in the carry. Use a towel to protect your arms, unless you have real grit.
GHD holds with weight plate.
This will develop strength in the posterior chain. Hamstrings and butt should do the majority of the work, where as the muscles of your lower back will provide stability as they do in the bucket carry. Start with 30 second holds, then progress to 1-2 minutes.
Finally, heavy farmer carries up hill. This will combine dealing with the torture of elevation and the pain of aching forearms.
Good luck, and I hope you find inner peace on the bucket carry!
Photo credit: Josh Stryde, Spartan Race
Josh Stryde is a competitive OCR athlete from the Western Canadian Spartan Elite Team training out of Cor.Fit. He is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist at World Health Edgemont. Follow Josh on Instagram at stryde_ocr.