Loaded carries are very popular amongst athletes, here are the reasons why.
The 10 Benefits of Loaded Carries for Strength:
Loaded carries are exercises that involve the act of carrying a weight over distance, a common example in strongman events would be the farmers walk to see who can complete a certain distance the quickest. Basically you carry something heavy and just start walking with it.
Farmers and those that have done manual labour for extensive periods are known for having freakish and almost odd levels of strength when you start grappling with them.
They also somehow are a lot more useful than a jacked bodybuilder when it comes to picking random objects off the floor!
Besides hauling hay and wildly resisting pigs over the fences, loaded carries are their secrets.
Loaded Carries has the following benefits:
1. Trunk Stabilization: Holding heavy weights as you travel over distances will force your stabilizing muscles working at its maximum.
2. Muscle Mass Increase: The time under tension alone will force your body to grow. The yoke walk and farmers walk is known for being a major overall mass builder.
3. Fat loss: Loaded carries are simply tough to do. You burn a lot of calories during the process. They engage the entire body and work the heart/lungs.
4. Unilateral Strength: Doing farmers walk with weight on just one side, for example holding a single kettlebell will fix and reveal your body's strength imbalances. You will feel your obliques and areas that are commonly not worked in the gym.
5. Grip Strength: This one is obvious, hanging on is the issue. There is no reason to wear straps when doing farmers walks.
6. Overhead Strength: Overhead walks build strength from head to toe and the shoulder stability you gain will transfer across your usual overhead lifts. Unilateral overhead walks are very challenging as well.
7. Carry over across big compound lifts: Lifters who spend time with loaded carries always report back saying it got their main lifts such as squats and deadlifts up. This should come as no surprise as these are very trunk heavy movements, grip strength you build will also definitely give you a bigger pull.
8. Beginners: Loaded carriers are very user friendly, there is no eccentric phase (Downward phase of a lift, which tends to create the most stress and soreness. Depending on your goals and training frequency this may not be an optimal response). It is a lot more repeatable for beginners. Doing it multiple times a week is very doable and helps to increase the general conditioning level for a beginner without them getting too sore to continue the next day. Hence why loaded carries are used in a lot of GPP (General Physical Preparedness) programs. They also get a lot of work done without realizing as taking a weight from one distance to another provides a type of visual goal for them to go after.
9. Mobility and injuries:> With people who struggle with mobility issues due to age, injury or physical conditions, loaded carries help them train their entire body without overly taxing their joints. With some adjustments, you can always hold some weight and walk with it. For an injured person this speeds up their rehab process as they can get back to working the desired muscle groups without affecting the range of motion too much and still be flushing blood into the area to assist the healing process. If they can't run, they can always walk.
10. Fits well with Kettlebell training: Rack walks are great to do and will improve your pressing strength. Simply clean a pair or a single kettlebell that you can't press just yet and walk with it, it will be very tough and you probably can't go that long of a distance. Your usual pressing weight will go up as you get used to this type of overloaded rack walk. Also, doing farmers walk across distance and immediately switching to a dynamic exercise like a swing makes great combination training. If you can't work with a pair of heavy kettlebells just yet but still would like to incorporate it into your training, simply do farmers walk with it for time and pick up the lighter kettlebells afterwards for your other exercises. You will find that the kettlebell exercise you follow up with will immediately feel lighter because you overloaded yourself via loaded carries with heavier weights.