Carry Your Way to A Stronger Core

Jacksonville Personal Trainer.  Jacksonville Fitness. Jacksonville Small Group Training.

In our quest to look good without our shirts on we oftentimes talk about our core.  We want it to be stronger.  We want it to look tighter.  We want all of our abs to be visible.

Most of us think our core is nothing but our abs.  We think it can be worked by doing planks for crunches.  While this is true, the six pack is only a small portion of the core.

The core is a much larger part of our body.  Imagine that your head, arms and legs suddenly fell off.  You’d look like a broken action figure, but what remains would be your core.  It includes your glutes, chest, lats, quadratus lumborum (lower back, it sounds less scary in latin),  traps, obliques and rectus abdominis (six pack). 

Working the core can be much more involved and rewarding than laying on a mat and lifting your chest towards the ceiling for 10 minutes.  There is much more primal and effective way to train the entire core to be stronger, more stable, rigid and athletic.

You can do all this by picking things up and not putting them down until you’ve walked with them.  Enter the Heavy Carry.  The Heavy Carry is a versatile addition to any core training or conditioning program.  There are countless variations available and below I will detail my favorite. 

Heavy Carries will challenge your abs and lower back in order to remain upright, your shoulders and forearms in order to keep a tight grip and your hips to rotate properly, or not rotate at all.  Put succinctly they are a torturous exercise that works nearly half of your body.

1.       Two Handed Carry or Farmer’s Walk: Utilizing kettlebells, dumbbells, weight plates, a loaded trap bar or two of your children.  Simply pick up a weight in each hand.  Stand up nice and tall and grip the weight as hard as you can.  From here you will simply walk a certain distance (10 yards is my general recommendation) and turn around and come back.  You’ll concentrate on keeping that upright, rigid posture throughout the walk with no swaying back and forth. 

The starting point for a Farmer's Walk using two weight plates.

The starting point for a Farmer's Walk using two weight plates.

2.       One Handed Carry or Suitcase Carry: Utilizing any of the forementioned tools.  You will pick up the thing with one hand, stand tall and grip tight.  This variation is going to force you to overcompensate with one oblique.  To remain upright, and not bend like a “C” you will need to concentrate on keeping the opposite oblique rigid and strong.  Once you walk the 10 yards you will either switch hands and turn back, or keep the weight in the same hand and start over again once you’ve switched hands.

The starting point for a suitcase carry.

The starting point for a suitcase carry.

3.       Overhead Carry or Waiter’s Walk: These are great for shoulder development.  You take the tool your choice and press it overhead.  From there you brace your core, and let your shoulder blades depress.  You then take your walk.

The starting point for an Overhead or Waiter's Carry.

The starting point for an Overhead or Waiter's Carry.

If you are looking to build a stronger core, shoulders, upper back and hips there is no better addition to your existing programming than Heavy Carries.  They can also help figure out and correct weakness along your kinetic chain, from shoulder injuries to pulled obliques.

The best part about Heavy Carries is that they require very little equipment and can be performed however you choose, there is no wrong way.  I hope you begin to include these conditioning juggernauts into your programming.