What the Bucket Carry is:
This is the bucket carry: A gravel filled 5-gallon bucket that must be carried 200-to-400 meters in a Spartan Race.
The Bucket Carry requires upper-back strength, grip strength, posterior-chain endurance, and glute strength.
Mistakes I most often see
Out on the course there are a few common mistakes I see with the bucket carry. The first is not filling the bucket all the way. This usually tells me that a person did not train properly for the weight of the bucket (approximately 60-to-75 pounds) or they just are not mentally committed to the obstacle. There are exemptions for injury or other issues, but not for just making it easier on yourself or that you do not feel like doing it. The bucket carry is meant to be a grueling and tiring carry. It’s simple but not easy.
The second mistake I see is the proper grip. Different arm lengths will have different proper grips on the bucket. The one I like the best is the bear hug method that we teach in the Spartan Obstacle Course Specialist Course. The bucket is held high against the chest, arms wrapped around, one hand is grasping the other wrist. Squeeze in tight using your lats and back muscles. This keeps the bucket off your hip flexors and close to your center of gravity. This will allow you to move quicker and carry longer.
DO NOT carry the bucket up on the shoulder! This is a big mistake I see at the race. There is an artery that runs through the area that you don’t want to mess around with.
(Check out Coach Borgatti’s advice on the barbed wire crawl.)
I like to have 1-to-2 days per week that have heavy carries in my workout. Or I do them after the main workout. I mix up the buckets with large sandbags that I can bear hug. Work your way up to 75-pounds for a 400-meter carry. Start light go long distances. Then add weight and reduce distance over time. (Watch the SGX video for ideas on gym exercises you can do as well).
(i.e. 50 pounds for 400 meters versus 100-pound carries for 10-meters x time rounds.)
This is one obstacle I like to wear gloves for. Piling gravel into a bucket with bare hands can really mess them up. Save your hands for all the grip obstacles by wearing gloves to push the gravel into the bucket. Gloves are also beneficial if you hold the bucket under the bottom. The buckets have a small ridge under that digs into your hands and can make grip obstacles more difficult later. Not to mention that it just hurts. The gloves will protect you from this.
Prepare to dominate the course. Download the Spartan Obstacle Guide