One heavyweight addition to your workout arsenal can make you into the complete athlete, says Third Space Trainer Seb James
Weighted carries are a lost art. Gone are the days of lifting awkward hay bales, loading carts or carrying your hunting kill home. Obviously. And while I much prefer going to the supermarket to get my meat and working out in the gym instead of on a farm, in some way at least, our bodies are the poorer for it. Dare I say – we’ve grown a little soft?
Get out of your comfort zone and introduce weighted carries in the form of a farmer’s walks, partner carries, and yoke carries. Introduce them as an accessory to your usual gym work – a warm up or finisher, say – and they will prove a game changer for not only your health but your physical performance, too.
What’s The Good?
The difference between a carry and your standard bicep curl is its impact on your central nervous system (CNS). Unlike your muscles, it does not require being taken through set movement arcs. The CNS requires complex movement and coordination in order to progress and develop much-needed skills. By that I mean skills in breathing, bracing and developing experience under tension of progressively heavier loads – all of which combine to make your body both stronger and more robust as a whole.
In much the same way as compound moves beat out isolation exercises because they use multiple muscle groups and joints – carries teach your entire body to work together. Which is much more useful if you’re concerned with becoming a better athlete, not just the number of weight plates on your barbell.
Core and shoulder stability, another major boon of carry training, is vital to all lifts as well as everyday life. Too much time is taken training in a linear fashion, being protective of ones back or shoulders and actually breading deficiencies. Loaded carries can improve scapular positioning and stability as well as help to improve posture. Also included in these improvements is core stability and anti-rotation which will boost the power you can generate on the sports field. Not only that, they will safeguard your longevity by protecting your lower back and therefore ensuring long term mobility. You’ll be fitter right now, and fitter as you age, basically.
All of which are fairly compelling cases to upgrade your programme, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Master The Art
Carries can be included in your warm-up in order to activate your trunk, hips and, depending on the carry, shoulder girdle. Weighted carries in a warm-up needn’t be 100% effort – aim for 50% and set out a distance or set a time that will fire up your muscle fibres without smoking your grip or joints ahead of the impending workout.
They’re simple to do. Pick up a weight and carry it. There you go – you’re doing it! There are variations worth progressing to, like one-arm suitcase carries, which places more emphasis on your core, but stick to the regular garden variety to begin with. You know, like when you try and get the shopping from the car to the front door in one trip.
Once you’ve completed your workout, head back to the track and clear some room for final finisher carries. Now less thought can be given to exhausting grip and core. Now you can work at 75% of your max effort and really grit your teeth. Keep pushing until you feel your form go to enjoy a potent fat-burning boost at the end of your workout.
These lifts are not the be all and end all of a workout program, but an accessory, the cherry on top that can round off a good program into a great program and take your gains to the next level, in health, performance, and aesthetics.
The Warm-Up: Bottoms Up Kettlebell Carry
Hold a kettlebell upside down in one hand, your upper arm parallel to the floor and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Squeeze the handle tight and start walking. This light weight won’t tax your whole body, but is perfectly placed to wake up and activate your shoulder stabilisers ahead of a tough upper body workout. Try 3 sets of 20metres each way and prime yourself for an hour of push and pulls.
The Finisher: Zercher Walk
Hold a loaded barbell close to your chest in the crook of your elbows. Keep your core braced and your back straight throughout. This one isn’t technical – it’s all about get up and go. It will tax your entire body for maximum calorie burn at the end of your workout. Again, line out 20metres and go for an AMRAP EMOM. That’s a lot of letters, yes, but what it boils down to is walking the 20metres and back at the start of the minute. Use the rest of the minute to rest and then go again when the next minute begins. And then keep going until you can’t finish the distance in a minute. Prepare to sweat.
See Them In Action
Nowhere will these moves be better exemplified than The Activeman Turf Games, hosted at Rosslyn Park. While the confines of your gym may not allow for atlas stones and tyre flips, on June 9th 350 recreational athletes will be put through their paces in London’s big fitness throwdown. Teams will be pitted against three workout arenas, one of which will be devised and marshalled by the expert trainers from Third Space, to see who comes out on top. And you can be sure teams will have to contend with plenty of weighted carries, weighted vests, rope climbs and monkey bars on their way to victory.
And though tickets to enter a team are now sold out, there are spectator spaces available to come along and get a taste for the competition. And then it’s down to you to start training and prepare for the next event. Glory awaits.