Methods of Paleo Training: Carrying
Carrying was what we had to do to transport all items in the paleolithic era. We needed a way to move our everyday items such as rocks, firewood, shrubbery and the kill from the hunt. We didn’t have a car or bicycle that would transport these items. Some argue we might have used domesticated animals to transport items, but most scientists agree that we did not domesticate animals until the beginning of the Neolithic era. We did however use different forms of devices in which made us able to carry more or carry more efficiently. The devices we had ranged from animal skin bags to baskets, and even sticks. The distance in which we had to carry items ranged from hundreds of feet to miles. We can use this simple act of carrying to improve our fitness levels. Below are some examples of training that I use to develop a primal body.
The Farmer’s Walk
Assuming the name you may think that this one stems from the Neolithic farmer (not funny I know), but as a paleolithic human this would have been the way we transport many things. Farmer’s Walks are a great core exercise and also, when programmed accordingly, develops strength endurance as well. I typically use this exercise within a circuit having my clients walk for 30 seconds, as fast as can be controlled, with around five to ten sets. This exercise can be done carrying dumbbells, kettle bells or custom bars that are heavy enough challenge grip and posture. Retracted shoulder blades and a neutral spine are vital to ensure you avoid injury and promote proper exercise technique.
This exercise is basically a unilateral farmers walk or carrying only one dumbbell. It can challenge your core to counteract the force pulling you down on one side. The main thing you have to ensure is that you maintain a neutral spine. You do not want to be walking with a slight lean as the purpose is to use your Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum and Transverse Abdominus to stabilize the spine. A similar repetition and set protocol would be used, but be sure to balance out both sides.
There are many different variations to a sandbag carry. My go-to exercises include the bear hug, overhead carry and rack position carry. I tend to use a sand bag for these types of carries as they are safer. The same rules apply to posture, programming and technique as with the above carries. The weight you use will depend on ability level but I recommend you strive to challenge your body.
Carrying can be a great addition to your workout regimen to strengthen the core in a functional manner. Not only does a strong core look good but it protects the spine and reduces the likelihood of injury. Now go out there and carry the weight of your ancestors!