The Spartan Race is a number of obstacles within a race of a varied distance. It could be from a short 3 miles to an entire marathon length.
One of the obstacles is called bucket carry (bucket brigade), in which the competitor has to carry a 5-gallon bucket full of gravel between 200 and 400 meters within the race.
The weight of a 5-gallon bucket of gravel is approximately 75 pounds (34 kg).
Completing the bucket carry is no easy feat, and you’ll need plenty of UPPER body strength to do so.
There is a different amount and set of obstacles in various events, from 20 in Sprint to 60 in Ultra. The actual mix of obstacles varies slightly from race to race.
Today we’re looking at how you can get a good grip on the bucket to make it a little easier for you.
Things To Avoid When Practicing The Bucket Carry
Before we get into how to complete the bucket carry properly, let’s take a look at things to avoid.
The first is a common mistake that we see during the Spartan Race, and it is people not filling the bucket up completely.
While you might want to benefit from the lesser weight, the entire point of the bucket carry is to push yourself. The only exception to this is if you have an injury.
If you are able to, though, don’t think about making the obstacle easier for yourself. Push yourself the way that the bucket carry was intended.
The second mistake concerns the grip on the bucket. You will have a different grip on the bucket from others depending on your arm length.
You’ll need to try a few different holds to find which is the best for you, although most people find that the bear hug works best for them.
Some people try to hold the bucket up with their hands underneath the base, but this significantly slows you down and limits the mobility of your legs.
Others will try to pinch the perimeter of the bucket, but SWEATY fingers will easily slip along the plastic and loosen your grip.
The Bear Hug Carrying Method
The bear hug method of carrying the bucket is by far the most POPULAR way of completing the bucket carry.
This is because the bucket does not have any handles and is very slippery against your fingers.
The bear hug allows you to keep the bucket pressed against your torso, allowing free movement of your legs to get you to the finish line – so you can put the bucket down quicker!
It also ensures that you’re using all of your upper body muscles together instead of straining just a few of them.
To properly complete the bear hug lift, the bucket needs to be positioned high on your chest with both arms wrapped around as tightly as possible.
One hand should be gripping the bucket while the other is holding onto the wrist of the one on the bucket.
Use your lats and back muscles to squeeze the bucket as tight as you can between your arms. This will help to keep the bucket in place and prevent it from slipping down towards your hip flexors.
Not only will this keep full mobility of your legs, but it will also close your center of gravity.
The bear hug, when done correctly, ensures that you can move quickly towards the finish line, as well as carry the bucket longer without having to stop and reposition it.
Training Yourself For Bucket Carrying
The best way to train yourself for the bucket carry is to start slowly and work your way up to a heavy bucket and the longest distance.
If you attempt to start training with a 75-pound bucket of gravel and 400 meters of distance right away, you’re much more likely to injure yourself.
Instead, start with 25 pounds for 100 meters, working your way up to 200 meters, then 300, and finally 400 meters.
Then add more weight to make the bucket 50 pounds and repeat the training process until you reach 400 pounds. Repeat this until you’re happy that you can complete the bucket carry in a Spartan Race.
Don’t feel limited to only using a bucket of gravel in your training. We like to switch it up with other weights, such as sandbags, that we can carry in a bear hug.
During your training, you can also attempt different holds to see if they feel better for you. If you think a hold feels good during the 200-meter carry, though, make sure that you test it on the 400-meter carry too.
You don’t want to get halfway into the race only to find the bucket slipping, costing you lots of time and energy to stop and reposition it.
Our Final Tip On Surviving The Bucket Carry
One tip that we will offer anyone looking to complete a bucket carry in the Spartan Race is to wear gloves. Many obstacles within the race can be hindered with gloves, so carry some in your waistband until you get to the bucket carry.
We wear gloves during the bucket carry because scooping all that gravel into the bucket within a few minutes can really damage your hands and create an issue for the rest of the obstacles.
Not only that, but gloves can save your hands from the plastic ridges that protrude from the bucket. When you have 75 pounds of gravel pushing this into your skin, it can really hurt! Gloves will be your best friend during the bucket carry – trust us.
The Bottom Line
We hope that this article has helped you learn more about bucket carry and how you can complete it in a way that’s not going to hurt too much.
The bear hug is the fan favorite for a reason – it allows all of your upper body muscle groups to work together to ease the load from just one.
Make sure that you have some gloves with you for the carry, and don’t underfill the bucket! Get out there and complete the bucket carry as it was first intended.