Workout Tips

Squat, Swing, Carry for Lean Muscle

Functional training just went agro. Try one of these equipment-minimal workouts to build a leaner, more athletic physique.


We love the squat rack as much as anyone else. But every once in a while, it’s good to try to add some function to all that form. Squatting, swinging, and carrying heavy weight are all fantastic methods to put on slabs of muscle and torch body fat. Combine them all into one workout, and you have a bulletproof workout to ensure that you gain size and strength in no time, while still maintaining high levels of athleticism and functionality.

Why are squat, swing, carry combos so beneficial at putting on size and strength, while helping fat loss? Let’s quickly look at the benefits of each movement. 

Goblet Squat and Kettlebell Squats

Popularized by legendary strength coach, Dan John, these squat variations have become the sidekicks of the traditional back and front squats with the barbell. The goblet squat is very useful when you want to do some extra lower-body work but need to give the joints and nervous system some recovery time from heavier loaded squats. They also help improve mobility in the hip, thus helping you out with other lower-body movement patterns. They also feel good on the joints and hammer your quads in the process.

Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is great for strengthening the entire posterior chain. It is the perfect complement to the goblet squat for total lower-body development. They also allow you to perform them at higher reps, making them a great conditioning (read: fat loss) tool. The ballistic motion of the movement also helps increase power development which can translate into better performance on standard barbell squats.


Loaded Carries

It takes muscle and stamina to carry heavy stuff from point A to point B. Brought into vogue within fitness circles by Dan John, carries will build your grip, arms, and core, and teach you to maintain a high level of force output for extended periods of time. Carries are the bridge between being strong and having great strength-capacity. 


Here are three different combos that are sure to hit every major muscle group in the body in different ways.

Foundational: This is a good introduction to squat, swing, carry training.

Symmetry: Forcing you to work with asymmetrical loads calls more muscles into play.

Advanced: This allows you to put it all together with heavier loads and a higher overall demand.

Perform five rounds of the circuit you choose. Make it your goal to keep the kettlebell in hand(s) until you finish the prescribed number of reps for each movement in the circuit. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.


5 Goblet Squats
5 Kettlebell Swings
40-Meter Goblet Hold Carry

Tip: For your swings, strive to get the bell to eye level. On your carries, hold the kettlebell in the goblet squat position.


5 Offset Kettlebell Squats (each side)
15 Kettlebell Swings (each arm)
40-Meter Suitcase Carries (each arm)

Tip: For your offset kettlebell squats, simply hold one kettlebell around the handle at shoulder level, elbow tucked into your body, your off hand extended out to your side for balance for all reps before switching sides. Use your resting arm for balance on the suitcase carry as well.


5 Double Kettlebell Front Squats
15 Double Kettlebell Swings
40-Meter Farmer’s Carry

Tip: On the double kettlebell front squats, both dumbbells will be held at shoulder level, elbows down. For the double kettlebell swings, make sure that you take a wider stance that allows for clearance of both bells. Go heavy enough that all activities in the circuit are challenging.