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How Carries Lead to the Best Core and Glute Training

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator of DVRT Restoration, Pelvic Control, & Shoulder Course)

I can’t help it, the glasses I will always look through, regarding any form of fitness, strength, and performance training is that of a therapist. You don’t go through THAT much training and don’t have it majorly influence how you see everything. That doesn’t mean I am handcuffed to my ideas, and it doesn’t mean I don’t want people to train hard. However, it does mean I want people to train smart! As renowned physical therapist and co-creator of the Functional Movement Screen, Lee Burton says, “it is our job that people don’t get hurt in the gym. We can’t prevent every injury in sport, but the gym should be the place where we have greater control.” I can’t argue with Lee’s statement especially if we go back to thinking about building proper progression and what we are trying to accomplish.

A great example is the idea of carries. I’ll be honest, until I met Josh over a decade ago now, I never thought of doing carries to build better stability of the core and glutes. However, after really delving into the work of people like spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, it makes a lot of sense WHY we would use carries as part of our performance, corrective, and overall strength training.

sandbag carries

Renowned physical therapist, Gray Cook, takes coaches through some Ultimate Sandbag carries for stability of the core and glutes.

“Exercises are tools to get specific jobs done. The way an exercise is performed depends on the rationale for choosing that exercise. First, list the objective and then decide on the best tool. Usually the best exercise is the one that creates the largest effect with the minimal risk to the joints. If the purpose is to create hip extension power, then exercises such as weighted carries and sled drags have to be considered.”

Carries can have such a powerful impact upon our core and glutes because walking itself is a very unstable activity. I know we don’t think of it that way because we all do it everyday without thought to the complexity of walking. Josh recently talked about all that goes into walking in a post HERE. Many experts will say that 60-70% of our time walking is on single leg and that takes incredible control of the pelvis to keep us from falling over. Yes, that means the glutes and core have to work in close synergy to maintain stability.

Even though we are focusing on the core and glutes it doesn’t mean ONLY these areas. Our feet are critical and are the beginning of EVERYTHING! That is why doing exercises in a standing manner are so important to developing true functional fitness.

My point in discussing walking and carries in such detail is that most people are not armed with the skills to know if someone is walking well or not. Sounds funny, but the number one dysfunctional pattern is walking. You can have a great hinge, squat, push, pull, and so forth and still walk badly. However, if you walk well, I guarantee you the other movement patterns will be at a higher level.

So, do we want to load a pattern of the body we aren’t confident we can know if people are performing it well? Probably not, is there a solution? I think we don’t need to get you a PhD in biomechanics to have solutions for such an issue. That is what attracted me to DVRT as a therapist…the progressions and solutions.

How can we get a better gauge if people are walking well and are ready to perform a drill like carries? How can we know if the glutes and core are working together in the right way? One of my favorite go to’s is marching variations. In physical therapy, we use a single leg stance test to measure actual functional capacity of muscles of the pelvis like the glutes and core.

It makes sense then that a march could help us see in a more stable environment (because we aren’t moving with direction, with speed, etc.) how the interaction of the glutes and core are performing. The task may seem simple, but these drills are not easy if we pay attention to the little details.

Josh and I break down several marches you can add to your training to build better core and glute training while also giving you feedback when other great exercises like carries are right for you and/or your client!

Don’t miss getting a FREE Force Ultimate Sandbag and training program when you invest in any Burly Ultimate Sandbag with code “bogo” HERE this week only!