As I mentioned in 5 Best Movements for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, loaded carries are the unsung heroes of sports performance not only because it provides constant tension, but it also builds unbreakable mental strength. This is why the loaded carry is the military’s favorite tool for exercise and discipline.
Constant tension is a large component to gaining quality muscle. ( for more on this see King T.U.T. - The Only Lifting Principle You Need to Build Quality Muscle) It builds mental strength because it's so easy to drop the weight and call it quits. Just set it down right here and take an extra break. But what about one more step? Pushing through the “want” to quit and finding the will to finish. The difference between want and need should be clearly defined when setting goals. How bad do you “want” to be better? This is where you have to tell your body that you're not done.
This comes up a lot in Jiu-Jitsu, as well as all areas of life. One of my favorite ways to tap people in Jiu-Jitsu is to break them mentally. Once they get tired all you have to do is put them in a bad position, cook 'em for a little bit, and wait for them to give up. Sometimes you don't even have to threaten with a submission, just maintain a tight control. This may sound mean spirited and cold, but it helps them to build the will to survive and teaches them the difference between discomfort and pain. This can also come up throughout any endeavor in life. Many individuals begin working out only to realize that their chosen journey, (whether it's weight loss, weight gain, etc) is a long hard road and the short cuts may come with side effects. Few have the mindset to become a success story, but that is why everyone loves success stories. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
Loaded carries are a great way to break through the plateau and add some variation to any program. The key to programming carries lies heavily on variation. There are many different variations, but some of the more popular ones are the farmer carries, overhead carries, single shoulder carries, and firemen carries.
Farmer Carry - The farmer carry is performed by carrying weights in each hand at the waist like carrying buckets. I prefer using kettlebells because of the thicker handles to add tension to the grip.
Overhead Carry - This can be used together with a barbell or sandbag or independently with kettlebells or dumbbells. This will add tension to the midsection and shoulders.
Single Shoulder Carry - This should be performed with a sandbag or punching bag (something soft). This exercise loads the weight onto one shoulder for half of the walk and weight must be switched to opposite shoulder to even the workload. *Use proper technique to load weight and use a weight that you can keep your shoulders somewhat level.*
Firemen Carry - The firemen carry is a great exercise for group training. One partner drapes across the others shoulders and holds on. The carrier must balance and control the weight as they walk. The load is somewhat uneven, so it's best to switch sides halfway through the walk before switching partners.*Use proper technique to load partner and ensure that the partner being carried balances their weight keep the carriers shoulders somewhat level.*
Loaded carries can be performed two ways: light for long distance or heavy for short distance. I prefer the latter; I'm not a huge fan of Long, Slow, Distance (LSD) training. I'd much rather pick up the heaviest thing I can and get a couple hundred feet in than load up a 60 lbs rucksack for a hike.
Mobility Warmup 5 mins
Front Loaded Squat:
Zercher Squat 4 x 6-10 2 mins rest
CG Landmine Row 3 x 12-16 90 secs rest
Single KB RDL 2 x 12-16 each side 2 mins rest
Double Kb Roman DL 2 x 12-16 2 mins rest
Bear Hug Carry 2 laps 30secs rest
Single Shoulder Carry 2 laps each side 30secs rest
Farmer Carry 2 laps 30 secs rest
5 mins mixed crawls slow and controlled
Easy into cool down from crawls to stretches
Music: Fort Minor - Remember The Name
Cardiovascular activity is one of the major changes that take place in aging adults. The decrease in cardiac output of the heart causes a decline in the amount of oxygen rich blood that reaches the muscles in a single pump; this is also called stroke volume. This also reduces muscular ability and can often lead to a decrease in bone density. Much of this decline, however, is due to living a sedentary lifestyle and is not a factor of aging. Studies have shown that gaining or maintaining an active lifestyle and fitness routine can slow down and even reverse the signs of aging.
The difficult part of any cardiovascular exercise is finding your proper intensity level. Generally speaking, one should exert to the point of not being able to speak with a normal pattern or sing a song, but not to the extent of struggling to convey a short phrase. This is a great indicator for cardio training, but does not necessarily apply to resistance training. Resistance training intensity is usually measured within the days following a training day. While some muscle soreness is to be expected, intense muscle pain or any joint pain is not normal.
The two main training intensities to improve cardiopulmonary function are moderate and high intensity. Maximum heart rate (MHR) is a base line used to determine the intensity an individual should use as a starting point. While other factors, such as activity level, medication, and medical conditions, can play a part in this as well, it is widely accepted that MHR can be found by the equation 220 – age. This means that a 20 year old individual will have a MHR of 200.
Moderate activity is classified as 55% to 69% of MHR and should be performed for 30 to 60 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week. High intensity exercise is classified as 70% to 89% of MHR. These can be performed for 15 minutes a day 3 days a week. This can be a good tool to use depending on the fluctuation of free time from day to day. Maybe someone has plenty of free time on Monday and Friday, but Wednesday is pretty busy. They could do a moderate activity on Monday and Friday and a shorter high intensity workout on Wednesday. They would still meet their requirements for the week.
A light warm-up should be performed prior to physical activity to lubricate the joints and slowly increase heart rate to prepare for exercise. Immediately follow the workout, take roughly 5 minutes to cool down. Walk around slowly or stand and stretch to give your heart time to slowly decrease back to a resting speed before completely stopping or sitting. This helps the heart recover as well as lowering body temperature and distributing blood out of the muscles and back into the organs for filtering and other metabolic processes.
As always, consult your doctor or cardiologist before beginning any exercise regimen.
“Strength is the product of struggle.” This is a favored quote among power lifters, but it also stands firm with functional fitness gurus in the same. Power lifters usually train for one specific lift, meaning they will set up their training routine around moving weight in one direction, usually up. Functional gurus, however, train to move themselves and weight in any direction with balance and speed. These training styles follow many of the same philosophies such as consistency, hard work, and will power; there are a few major differences. While pure power training is excellent for raw power, functional training is far more important for overall movement and quality of life.
Power training has always had a firm footing in every gym all around the world. In the late 1800s, Eugene Sandow started everything by moving heavy rocks around creek banks, and to this day, most gym-goers are only concerned about how much weight they can lift. Functional training actually began in rehabilitation clinics. Physical therapists designed some of the basic movements to help their patients with joint stability and muscular balance. This method was instantly picked up by athletic trainers and sports trainers to improve movement and minimize injuries in professional athletes.
Power athletes also lack two very important skills: mobility and flexibility. These are requirements for everyday life because human beings need to move and bend efficiently for smooth movement and injury prevention. Most competitions for power lifting require participants to complete one specific movement they have trained for, such as squat or bench press. Functional training exercises focus to provide full range of motion and body movement. By training for functional competitions, such as Martial Arts or obstacle course races and mud runs, improvement of everyday life is simply a side effect because every contestant moves through all ranges of motion efficiently to save energy for the next task.
There are practical uses of power training as well. Even though someone may be training for one exercise, the rest of the body will have to grow and strengthen somewhat to maintain a balance. This means that the body will get stronger as a whole but will only have full force in one track of movement. This can become a problem if the lifter gets off balance during a different motion; the rest of their body may not be strong enough to keep them from falling. Functional training, on the other hand, is to have strength in the full range of motion and control of balance during the process. In turn, this method makes the body much more efficient in everyday movement and even emergency situations where someone would have to be strong, balanced, and fast on their feet.
Power training and functional training seem to be so close yet so far away when broken down into movements and goals. Though they may share some of the physical and mental benefits of being physically fit, they are very different in their results and ways they are applied in life and competition. No matter which path is chosen, growing stronger makes everything easier.
"Lift to show, recover to grow." This is one of those sayings that get thrown around a lot in gyms and fitness facilities. The good news is that it is great advice, the bad news is that many of those who say this have no idea how to properly do either. The mainstream idea of recovery is stretch, rest, and protein. This is a very basic form of recovery and sometimes can be counterproductive depending on one's goals.
ACSM Certified Fitness Professional