Have you ever seen somebody carrying two dumbbells in their hands walking or seen somebody carrying two dumbbells with their arms up in the gym?
Basil Poledouris – Battle of Mounds in “Conan the Barbarian”
If you have, you’ve witnessed a variation of an exercise called loaded carries. So you might be wondering what are loaded carries and as always that’s a good question. Let me tell you about it.
It’s when a person carries or picks up an object and walks with it for a certain distance or time. In anatomical terms, it refers to the human gait pattern with an additional load that is pushed, carried, or pulled.
So, when you saw it, you may have thought “What are they doing it, what does that do?”, “That looks interesting”, “That looks stupid” or “That looks easy”.
On the other hand, you may have never heard of them or have seen them done before or even both.
Nonetheless, they can be performed with various objects ranging from kettlebells, plates, chains, a workout bench, barbells, sandbags, and stones etc. Pretty much anything you can carry while walking is a loaded carry. There are unlimited variations to doing these, so your mind is your only limitation.
Why Have I Not Seen These Or Heard Of These “Loaded Carries”?
Most people don’t know what a loaded carry is. I didn’t know what a loaded carry was until I was 24 years old. The only variation I knew at the time was an over head barbell carries, plate carries and farmer walks.
It’s unfortunate that many people don’t perform them. They offer so many benefits. Most people’s routines consist of bodybuilding splits with machines, free weights or calisthenics that attack 1 – 4 muscle groups.
However, when it comes to doing loaded carries there’s no way to “fit” it in because you’re working nearly your whole body.
So that confuses people, and another reason is it’s not as glamorous as working the show muscles for a lot of people. Also to some people, it “looks” easy or when someone does it, it kicks their ass and they don’t want to do it again.
Overall, I believe it’s due to people not being educated about them and it’s not as widely promoted as training with free weights and machines.
Why Should I Carry Heavy Ass Weights
You might be thinking now ” Alright Larentay, that’s cool and all but what are the benefits of doing these”. I’m glad you asked, I love curious minds.
The reason why you should do them it because it practically enhances overall body performance such as athleticism, your less injury prone, and you gain strength that’s transferable to everyday life activities.
You don’t have to be an athlete to benefits from this. Anybody from every walk of life can and should do these especially for the badass points.
I have all my clients do loaded carries,90% of the time in all of their workouts and myself included in my training routine. Because they’re just that effective for enhancing strength, conditioning(cardiovascular health) and torching fat.
Think of this, back in the 20th century to the beginning of mankind before all the technological advances that have made a lot of people soft and overweight.
Loaded carries were part of life on a daily basis(carrying buckets of water, fresh kill, supplies for building etc) that kept people conditioned and physically strong.
So I’m going to list 11 reasons why you should do these whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, preparing for a competition, looking for something “new” or trying to rehabilitate yourself etc.
Why Loaded Carries Will Make You A Badass
It’s “different” and it’s “unique” in a sense because it’s not done by the average to even elite gym goers.
When you do loaded carry variations you will be humbled since it challenges you differently than doing cardio, using the machines or free weights for resistance.
By you doing these, it will provide freshness and you will forge a more powerful body with superior exercises that are simple but challenging than most “new” exercises that are inferior. Plus you’ll look badass carrying heavy objects.
2. Fat Destroyer:
They’re super time efficient for destroying fat within in a limited time. You’re burning a lot of calories due to it being anaerobic and aerobic. And the best reason for why it’s great for burning fat is because long after exercise you are still burning calories due to a thing called EPOC(excess post oxygen consumption).
In a laymen terms, when you complete high-intensity training such as anaerobic training. Our bodies go into an aerobic mode for recovery behind scenes.
- Re-synthesis of stored phosphocreatine
- Replacing muscle and blood oxygen stores
- Elevated heart rate and breathing, increased energy need
- Elevated body temperature, increased metabolic rate
- Elevated epinephrine & norepinephrine, increased metabolic rate
- Conversion of lactic acid to glucose (gluconeogenesis)
These are the cool things we want happening when comes burning excess fat.
3. Super Applicable Transference of Strength To Everyday Life:
Personally, I believe having bigger arms, bigger legs, a big chest etc is functional strength. Because it’s going to allow you to lift, push, carry more weight and your less injury prone. The list could go on and on.
However, the strength transference from loaded carries develops a different kind of functional strength. Such as balance, better coordination, athleticism, load capacity for carrying light to heavy things for long distances, and grip ping strength etc. These are all fundamentally important for keeping strength at maximum capacity for aging gracefully.
4. Build Bullet Proof Shoulders:
Most people trained their shoulders in dynamic rotator cuff exercise variations. Which isn’t a bad thing, however with loaded carries the rotator cuff muscles don’t rotate the humerus into the external and internal rotation. Their sole purpose is to reflexively contract to properly position and stabilize the head of the humerus in the shoulder socket.
Doing exercises such as waiter carries, bottom up carriers or side carry holds help achieve the purpose and strengthen internally and externally.
Loaded carry variations require simplicity, yeah, of course, there is technique involved. Nonetheless, the learning curve is quick. I teach loaded carries to potential clients to clients ranging from age 15 – 70’s and they all pick up it within 2 – 3 sets compared to doing exercises with barbells, dumbbells, and machines.
I don’t know about you but when your teaching anybody how to use barbells, kettlebells, and dumbbells. You have to be patient when comes to teaching since there is a learning curve. Especially if they’re a beginner.
However, with carries, you have to be careful about not doing too much. That’s the only con to the simplicity of doing these.
Loading carries are not only great for improving your strength but also conditioning. Doing loaded carry variations for long distance will have your muscles on fire and your heart going light speed to get blood to your muscles as you gasp for air to breathe.
7. Improves Posture:
Carries, force you to have an impeccable posture like a trained soldier or model. Because if you don’t you will hurt your back. So it’s either stay erect or break.
So these are great for improving your posture if it’s bad, these are especially great for maintaining posture as you age. I see a lot of older people as they get older, people that have desk jobs, people who look down at their phone excessively etc have poor posture and carries can rectify that or help with that.
8. Variety Options:
The variety and combinations of what you can do are limitless. You can start with light weights to heavy weights depending on your conditioning level. Hell, you can even make up your own variations. And what’s cooler than making up your own exercises….exactly.
9. Loaded Carries Are Something “New”:
If gyms, people are always looking for something new or variety when it comes to working out. Very few people can monotonous workout for months just varying the rep ranges and sets. The funny thing is that most people fail to realize is that most “new” exercises are either not new (i.e. simply forgotten and then “re-discovered”) or totally inferior to old-school exercises.
Loaded Carries are the remedy to “newness” and as a trainer. When I have my clients do these, they have a love and hate relationships because it’s something fresh and challenging in a different way.
10. Bone Crushing Grip Strength:
You will develop immense grip strength. Most people don’t realize or think about this but if your grip is strong. It will allow you to pull, press, curl or hold on to heavy weight. If your grip isn’t up to par with your muscles or beyond them then it can limit your strength development.
So by doing loaded carries in doing various holds such as gripping, squeezing, pinching, or holding the weight with your fingers. You will overall develop hand strength and dexterity = immense hand and forearm strength.
Loaded carries are low technical, meaning they’re easy to do and theirs a low risk of getting hurt compared to doing advanced exercises with barbells, dumbbells, machines, and kettlebells.
I hope you guys found this article informative on the benefits of loaded carries and you’ll give them a shot. If already doing them, then awesome. Stay tuned for more post over loaded carries and anything fitness, and nutrition related.
Until next time,
– Larentay Walker
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