How The Zercher Carry Works For Overall Strength

The Zercher Carry is one of those exercises you need to really boost overall strength and size.

For those of us looking to enhance our functional movements or sport specific activities, the Zercher Carry is a great exercise help get us there. As a seriously effective loaded carry, it is rather easy to learn and can provide for serious gains to all areas of our fitness goals. While this may be a lesser know exercise in the fitness world, it has the ability to improve all functional movements you seek to change. Similar to its counterpart in the Zercher Squat, this carry is one to really give you great benefits towards your overall strength.

Let’s jump into the Zercher Carry and see what this is all about. From what it is, to muscles worked, and the many benefits, we’ll also show you how to do it and offer some great loaded carry alternatives so you can constantly change up you workout.

What Is The Zercher Carry?

The Zercher Carry is a functional movement and loaded carry where you hold the weight in the pits of your elbows and walk for a set amount of time or distance. Very similar to many functional movements, like lifting a box or carrying groceries from the car, the parallels are easy to spot. Named after the strongman Ed Zercher, this carry has stood the test of time as a great exercise to continue to see gains. With many muscle worked and real benefits that can be used for your all around daily life, the Zercher Carry is one exercise you cannot ignore and the results will prove why (1).

Muscles Worked

What you’ll find with the Zercher Carry is a host of muscles worked to round out a great overall strength exercise. Your core and the majority of your upper body muscles will be seriously targeted since this is a great front-loaded exercise. Your abs and obliques will feel quite the burn as you seek to stay as strong and stable as possible in order to properly achieve this lift. On top of those muscles, your traps, delt, pecs, biceps, and forearms will all feel a burn and will allow you to see increased growth and size.

strong man

Benefits Of The Zercher Carry

The benefits of the Zercher Carry will make you want to perform them for what they can do for all your gains. A great exercise with many benefits, this is one worth putting into your routine so don’t neglect that. Be cautious of how much weight you use right off the bat but don’t be afraid to push it a little to really see some awesome gains.


Benefits of the Zercher Carry include:

  • Promote power and strength: By working so many muscles with an increased load, this carry allows for hypertrophy to take place so you see the gains you want most.
  • Reveals muscle imbalances: Since this exercise requires good posture and functional movements, any imbalances will reveal themselves with the effectiveness of this lift (2).
  • Works many muscles: Many different muscles are targeted with this well-rounded exercise to allow for a more efficient lift.
  • Versatile and adaptable exercise: Since this is a hold, you can adjust to make sure the weight is comfortable and that you can perform this properly.

muscle strength training masculine performance

How To Perform It

Here are the steps for performing the Zercher Carry:

  1. Set the bar up with your desired amount of weight.
  2. Place your elbows under the bar and bend your arms so they wrap around it. You will cradle the barbell in your arms.
  3. With a tight core and good posture, walk with the weight for your desired distance or amount of time.
  4. Return to the starting point and repeat for your desired number of reps.

Other Loaded Carry Alternatives

Here are some loaded carry alternatives to check out when looking to change up your routine. With similar movements and benefits, you can’t go wrong with a great loaded carry exercise on any day of the week.

  • Yoke Carry
  • Farmer’s Walks
  • Fireman’s Carry
  • Duck Walks
  • Sled Pulls

Featured Supplement For Gains

When it comes to these bigger exercises and lifts, it is important to always remember to use proper supplementation to make sure those gains of yours stick. A good pre-workout can boost your energy and provide for great muscle pumps while something like a BCAA can help maintain muscle and reduce fatigue for stronger workouts. For these bigger lifts, a high-quality protein supplement is a must to help enhance muscle growth while also working on taking recovery to the next level (3).

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Wrap Up

The Zercher Carry is a great functional exercise and one that allows for real gains for sport specific movements or for those of daily life. While this exercise may be relatively easy to perform, you should take proper care when it comes to the amount of weight used and the technique you perform it with for any loaded carry can put you in a vulnerable spot. With the Zercher Carry, really feel the burn as this compound movement works many muscle and allows for seriously great gains. Give this carry a try and see what it can do for your functional and sport specific movements, as well as your overall strength, today.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Transparent Labs and Envato


  1. Butcher, Scott J.; Rusin, John S. (2016). “Core Strength and Functionality with Loaded Carries”. (source)
  2. Franettovich, M.; Hides, J.; Mendis, M. D.; Littleworth, H. (2011). “Muscle imbalance among elite athletes”. (source)
  3. Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.