Make Conditioning Drills More Difficult With a Wheelbarrow

A loaded wheelbarrow can help athletes improve their agility. STACK Expert Kelvin King Jr. helps you get started.

Agility drills aren't widely used in strongman competitions, but they're a valuable companion to strongman training. They are an important transformational tool, improving explosiveness, footwork, change of direction and muscle control (just to name a few).

Combining a strongman apparatus (in this case, a wheelbarrow) with agility drills for speed, change of direction and quickness can increase the metabolic demands placed on an athlete's body, teaching muscle control and giving the athlete an appropriate advantage over his or her opponent.

The drills shown above will challenge your mind, keep you in a competitive environment and help you lose body fat without compromising muscle tissue. They will get your core muscles stronger and increase your muscular power and endurance.

If you play football or lacrosse, the wheelbarrow puts you into a forward lean pushing against resistance, similar to how you drive against an opponent. The progressions and quick movements also help lacrosse, tennis and field hockey players practice acceleration with the use of the arm swing.

Not all athletes will be able to reach peak velocities on the drills below in the same time frame. For instance, taller athletes may take longer. And training age may make a difference. Athletes who are not between intermediate and advanced in their training (six to 12 months or more) should not perform these progressions. It may take an athlete longer to reach peak velocity on the drills below, depending on his or her age and stature.


  • Allows an athlete to increase grip strength without just walking with dumbbells or other apparatus.
  • Challenges the strength of the entire body as well as core stability.
  • Enhances sensory and and muscle control if you perform the movement on an unstable surface (e.g., grass) with a loaded wheelbarrow, which increases the demands on the core and trunk muscles, improving core stability and balance.

The Set-Up

  • The wheelbarrow should be slightly loose. The tighter the wheelbarrow, the harder it is to turn around the cones.
  • Set up the cones as you normally would to perform agility/change-of-direction drills.

Coaching Points

  • Increase tension in your upper body by gripping the handles tightly.
  • Maintain a proper forward lean as if you were in a two-point stance.
  • Drive backward through the ground to push the wheelbarrow forward.
  • Explode out of your starting stance.
  • As you get moving around the cones, turn the wheelbarrow around the cone first, because of the load. When you have the wheelbarrow around, turn your head toward the next cone in the sequence; then your body will get through the movement successfully.
  • Lean into each turn, and maneuver the wheelbarrow up and down to achieve each turn successfully. For example, if you pull up on the wheelbarrow handles, it will drive you into the ground. If you push down, you will have better success, but see what works for you.
  • Keep your core engaged and your back flat.
  • Increase the loads gradually—remember, technique comes first.
  • Your body position will fluctuate during the drills, which is excellent in some sports.


Berning, J. M., Adams, K. J., Climstein, M., and Stamford, B. A. "Metabolic Demands of 'Junkyard' Training: Pushing and Pulling a Motor Vehicle." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(3), 853-856, 2007.

Keogh, J. W., Payne, A. L., Anderson, B. B., and Atkins, P. J. "A Brief Description of the Biomechanics and Physiology of a Strongman Event: The Tire Flip." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(5), 1223-1228, 2010.

Keogh, J. W., Newlands, C., Blewett, S., Payne, A., and Chun-Er, L. "A Kinematic Analysis of a Strongman-Type Event: The Heavy Sprint-Style Sled Pull." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(x), 1-10 (2009).