I often look for things to blog about, usually inspiration comes to me in the form of some event or a truth I want to share with my fellow man. Today’s post was a bit different while I was doing some chores around the house, this idea came to me. As a lighting bolt or a mountain top experience(get it I am named Moses) may I say in regards to this that inspiration doesn’t have a healthy respect for me it will often interrupt things such as sleep and things that need to be done. Of course I as sheep continue to march to it’s drum, because I know that I need it’s assistance to write anything worthwhile. That is enough with that rant for now; let’s move on with today’s post.

Today’s writing is about what some would call the sixth human movement: loaded carries. Loaded carries are probably the simplest exercise in the tool kit of the effective trainer. However do not take simplicity for an ineffective exercise or something that is not “hardcore”. That is a mistake that we make in fitness oftentimes we judge an exercise by it’s looks to deem it functional or worthwhile. A better thing to do would be to look up any research that there may be on the movement and experience it for ourselves. As the old adage says “don’t knock it till you try it”!


 The loaded carry has plenty of scientific and experiential backing in fact the great Stuart Mcgill studied them and concluded that they are Freaking sweet.(not a direct quote) He showed by EMG how loaded carries work the core as no other and keep high loads of spinal compression at bay, look it up if you do not believe me. Also the loaded carry missing from a program can make the strength program less effective than it could be, in developing a better athlete or fitness buff.

                    ( Coach Mark doing rack carries)

Now that I have done my mandatory sales pitch on the loaded carry. We can now discuss how to do them and their variations and progressions. First and foremost you will need to pick your form of resistance you can use dumbbells barbells or kettlebells. My opinion is to use kettlebells because they work for all of the tiers of this movement.

First is the farmers walk: This is done by grabbing two kettlebells ( or dumbells) and placing them by your legs with a “hook” grip. Now make sure your head is neutral and your shoulders packed. Brace your abs as if you were about to be socked by powerlifter Kirk Karwoski and walk while maintaining good posture, one of my clients wisely named these “charm school” because it’s posture teaching ability.  The next step in the progression is to simply do this move with one bell to the side and resist leaning towards the bell, that is called the suitcase carry.

If you have spent a good amount of time on the farmers walk and suit case and you have a good handle on it’s technique let’s take the next step. That simply would be to put the bell in the”rack” as my friend Mark has them in the picture above. With these I would start in reverse and do a single side load to deal with asymmetries and learn how to do the Kb clean to get both bells up. In the process of doing these you learn about your asymmetries i. e. you can’t do one side for as long as the other. So you will want to work on that until it is evened out and then move on into double rack carries.

Overhead carries/ bottoms up carries: If you have good shoulder mobility and stability you will want to move on to overhead or waiters walks. This progression as the others has you maintain the same alignment of the body, (core and glutes tight Etc.) but the bell will be held over head with a packed shoulder and a locked elbow. The guideline for these is simply to do it as long as you can keep you form perfect then you can break and or go down into the rack or a suitcase walk. The bottoms up carry is by far the most difficult to master, but yields the highest rewards as far as core goes and trains your grip very well. You can do this exercise by cleaning the bell up in a bottoms up position in the rack, keeping total tension in the abs and glutes. Then you will simply walk with bell in that position. You will find that it is simple but not easy!  Problems with this step usually stem out of a lack of position so if you have an imbalance then check your technique and make sure everything is lined up. That should fix any issues with holding the bell on both sides.

Carries are an awesome exercise. Unfortunately they are not often utilized in a program and that is a sad fact. So do carries and if you wander when and where to put them in place them in as a super set with pushups or planks or rack carries and deadlifts and so on use your imagination friends! Just do them and as you go on and develop in them you can begin to safely utilize sleds an even combine carries with sleds. As always work your way through the progressions and earn the next movement.  Enjoy the pain friends, as you do!

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