Throughout the day, we’re always moving. We sit, bend, stand, walk, and everything else in between. Every time we do something, we go through various forms of the foundational movements of the human body. Although our bodies may look different in many ways, our foundational movements are alike.
These movements are:
This is often one of the most overlooked foundational movements. Think about how many times during the day you do things such as walking with a backpack on, carrying grocery bags, carrying a plate of food, or even when you grab dumbbells off the rack to bring them over to a bench, for example.
Out of all the foundational movement patterns, this is one that we probably do most often. If you neglect to train your core while walking, that can greatly affect optimal performance and posture. With all of the carry progressions, we must prevent any spinal movement. This is the true definition of core stability. Flexion (leaning forward), extension (leaning back), and lateral flexion (leaning to the side) are all movements that need to be prevented.
When we walk and carry heavy weights, we create the ability to produce more force into the ground with every step which can translate into running faster and jumping higher.
There’s multiple ways we can train this movement.
Always look straight forward, having a neutral spine from head to hips. Prevent any side to side swaying when you move.
Keep shoulders and hips level to ground, there shouldn't be any side to side shifting right to left as you walk.
Double Arm (Farmer's)/Single Arm (Suitcase) Carry
This is a common movement that we perform when we carry things in both hands with our arms down by our sides. A farmer's carry is when we have weights in each of our hands, a suitcase carry is when we have a weight in only one hand. Both of these variations will also challenge grip strength, especially if the weight is heavy.
The suitcase carry will challenge your lateral core more since one weight will be pulling you to the side. These are more difficult than a farmers carry so master that before moving onto a suitcase carry.
Double Arm or Single Arm Front Rack Carry
This can be done with either kettlebells or dumbbells. For kettlebells, weights will be held in front of the body. This is similar to the goblet carry but with the weight higher up on the body, it is more difficult to prevent any movement from the core. For dumbbells, the weights can sit on top of the shoulders with elbows pointed straight forward like a front squat. To progress this exercise, only use 1 weight instead of 2 to challenge your obliques and assisting muscles.
As always, be mindful of posture, just like the other variations.
Double Arm or Single Arm (Waiter's Carry) Overhead Carry
This is the most challenging of all carry forms because the weights are held higher, so gravity causes more of a distraction to keep proper form and incorporates our upper body more, working on shoulder stability. With the double arm variation, an object like a barbell can be held in both hands, or a dumbbell/kettlebell can be held in each for more of a challenge. When going overhead it becomes more difficult to keep a neutral spine. For this reason, practice and master the previous progressions before moving onto these ones. Prevent arching the back and letting the rib cage rise.
This type of carry is a combination of any of the aforementioned unilateral variations.
Examples of offset carries include:
Out of all these movement patterns, crawling is the one we’re naturally able to perform first at a very young age before being able to walk. Crawling isn’t just for small children though. Our body is challenged in many different ways when we perform variations of crawling. When we crawl, we coordinate our opposite limbs of our upper body and lower body as we do when walking and running, but also train core stability to prevent flexion (rounding), extension (arching), and rotation. In addition to those benefits, if you readlast month’s Coach’s Corner, you learned about closed chain and open chain exercises. This is a closed chain exercise where the hand that's on the ground is stationary while our body moves. This is very important for building shoulder stability. There are many crawling variations but we’re going to cover two main ones we use at ESP.
A bear crawl is performed in a quadruped position (hands and knees).
Lateral Hand Walks
This is a crawl where you move to the side. Just like bear crawls, opposing limbs must coordinate and hip rotation must be minimized. When moving to the side, our scapula moves in the motion of retracting (pinching back) and protracting (pressing forward) more than a bear crawl.