Dan John is awesome! I remember the first introduction to him was his book, Never Let Go, I was a freshman in college when I got it and in my first year of training people as a career. I read it in a single day in between clients. It's essentially a compilation of some of his best articles.
It was in a way life changing.
It opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about training and living.
But I've heard that same sentiment from a lot of people. I think it's just one of those Dan John things. He's a special human being.
Anyways besides recommending that book to you the point of telling you about Mr. John is that one thing he harps on a lot when talking training is loaded carries.
In other words he feels like one of the best things you can do for your body and one of the things largely missing from most people's training is the carrying of heavy objects across a certain distance repeatedly. I'd have to agree with him on this.
I know it's not a result of people refusing to do loaded carries as much as it is a lack of exposure to that kind of training and maybe even the lack of a facility where they can do loaded carries. Either way more people need to be spending more time picking heavy stuff up, carrying it around, setting it down, and repeating it often.
Dan John's a really smart and well-educated man. He's probably the only strength and conditioning coach I know that holds masters degrees in history and religious studies. Trust me it shows though in the way he writes, communicates, speaks, and coaches. Anyways Mr. John isn't one to dig into the nitty-gritty of explaining why people should do loaded carries. He speaks from a place of experience and in his experience people get stronger, healthier, leaner, and more athletic when carrying heavy loads across long distances and because of this he makes sure to include such exercises.
And as with most things Dan John is once proven right and was way ahead of his time in terms of understanding how to train the body correctly to optimize its function and performance. I am trying to say that science confirmed years later what Dan John new for over a decade.
I mean the top spine researcher (in my opinion) in the world, Stuart McGill, supports the use of loaded carries to develop core strength, reduce risk for back injuries, and improve the stability of the hips.
For these reasons I make sure that I not only pick stuff up and put it down many times each week I also make sure I pick stuff up, carry it around, and put it down many times each week.
It helps teach my body how to properly brace my spine and mid-section while my extremities move around this stable base. It reinforces good posture. And it just makes you feel like a total badass. After a few loaded carries you'll be trying to offer up your moving expertise to everyone relocating in order to show off your loaded carry prowess.
The thing is there are many ways to perform a loaded carry and you can do such exercises with just about any object you are strong enough to get off the ground making it a rather convenient and easy exercise to adapt to any situation in any location.
To get your loaded carry career off to a good start I wanted to introduce you to a carry variation that I will actually probably be doing a lot over the next 10 days or so. My wife and I are taking a trip to Colorado with her family and my plan is to bring along my 50 pound kettlebell. It may sound over the top, but it's actually pretty easy to travel with. Sure it's kind of heavy, but it doesn't take up much space and you can easily stow it away in the car and your room when it's not in use.
Not to mention a single kettebell and you own bodyweight are really about the only things you need to ever stay in reasonable shape, well of course not eating like an asshole is also required, but that is for another blog post.
I myself when traveling prefer to train in the morning before everyone is up and starting their day. Primarily for two reasons which are I don't want my training to take away from time I could have spent with family and I also find that having this time in the morning to be by myself gives me the energy and recharge I need to spend the rest of my day interacting, engaging, and being present with the people around me. It's not that I don't want to spend time with them I just find social interaction with a lot of people to be emotionally draining and I need to have that quiet time to recharge and refuel myself so I can continue to make my best contribution to the experience.
But anyways since I will only have my one kettlebell to train with the go to carry variation I will be using is called the Goblet Carry and it can be done with a kettlebell or a dumbbell. It's a fantastic exercise because holding the weight in the front of your body gives you a lot of feedback about how your upper body is positioned. If you are to flexed and rounded forward you will being to feel the kettebell or dumbbell sink and pull you to the ground, but if you are to extended then you will being to feel your lower back sway and your hips get out in front of your chest. But if you keep the upper body in a nice neutral and inline position that kettlebell will sit perfectly at chest level and you will feel your upper back muscles doing a lot of the work to keep the bell up.
It's a super simple exercise, but brutally effective the heavier the weight gets. Below is a video of me demonstrating the exercise in its entirety. It's rather straight forward, but if you have any questions please feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KB Goblet Carry
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training