Almost all exercises are beneficial in some shape, fashion, or form. If you are moving your body then you are doing something right. With that said there are a handful of exercises that have so much goodness in them that they should be included in nearly any Boise personal trainers human exercise plan. These exercises simply carry more bang for their buck.
One of these “big bang for the buck” exercises is the loaded carry. If somebody asked me, “if you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?” I would be hard pressed to find a better answer than loaded carries. If you are not currently doing loaded carries as part of your fitness routine let me convince you why you need to start.
First I will go into a brief description of what a loaded carry is and then I will give you several different loaded carry variations. If you have never done loaded carries, great, you have a powerful exercise to add to your fat burning, lean muscle building, look good in the mirror making arsenal.
Weighted carries are just what they sound like carrying something with weight. The type of weight and the type of carry matters less than picking up something, wearing something, or wo(man)handling something as you move. A comment our Boise personal trainers often hear when weighted carries are part of the workout is, “what is this working?” or “where should I feel this?”
The answer is, everything and everywhere. Although, depending on the type of carry, specific parts of your body may be stressed more than others, you are working your entire body from head to toe with weighted carries. Weighted carries not only help burn fat and strengthen your body, but they also help to increase body coordination and stabilization as well as being one of the most functionally transferable exercises to your normal life that you can do. For example, when you are trying your best to make only one trip from the car to the kitchen with your twenty bags of groceries it is your weighted carries in the gym that will allow this to happen.
So let’s summarize before we get into a few weighted carry variations. Weighted carries are one of the best personal training exercises you can do for nearly any fitness goal from general fitness to elite level fitness. As Crossfit would say, farmers’ carries can help to “Forge Elite Fitness” or not depending on what your goals are, but they can definitely help you move, play, and feel better. Second, loaded carries are simply the act of carrying something with weight. Third, if you are a human you should be doing them. Okay, let’s take a look at a few loaded carry variations.
A few variations of carries are as follows.
One-Sided Farmer Carry or One-Sided Suitcase Carry.
Grab a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, weight plate, or sandbag in one hand and go for a stroll. The heavier the weight the shorter the stroll and the lighter the weight the longer the walk. Challenge yourself to walk a little further or pick up a little heavier weight every workout. Even better is to mix and match with heavy and light days and long and short days. It will be fun you will see.
Two-Arm Farmer Carry or Two-Arm Suitcase Carry
The two-sided carry is just like the one-sided carry except you carry a weight in each hand. Grab two objects of your choosing and walk.
The carries where the weights are held in a vertical position that rely heavily on grip strength are going to be limited by grip strength. On one hand (he-he, get it one “hand”?) this is great because they increase your grip strength and on the other hand grip strength is a limiting factor and thus the rest of the body may be getting short changed because it can’t be loaded enough to elicit an effect. This is one of the reasons we want to vary the type of loaded carries we do. We want to be fair in our working of the entire body and every weighted carry has its limitations and strengths.
A way to get around the grip strength issue is to not use grip strength. There are several ways to do this. Let’s look at a few loaded carry variations that do not rely on grip strength now.
Barbell or Yolk Carry
Put a barbell across your traps (the muscles that go from your neck to your shoulder and down your back) as if you were going to do a high-bar squat, step out of the rack and go for a walk. The barbell carry allows you to significantly load your body without the grip strength limitations. With this carry your body is going to be taxed more overall because of the increase in load, but you will get no grip strength work. If you happen to have access to a yolk for this carry use that instead of a barbell as it is safer. The yolk carry will get you yoked!
Grab whatever tool you would like to use, hoist it overhead, and walk. This loaded carry removes the grip strength limitations, but adds a shoulder and arm strength limitation. Again, this is positive and negative. It is positive because this type of carry works the vertical pressing muscles (arms, shoulders, and core) without taxing grip strength. It is negative because the rest of your body is likely to not be loaded as heavy as it could when compared to a yolk or barbell carry. To do an overhead loaded carry well you will need to ensure you have good shoulder mobility in order to keep the weight in an overhead locked out position with the arms vertical otherwise this carry will be for a very short distance and could be damaging to the shoulder joint.
Let’s take a look at odd object weighted carries. Odd objects are just things that are not normally seen in your everyday big box gym environment (although some big box gyms are starting to catch on to the usefulness and trend of these weight lifting and personal training tools). These are things like boulders, chains, pianos, refrigerators, etc. Basically, any object that is not generally used for weight training. Here are a few examples of odd object weighted carries.
Boulder or Rock Carry
Find a boulder or rock that you can pick up and hold in a bear hug position. Pick up the boulder or rock and hold it in a bear hug position while walking. According to Boise personal trainers this movement is challenging mentally and physically. Boulders are not shaped in a way to be carried and often dig into your arms in ways that are significantly less comfortable than a pillow and the mental fortitude to push through and take each step is in equal parts as tremendous as the boulder you are hanging on to for dear life. Some people may prefer to stick with bear hugging their pillow instead of boulders. Your call.
There is an ancient story of Milo and the bull. This story is the way that most Boise personal trainers learn progressive overload. Milo had a calf that he would pick up and carry every day (loaded carry) for four years. As the calf grew Milo’s strength also grew (progressive overload). Eventually the calf was a bull and Milo carried that sucker to town on his shoulders. Whether you think this story is all bull or not makes no difference because the meaning of it is solid. Be like Milo and get yourself a calf to carry every day. See if you can get to the point where you are able to carry a bull. We need some shirts that say, “Be Like Milo.”
If you aren’t into carrying livestock that’s cool or other weird, shaped objects that’s cool, we have other options for loaded carries. However, there is something mentally and physically challenging about odd shaped loaded carries that works you in a way nothing else can. Give it a try and you will most definitely regret that you did, but you also might like it in a weird you feel like chewing your arm off when you are stuck in a bear trap to save your life sort of way.
Okay, well let’s look at a few other forms of carries that will tickle your fancy and burn some fat while building lean sexy muscle.
Remember how I mentioned the lighter the weight the longer the carry and the heavier the weight the shorter the carry? Well, let me introduce you to the seemingly unthreatening (when compared with carrying a bull) weight vest. The weight vest is an exercise tool that I believe everybody should own. Everybody? Yes, everybody. Here is why. Weighted vests can be worn to make just about any movement more challenging and thus more beneficial.
Let’s look at walking as a prime example and also the movement I most frequently recommend utilizing a weighted vest for. Wait a minute, walking with a weighted vest sounds a lot like a loaded carry. Correct. However, weighted vests don’t get that heavy unless you custom make them, but we don’t need them to be super heavy as we want to walk with them for long periods of time to increase strength and endurance while burning extra calories doing a relatively easy exercise. You can put most weighted vests under your clothes and look less bulky than your local police officer. As a matter of fact, I have never had anybody ask me about my weighted vest even when wearing it all day, but this may have more to do with my resting “I have to go poop” face than the weighted vest, but I digress into potty humor. On a more serious note, the HyperWear Hyper Vest is the bee’s knees for comfort and discreteness for a weighted vest. Put it on in the morning under your clothes, go about your normal day and viola you did a loaded carry ALL DAY SON! Go you!
Okay, you don’t want to feel like you have the weight of the world on you all day long, fine. I have one more option for you, but I am going to warn you they are about as fun as elementary school gym class with a monkey on your back except in this instance you will be the monkey and the monkey on your back will be another person, weight vest, chains, or a resistance band.
Enter the crawling weighted carry. These carries are an advanced movement that you will most definitely need to work your way up to. First you must work your way into different types of crawls without weight. Once your wrists, ankles, and knees can handle your body weight for crawls like beast crawls, bear crawls, lateral traveling ape, and the like you can start thinking about adding weight and resistance. Crawling carries are brutally hard. You can load these carries symmetrically or asymmetrical, meaning the load is uneven making the carry all the more challenging. Here are a few examples of loaded crawling carries.
Beast Crawl with Resistance Band
A beast crawl is similar to a bear crawl. You will be on your hands and feet, but instead of having your butt elevated like you would in a bear crawl you will have your butt level with your shoulders (which looks more like a bear anyway). This crawl shifts the emphasis from the shoulder and arms (although you will still feel it there) to the upper back (scapular region) and quads (they will feel like they are being barbecued). You first want to master this crawl without bodyweight.
The biggest issue Boise personal trainers deal with when introducing these to clients is wrist strength and the second biggest issue is getting people to crawl with an opposite arm opposite leg gate. If it is too challenging with bodyweight, then you can start with a baby crawl or a beast position hold. A baby crawl is exactly what the name implies. Crawling like a baby. A beast hold is where you do a static hold in the beast position. Once you are ready to add resistance you will use a resistance band wrapped around your back held in your hands. The lower you have the band positioned on your back the more challenging the movement is for your core and quads. The higher you have the band positiong on your back the more challenging it is for your shoulders and upper back. Pick your preferred area of focus or mix it up and get to crawling!
If there was one exercise everybody should do on a regular basis it would be loaded carriers. There is no other movement that works so many different aspects of the body. Loaded carriers have so many different variations that it is nearly limitless the exercises you can come up with. Doing loaded carries will improve your cardiovascular strength, muscular endurance, mental fortitude, core strength, muscle synergy, and grip strength. Along with the aforementioned Boise personal trainers improvements loaded carries will also burn loads of calories and improve your physique. The thing that is cool about loaded carries is you can scale them to your current fitness level and desired goals. The other cool thing is you don’t need a gym to do them. Get your loaded carry on!