08 Feb THE IMPORTANCE OF LOADED CARRIES
Loaded Carries are a simple but extremely effective strength and conditioning exercise. Once you are willing to do the work, incorporating loaded carries into your training regime will yield seriously beneficial results. They are not a technically difficult movement to master and yet have a tremendous carryover to both life and sport.
Loaded carries build work capacity, strengthen your grip and your core.
LOADED CARRIES BENEFITS
Loaded Carries present a serious stimulus and challenge for your core muscles. A stronger, more useful core ultimately provides your arms and legs with a more powerful base for generating more power, running faster, throwing harder, and performing heavier lifts.
With loaded carries, you essentially just pick up a heavy weight, embrace it and carry it for a specified distance or time. The benefits are not limited to muscles however, they are excellent for improving work capacity.
Below are just some of the many reasons why individuals and athletes alike should perform loaded carries with a variety of loads, objects, distances, and timed sets.
Develops Grip Strength
The ability to grip, pull, and hold anything in your hands is key to strength movements. By increasing grip strength, you will be able to grip and lift heavier implements and objects while maintaining proper form.
Increases Muscle Mass
By increasing the time spent under a load with controlled tension you increase hypertrophy. Your ability to load for a prolonged period of time with heavy weight will directly impact your ability to gain muscle size and strength.
Increases Postural Stability and Strength
When carrying loads in various environments, postural stability and strength is essential to allow for proper movement. Loaded carries stimulate and train the deeper muscle tissues and fibers surrounding the spinal area. This in turn enhances movement patterning, postural strength and control required for traditional barbell movements like squats, presses, and deadlifts.
Enhances Core Stabilization
As already stated, carries provide and excellent stimulus for strengthening the core muscles. Heavy Farmer carries create an enormous challenge and demand to your spinal stabilizers. The ability to resist any form of spinal rotation, flexion and extension is absolutely essential to injury prevention and for maximal force production.
The Farmer Carry is highly functional and transferable to real world conditions and fixed movements such as the squat, deadlift and pressing.
Develops Real Athleticism
Loaded carries greatly improve your movements under loads and they enhance both balance and coordination. Carrying heavy dense objects has a tremendous impact on sports and tactical training and a good deal of mental determination and focus are required to manoeuvre with these objects.
A lot of athletes can become very one-dimensional in their movement patterns. Their training can sometimes result in stagnation and regression. Including loaded carries in their training program provides them with a great way to add non-linear movements. These additions help keep the mind and body sharp and ready.
Improves Work Capacity
Loaded carries are fantastic for improving both muscular endurance and mental endurance. The added bonus is that carries do this without sacrificing muscle and strength. They can be done with light to moderate loads for prolonged periods of time, or much heavier loads for shorter periods of time. Both protocols can be used to increase muscular performance and work capacity for strength and power athletes.
SOME RULES TO FOLLOW
Loaded Carries may be technically simple, but that doesn’t mean that they should be approached lightly. They command respect and a focused approach. By focusing on form, you will reap the benefits.
Keep Shoulders Tight
Whether you’re holding the load at your sides, overhead, or anywhere in between, keep your shoulders as tight as possible to improve joint stability.
Keep your lower back and pelvis aligned throughout the carry.
Squeeze and Grip Hard
A tight grip increases tension in your core muscles.
Keep your steps Tight and Light
A shorter stride, approximately 12 inches apart, will provide you with a stronger support base.
Carries are essentially a self-limiting exercise. This means that any weight that you can hold for distance or time is safe to use.
LOADED CARRY VARIATIONS
There are basically four types of carries, and each will challenge your body in different ways. For variety and maximum stimulus, making sure you hit all four categories as often as possible.
BETWEEN YOUR KNEES
Holding a heavy load between your legs works your glutes harder.
Hold a kettlebell in each hand between your legs. Or cup the top end of a dumbbell and let it hang between your legs at knee height.
Because you can use such heavy weights, these build insane total-body strength.
Hold a dumbbell, kettlebell, hex/trap bar or farmer carry handles at each side. Grip tightly.
Hold a weight, dumbbell, kettlebell, or anything you can hold on one side. Swap and walk for the same distance or time with the other side loaded.
These variations are especially taxing on your hamstrings and biceps.
Hold a loaded barbell close to your chest in the crook of your elbows. Keep your core braced and your back straight throughout.
Wrap both arms around a sandbag, weight plate, or large stone/rock. Or hold a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell just as you would do for a goblet squat.
Holding weight overhead challenges your core and builds shoulder stability.
Hold one or two dumbbells or kettlebells, a sandbag or a loaded barbell directly over your shoulders. A slosh pipe is also an excellent implement to use for added shoulder and core stabilization.
Hold a kettlebell upside down, your upper arm parallel to the floor and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Squeeze the handle tight.
I am of course biased; my favourite exercise is a loaded carry. They are my favourite because of their functionality and transferability. In the world of strength, power, and athleticism, coaches and athletes have an abundance of exercises, reps schemes, and methodologies to choose from.
Loaded carries are among the best total body strength, core stabilization movements you can do to gain muscle, get stronger, and move better. That is a lot of bang for your buck.
Strongman, Powerlifters, Power Athletes and Highland Games Athletes have been performing heavy and timed loaded walks and carries for years.
You should take the time to build these simple and highly beneficial movements with randomized objects and loads throughout warm-ups, working sets, and varied training days to stimulate new growth and development.