Posts Tagged ‘Loaded Carries’

Having a nice set of abs does not come from a thousand sit-ups or crunches. While traditional core exercises can play a (small) role in developing an aesthetically pleasing mid-section, abdominal definition is the result of proper nutrition, not core work. If you want those muscles to show, pay attention to what you eat.

With that in mind, it’s important to know the primary function of your core musculature — stabilize and prevent unnecessary movements.

Here are my top five core exercises to build a solid core.

1. Bodysaw


These are one of those “so simple, yet so effective” exercises. I’ve done this in the past, but I’ve never truly appreciated it until recently. The action is like that of a saw, with a forward and back motion coming from the shoulders. Interestingly, I’ve found this to be so much more effective than rollouts on the stability ball, for two reasons:

  • Most notably, less complaints of back pain (provided you do them correctly).
  • There were some cases where my clients would have a tendency to use their triceps with stability ball rollouts.

You can easily progress this by going further back. But beware, this exercise is not for the faint of heart. You’ll really feel them in your abs.

It’s important to note that to execute this movement properly (and with most core exercises), you have to brace your core and squeeze your glutes.

2. TRX Fallout


This is very much like an ab wheel rollout because you’re essentially engaging your anterior core to resist extension.  Although, I’m more partial to this exercise because not everyone has access to an ab wheel, and it’s a much easier set up. The good thing about the TRX Fallout is that it can be easily regressed or progressed by adjusting the length of the straps, and walking in front or behind the anchor (attachment point).

To increase the difficulty, simply set up behind the anchor. To make it easier, set up in front of the anchor. Avoid excessive arching of the lower back by squeezing your glutes and bracing your core. It should be a straight line from your head to your feet.

3. Suitcase Carry


Generally, those with limited hip mobility are folks that experience chronic lower back pain. A basic core exercise such as the side plank is a simple, yet effective way to develop the lateral stabilizers — thus, reducing stiffness and/or pain of the lower back while improving hip mobility. To be honest though, side planks can be a bit boring.

To kick it up a notch, the suitcase carry does a great job of working your lateral core and grip strength. Think of it as a loaded dynamic version of the side plank. You’re basically walking with a load (preferably a kettlebell) in one hand.

The main objective here is to stay upright with no lean and keeping your shoulders leveled.

4. Shoulder Touch Push-ups


Integrating different push-up variations are one of the best ways to strengthen your core. There’s a variety of ways you can go about it.  For simplicity’s sake, though, we’ll cover Shoulder Touch Push-ups. You’re killing two birds with one stone. Here’s why: there’s obviously a tremendous amount of anterior core engagement in the push-up position. Adding in a unilateral component such as this in particular challenges core rotary stability. Put simply, it fries your core from two planes of motion — trust me, that’s a good thing.

If you want to make it harder, try performing it on a medicine ball.

5. Reverse Plank Walks


Traditionally, doing this in a forward fashion bothered some of my clients wrists, so a tidbit I picked up from Coach Ben Bruno was to do them in reverse. Adding a mini-band solves the issue of sagging and/or shifting of the hips, which maintains anterior core stress.

One way of making these harder is to deliberately make larger excursions as you move backwards.




I’ve provided you with a couple of my favorite core exercises.  These movements will strengthen the muscles surrounding the hips and spine. Thus, allowing you to move and perform better. While I’m of the belief that you can build a pretty solid core with some good ol’ fashion heavy lifting, you still have to throw in some additional core work. Give each of them a try and let me know how it goes.

I’m happy to announce that I’m taking clients for my online fitness coaching. If you want to get stronger, build lean muscle, and decrease body fat, learn more about my coaching here. 

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While I’ve always had an open mind, there were instances in the past where I just wanted to bang my head into the wall over the the antics I see in commercial gyms and on social media. Nowadays, I try to understand the reasoning behind their approach, albeit a challenging task.

How you train or what you advocate is your move. Every exercise has its place due to the concept of specificity.

That being said, if we’re talking about exercises that are the most bang for your buck, it’s no question that you’ve got to hammer down movements that are going to make you strong — and exercises that exhibit high levels of muscular recruitment are going to be your best bet.

Here are four exercises to rule them all.


1. Prowler/Sled Push


What can I say? They’re the best way to lean out without losing strength and muscle (provided your nutrition is on point).

From a conditioning standpoint, these babies rule — which is why they should be in your training program. If the zombie apocalypse does happen, at least you’ll know that you’re in excellent condition to be a survivor.

2. Loaded Carries


I always get asked, “What does this exercise work?” Instead, they should be asking what doesn’t this exercise work. I’m convinced that nothing packs on more muscle than loaded carries. In addition to improved hip stability, walking with a heavy load forces you to engage your core, your upper back, and arms. It’s also worth mentioning that it does a heck of job in improving shoulder function.

3. Deadlift


It’s no secret that the Deadlift is highly regarded as the king of all exercises. You’re essentially working everything from your head to your toes. With that in mind, there are many schools of thought on how should you pull. Powerlifters will argue that the Trap Bar Deadlift are for sissies, and others will say Sumo is cheating.

Here’s what I have to say about all of that:


What we need to start taking more into consideration is our unique individual anatomy. People vary dramatically in structure. Some might not be able to pull a conventional deadlift.  Similarly, there are others who might be more well-equipped to pull from a sumo stance.

I believe the deadlift is a big movement that should stay in your training program year round, however, you have to choose which variation is suited best for you.

Conventional Deadlift

Sumo Deadlift

Trap Bar Deadlift

Landmine Deadlift

4. Bulgarian Split Squats


I know what you’re thinking, and yes — I would’ve said the same thing in the past, but hear me out.  I have such an immense adoration for this exercise simply because they rarely cause me or my clients any problem.  In fact, I’ve found them to almost have a universal application.

I love back squats, but due to structural limitations, a lot of people are pretty much in quick sand whenever they try to get under the bar and squat — they’re not going anywhere. This is why I’m convinced that the Bulgarian Split Squat is a far better option than conventional squatting. Even with proper form in a back squat, you’re bound to run into some problems whether it’d be hip, lower back, or knee issues. Moreover, you can virtually load as much weight as you can, but with less loading on the spine.

If not these, front squats are my second option.

Honorable Mentions: Pull-Ups, Weighted Push-Ups, Kettlebell Turkish Get Ups

I’m aware that this is a very short list.  But make no mistake that proper execution of these movements will yield big time results.  Vary the intensity and stay consistent.

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