Which exercise do you think is the best for working on your core stabilization, muscle mass, and total body strength? If you say squats, you’d be almost correct. Squats (doing them with squat racks) will help build muscles and improve your core strength, but there is something even more effective and it’s called loaded carries.
As the name implies, a loaded carry is all about picking up something heavy and covering a short distance carrying it. While the exercise may look simple, make no mistake about the benefits it brings. There’s so much happening under the hood of this exercise Ferrari. You will be amazed once you know more about the wonders of loaded carries. Along with helping you develop strength and move better, loaded carries can help you in more ways than you could possibly imagine.
Top Reasons to Include Loaded Carries in Your Workout
When you want to improve your overall strength while muscle building, you need to select exercises that make your body perform as a complete unit. That’s exactly where loaded carries come in and help you become a better athlete. Here are some of the benefits associated with this form of exercise.
Muscle Building and Hypertrophy
Loaded carries and farmer’s walk have long been known as beneficial for strengthening muscles. They create extreme intensities of muscular tensions, especially in the upper back, and increase your flexibility for maintaining tensions for longer spans. Loaded carries is an ideal workout involving all the muscles of the body, tightening them eliminating the chances of developing hypertrophy.
This old age popular technique is used by athletes for building muscles and developing strength. Some famous strength coaches like Dan John, Brooks Kubik, Jason Ferruggia and Jimmy Smith included an effective variant of loaded carries in their coaching sessions.
Increases Work Capacity
Loaded carries and farmer’s walk increase muscle capability, competence and stamina. They make muscles stronger and get the body used to working hard and preparing you for long efficient working hours without tiring quickly.
Variations of loaded carries are essential parts of intense level training as in firefighter drills. They are helpful in training the mental capacities and conditioning of the trainees. It increases cardiovascular strength and the ability to breathe in low oxygen conditions since carrying loads on your back puts pressure on your stomach and chest and making breathing difficult.
Enhances the Performance of Central Nervous System
Loaded carries not only impact the physical health of a person but also play a significant role in enhancing the capabilities of the human brain.
Our Central Nervous System (CNS) is vital to arousing the state of flight or fight when you are in danger. This natural mechanism prepares the body to deal with emergency situations. It increases the blood pressure and heartbeat and decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain. It is this response that can cause some people to panic in situations of perceived danger.
Loaded carries increase the body stamina by training and desensitizing the CNS so that it doesn’t induce the flight and fight response in ordinary day to day situations. These workouts increase the maximum limit of the human body by gradually training the CNS.
Improves Body Balance and Posture
Loaded carries impact the feature of three essential structures of human body namely hips, spine and core. All these structures are responsible for maintaining body posture. If they are aligned correctly, you have perfect body balance. Being aligned incorrectly impacts negatively on erect posture and throws out the skeletal equilibrium of the body. Loaded carries help in stabilizing and maintaining these core structures.
Loaded carries and similar workouts, strengthen the shoulders. They increase the weight-bearing power of the shoulders and making them strong for lifting heavy masses which in turn increases the stamina for further intense abs workouts. You can combine overhead weight lifting with loaded carries to multifold its benefits.
One of the most evident benefits of loaded carries is that it strengthens and fortifies the hand grip. This makes hand muscles stronger and develops their ability to carry a heavy burden for long hours without getting tired easily.
Loaded carries are one effective workout regimes affecting all the muscles of the body such as abs, obliques, quadratus lumborum and hips all at the same time. This workout increases tensions in the core muscles of the body and helps them in retaining their ideal shape. This exercise is particularly helpful in toning and strengthening stomach muscles and attaining a flat belly. A strong core is essential for enhancing overall flexibility and toning different parts of the body.
Introducing Loaded Carries to Your Workout Routine
You may by now be realizing loaded carries deserves a prominent place in your workout routine. but before you rush to include it in your exercise routine it is important to know how to start and proceed in a safe yet productive way.
If you have never tried a loaded carry before, you need to start slow and prepare your body for the intensity of the loaded work you’re going to perform in the coming weeks. Just be sure to move slowly in the beginning.
Single-Leg Stand Variations
The most basic variation of loaded carries is to focus your body mass at one point while maintaining a neutral posture against the carries or external weight. It’s better to start with little weight and concentrate more on maintaining posture.
Single-Leg, Single-Arm Carries
In this variant, you maintain a neutral posture while carrying weight in one hand and standing on one leg. The key here is that the external weight does not touch your body. Now try lifting the weight to your waistline and then over to your head. Repeat and hold for half a minute at each level.
Single Dumbbell March
Walk with a dumbbell in only one hand. Here your focus should be on body balance with external weight kept only one side.
Once your body becomes familiar with a load, you can add more weight to the play and increase your movement to reap the amazing benefits of loaded carries.
Dynamic Single-Arm Carries
This variant is similar to the first progression but here the difference is that you walk with a weight on only one side of the body while maintaining a neutral body posture. Lift weight from one hand and balance it well on your wrist. You will know if you are successful if your body does not lean toward one side.
Third Progression: Two-Arm Carries
At this stage, you will be ready to include two-arm carries in your routine. There are various types of two arm carries:
Traditional Farmer’s Carries
The first and the foremost is the popular traditional farmer’s walk. Simply hold a weight in each of your hands and lock your arms and shoulders and walk. Remember to maintain the correct body posture and keep increasing the weight to continue enhancing your capacity.
This variation is tougher. It requires carrying a heavy dumbbell in one hand and a lighter one on your head. You need to move and maintain the erect posture of your body while balancing both weights.
In goblet carrying you don’t carry two separate weights instead only a single heavy dumbbell is needed which is lifted by two hands in goblet manner. Here the key is to keep the weight at a distance from the body instead of taking support from any other body parts. Maintaining neutral body posture whilst walking with the weight is very challenging.
Trap Bar Carry
Trap Bar carry is a variation of the traditional farmer’s carries. The only difference is that instead of restricting the weight at the initial level, it gives allows the carrier to choose to carry as much weight as he can.
Hanging Band Overhead Carry
This is one of the toughest variations. It requires trainees to carry weight on their hand but with additional weights hanging from the bands. Walking with the hanging weights is not at all easy and requires intense efforts from shoulder and back muscles. This loaded carry helps in strengthening shoulder muscles and creating shoulder stability.
This variation of loaded carries is similar to holding a heavy suitcase. It requires you to carry heavy weight at one side of your body and walk with it. Naturally, the body tends to bend to balance the weight but you have to resist this bend to its maximum.
The overhead from of loaded carries is one essential variety in almost all the popular workouts including squats and presses. Walking with weight overhead helps strengthen shoulder muscles and improves body balance and posture.
Yoke walk is the traditional load carries where you carry the weight on your back and walk with this weight on. Here maintaining posture is the one critical task. This posture, in particular, strengthens the backbone and spine.
Important Rules to Follow
As mentioned already, the concept looks simple – just pick something heavy and walk around with it. However, you need to pay attention to some important rules to ensure you experience the amazing benefits of this exercise without hurting yourself in the process.
- Keep your shoulders tight to stay safe. Without learning to pack your shoulders, you will not be able to improve joint stability, which can keep you from reaping maximum benefits.
- Keep your back straight to avoid injuries. Ideally, you should take loaded carries more as walking planks, which means your pelvis and lower back should stay in line throughout the exercise.
- Keep your grip as tight as possible. If you don’t maintain a tight grip, you will not be able to get most out of your core muscles, which is again going to keep you from performing optimally.
- Take shorter strides when moving with a heavyweight. It is a good idea to ensure your feet are no more than 12 inches apart. Stepping lightly will provide you with a stronger support base.
- Never crane your neck while carrying the weight, instead, tuck your chin while making sure your ears are right over your hips and shoulders. Keeping your spine aligned is the key to an injury-free lift and carry.
- Never let your ribs flare out or you will increase the risk of injury. You have to learn to keep your ribs as flat as possible, as it will save you from putting additional stress on your back. Focus on your breathing to keep your ribs in control – it will help improve your core strength, which is going to pay you when you want to carry heavy loads.
Understand that loaded carries have their benefits, but they don’t automatically improve movement quality unless you know how to proceed. No matter which loaded carry variation you try, they all require technical attention, so don’t go heavy from the word go and work on your technique first.
The facts are that no matter whether you’re striving hard to gain muscle or you’re simply working on your athleticism, it always makes sense to include loaded carries in your routine for better results. However, it is important to bear in mind that though the exercise looks simple, there is always room for error and with so much weight in your hands, even the smallest mistake can hurt you big time. So, always start slow and focus on your form to make loaded carries work in your favor.