5 Ways to Build Core Strength by Carrying Heavy Weights

The loaded carry is a basic human movements and should be a part of your training. To build a strong and stable core, implement these into your training.

A strong and stable core is essential for athletic performance and injury prevention. Without a stable core, athletes would not be able to express their full strength and power. Loaded carry variations are the perfect tool for training core stability and control.

Dan John, a big proponent of the carry, once wrote, "The loaded carry does more to expand athletic qualities than any other single thing I've attempted in my career as a coach and an athlete."

They are also one of the simplest exercises to teach or learn. Pick up a weight and go for a walk. That's all there is to it.

It is something we often do, from carrying loads of groceries into the house to carrying a child.

The simplest form off the loaded carry is the Farmer's Walk or the two ]-handed carry but the options are endless. Here are five variations to help you build a strong and stable core.

1. Suitcase Carry

Grab the weight in one hand and take a walk. The musculature on the contralateral side, and especially the obliques, will have to work to keep you from tipping over. Strive to maintain an inline spine and fight against the wait trying to bend you in half.

2. Front-Rack Offset Carry

This variation is typically done with a kettlebell and held in the racked position. The biggest cue with this variation is to pull your ribs down and in. This will activate your core and help to cue against falling into the more passive hyperextension of the spine.

3. Waiter's Walk

For this variation the weight will be held overhead with a straight arm. This variation can do wonders for shoulder stability.

Make sure to go light with this variation. As with any overhead position, activate your anterior core to prevent rib flare and lumbar hyperextension. If you are not able to achieve the overhead position without compensation, this variation may not be for you.

4. Zercher Carry

The Zercher Carry can be a brutal variation that will test your mental fortitude. The location of the load is placed in front of the body in bent arms. Typically, it is done with a barbell placed in the crook of the elbows but can be done with heavy sandbags or a slosh pipe.

This variation will stress the traps, abs, glutes and even the biceps. Do not lean back as you walk, and keep your core and glutes engaged to help stabilize.

5. Combo Carries

The creative juices can really begin to flow with these carries.

In short, each arm is doing a different carry. For example, one side can carry a kettlebell in the Waiter's Walk fashion while the opposite arm is doing a Suitcase Carry.

The asymmetrical loading is a greater teacher of locking down the core and maintaining good posture. Here are a few of the options you could play with.

  • Waiter's Walk/Suitcase Carry
  • Rack Walk/Suitcase Carry
  • Waiter's Walk/Rack Walk
  • Shoulder-loaded Carry/Suitcase Carry
Again, the only limiting factor is your ability to be creative. Check out a couple different combo variations to include into your training.