Loaded carries have become very popular in the American fitness industry over the last five years. Many trainers, especially at Fitness Quest 10, have started implementing this exercise into their client programs for the many benefits they offer.
Before I discuss the benefits of the loaded carry, I must first define what a loaded carry is. A loaded carry can be defined as a person moving any type of load (i.e. weight, bar, heavy med ball, person, sled, etc.) in a certain position (i.e. overhead) for a certain distance or time. The amount of time and distance is contingent on the specific goal of the person doing the carry. Now that we understand the meaning of the carry, lets go over the five main benefits a person gets from the loaded carry:
1. Increase work capacity: carrying a weight can aid in increasing one’s ability to do more work. The more work one can do, the more calories one burns. This ultimately can lead to an increase in weight room performance and in fat loss, two goals many clients have when working out.
2. Maintain spine health: anytime a specific exercise can aid in injury prevention then it is smart to use it in training. In the case of the loaded carry, research has shown the carry can improve the condition of people with low back disorder. Low back pain can be attributed to such factors as lack of development of the muscles in your trunk (between knees and chest) and prolong sitting (think of people who have a desk job for a living). Carrying a load works on developing the trunk muscles and on postural awareness, two things many people lack.
3. Variety: lets me honest, many clients get bored doing the same exercises week in and week out. Lack of variety or boredom when working out is one reason why some people quit going to the gym or train with their trainer. The beauty about loaded carries is there is much variety you can do. You can carry a weight overhead or chest level. You can carry one kettlebell or two. You can carry one weight above the shoulder while simultaneously carrying another weight below the waist. So many options allow one to avoid boredom and enjoy this exercise for a long time.
4. Easy learning curve and safe: people like to be competent in what they are doing. Loaded carries are easy to learn and execute correctly. Although there are basic cues one needs to follow, carrying a load is a rather simple task. Therefore, whether someone is brand new to training or is very experienced, both can start doing carries NOW. In addition to an easy learning curve, carrying a weight is relatively safe. The risk becomes a little more when you start carrying weight overhead. However, overhead carries are rather advance and the majority of your carries are done below the head.
5. Increase athletic performance: for all you athletes, listen closely. Implementing carries into your programs can aid in athletic development. Loaded carries done correctly allows you to develop transfer of power, an important attribute in developing overall acceleration and explosiveness. Carries teach you how to utilize all the power an athlete generates on the field or court with certain movements and not let it dissipate due to energy leaks (trunk muscles not being activated). Furthermore, carries can aid in frontal plane stability at the hip and trunk which is important to have in a sport that requires change of direction (i.e. football) in order to be successful.
One bonus benefit of loaded carries is it’s real life application. There is not a day that goes by where a person does not pick up something and carries it to another location. Whether it is a student carrying a backpack at school or a mom carrying her baby, carries are done on a daily basis in our lives. Therefore, one should be proficient at carrying a load.
Loaded carries are a great exercise for the above reasons. If they are not part of your training regimen start including them in your workout. You can do them as part of a warm up or as part of your conditioning. Either way, you will feel better about your performance and overall physical health.
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