Squatting, pulling, pushing, and lifting movements in the gym are all movements we do in training that replicate movements we do in everyday life.
Functional fitness in its most basic form.
Carrying shopping, children, furniture, your training partner through a workout are all ways in which we carry a load in our day-to-day activities, so why aren't loaded carries part of your training?
Let’s not overcomplicate things here, the movement is pretty self-explanatory. Pick up a heavy object, carry it around, and put it back down, however, we still need to make sure we are moving in a way that will benefit us in the long run.
Carries can be done with both hands, single-arm, overhead, or any kind of combination of those. The most common loaded carries you will see include; Farmers carries, Goblet carries, Bear hugs.
A trusty kettlebell or dumbbell work well for carries but want to up your carrying game?
Add in a strongman sandbag.
A Bear hug carry with a sandbag will work your core, your grip, and make you focus on your breathing too. Sandbags are often overlooked in training but are a versatile bit of kit that can really spice up your training.
Why are loaded carries so good?
They are a fairly simple way to work on your grip strength, core stability, shoulder strength, and scapula strength.
When we move and carry objects our body will automatically activate and our core will ‘switch on’ unless you are preparing for a heavy squat your core automatically activating is probably something you are not necessarily aware of.
As mentioned before, functional fitness is a big focus on training. And a loaded carry is working a simple movement pattern that we all do daily. Walking. By adding load to a carry increases awareness of our body’s movement in time and space - this is called proprioception. This increased body awareness will transfer to other training and sports such as weightlifting, gymnastics, football, and tennis.
Getting the basics right with a loaded carry is just as important as the first time you pick up the bar to start Olympic lifting. If we don’t start with a good movement pattern as we progress to heavier loads our movement pattern will start to fall apart and therefore increase the risk of injuries. Chest up, shoulders down, and back, and tuck your pelvis underneath you.
Carries are super simple to add into training and can be really effective, but make sure not to overdo them. It is easy to overlook the volume and the load as you can easily just think ‘it's just carrying something’ but don’t be fooled. If done properly loaded carries will leave you cursing them like an assault bike workout.
Points to consider when adding loaded carries into training:
A fixed distance or a set amount of time is the best way to calculate the volume for a carry.
Make sure you alternate between light, medium, and heavy load days. Heavy carries will improve strength, for endurance use lighter loads and move faster.
Include them in warm-ups, this is a great way to get your mind working (remember that proprioception we spoke about before!)
Mix them up. An overhead carry in one arm and a suitcase walk with the other. Get creative.
Treat loaded carries like any other variable in your training, mix it up, vary the volume and load, and work strength and conditioning.