Carries are often underutilized or neglected in fitness programs. They offer a tremendous amount of value when it comes to our overall strength and fitness and can be done in a variety of methods.
With carries, we can vary the loading and distances as well as the way the object loads our system – on the spine, in the front rack, unilaterally, etc.
The benefits come largely with midline stability, grip strength, and even conditioning.
The posterior chain (or back half of your body) is taxed in a way that most other lifts don’t provide. When working unilaterally we build balance and awareness and depending on the variation, shoulder stability. We aren’t only recruiting the larger muscles, but also the smaller ones in order to help stabilize, balance, and keep things moving in the right direction when we are doing a variety of walks. Athletes that have good strength with some of the more traditional lifts may struggle with some of these variations simply due to the lack of exposure to them.
In many cases adding these things into an already existing strength program, roughly 3 days/week, will yield fast results! People can build muscle mass, decrease fat depending on the duration of work, and improve their overall strength.
Barbell and dumbbell work is outstanding and we love to do our fair share of that too. But the reality is that most things we bump into in the real world, everyday life, aren’t in the shape of a perfectly milled 7’ piece of steel with knurling on it, or a dumbbell that was crafted for moving in a fitness routine. Most things are odd, awkward, and difficult to move. Having a base level of strength with a traditional object is a killer starting point, but we will see a more well rounded, strong, and capable athlete when a variety of carries are added in. And those odd objects won’t seem so odd anymore.