The three weight lifting methods most responsible for my strength gains.
If you’ve been following this page for a while, you’ll know that weight lifting has been a major part of my fitness journey. I’ve used many weight lifting protocols but there’s a few that stand out as having the most impact for me when it comes to gaining strength and transforming my body.It’s important to understand the basics but once you have those mastered, you should look into the different training methods to see what will help you achieve your goal. I plan on sharing the lifting methods that have helped me the most with gaining strength. They’ve all helped me in different ways.
Loaded carries have been an absolute game changer. They’ve had so much impact that I still find ways to do them while my gym is closed. Loaded carries can help you with a number of goals like muscle gain, fat loss, and increased work capacity. I’ve noticed the benefit mostly in the strength department. Moving heavy weight just feels easier when loaded carries are part of my program. Maybe that’s why strength coaches like Dan John and Charles Thibadeau reccomend loaded carries to lifters.
Two things that make loaded carries special are core engagement and grip strength. Your core has to be braced when walking around with weight. This high level of core engagement transfers well to squats and deadlifts. Your level of core engagement in these lifts can make the difference between a successful lift and a failed lift. Having your core well braced will also help with injury prevention.
The grip strength I’ve gained from loaded carries have also helped me with my overall strength. Grip strength goes beyond just helping the deadlift. Try any lift, regardless of the target muscles and see how much easier it is to move the weight when you can grip the bar tightly. It’s because squeezing something tightly sends a message to your brain that you’re in danger, causing your body to tense up. Tension is one of the biggest keys to lifting heavy weights. You can benefit from the different variations of loaded carries.
Compensatory acceleration training (CAT) helped me tremendously when I felt stuck in my squat and deadlift. It makes perfect sense that the faster you can move a weight, the easier the lift is. The key to CAT is moving the weight as explosively as possible during the concentric/ upward portion of the lift. By doing this, you learn how to apply more force to your lifts. Force is what moves objects. In order to move 400 pounds, you need to apply more than 400 pounds of force. I’ve only applied it to squats and deadlifts but I’ve noticed great gains from CAT .
Cluster sets are an awesome way to build strength. They’re a great way to get your body comfortable with heavier weight. Cluster sets allow you to do more reps of a certain weight than you normally would by taking mini breaks in between each set. If you can only do three reps of a weight, clusters will allow you to do more. I go into greater detail about cluster sets in the post dedicated to Strength Coach Charles Poliquin.
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The Suitcase Carry is one of the best exercises for building core strength.
You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe ” – Fred Hatfield
Core strength is one of the most important factors in any physical performance. Without it, you’ll be missing out on a lot of power and will be at risk of injury. I know that increasing my core strength will be crucial for me to get back to pre-pandemic form. I recently invested in a 50 pound dumbbell so I can start doing one of the hardest core exercises known to man. It’s called the suitcase carry.
As you know by now, I’m a big fan of loaded carry exercises like the Goblet Carry and Farmers Walks. The Suitcase carry is the hardest loaded carry variation I’ve tried. The movement is just like it’s name. You hold a dumbbell to your side just like you would for a suitcase. Think of a Farmers Walk in which you only have a dumbbell on one side of your body. If you don’t feel your core engaging while doing this exercise then you must be from another planet. The level of core tension when doing suitcase carries is unreal.
If you want to build serious core strength all you need is to grab a dumbbell and start walking. You can also use a kettlebell or an actual suitcase. Just like any lift, the key to making this work is not using too much weight but using enough that it’s a challenge. You’d be surprised with how little weight you can use to make this exercise challenging
How I Incorporate Suitcase Carries To My Routine
I typically do Suitcase Carries after doing short sprints. My rep and set scheme is as follows.
- Left hand Suitcase Carry for 30 seconds
- 1 Minute Rest
- Right Hand Suitcase Carry for 30 seconds
- 2 Minute Rest
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
As I’m on my journey to get stronger and improve my overall fitness, I’ve improved my squats and deadlifts tremendously over the past year. One exercise I give a lot of credit to is the Farmers Walk exercise. I’m speaking from personal experience but I’m confident you’ll see improvements in those lifts if you start to incorporate Farmers Walks to your routine.The Farmers Walk is part of the weighted carries movement group. Done primarily in Strongman Competitions, anyone can benefit from this move.
There are countless benefits to doing the Farmers Walk. It builds great core strength because you have to stabilize the weight you’re holding on both sides. Your grip will improve sue to holding heavy weights for long durations. You do have to hold the weight tightly or else it’ll drop. Your legs get a good workout since you’re using your legs to walk. Your traps, lats, and others will be worked as well. This is a great total body exercise. The only training days I wouldn’t reccomend doing them are days you do heavy grip work, like deadlift days.
You can use Farmers Walks for any goal you want. You just have to adjust the weight, distance, and rest period for your specific goals. When focusing on strength, go heavier for a shorter distance, with long rest periods. For a cardio focus, go lighter, walk for a long duration, and have a short rest period. Hypertrophy would be medium weight with middle to long distance, and short rest periods. If you’re feeling ambitious, go heavy and walk a long distance.
Another way to utilize the farmers walk is to hold a dumbbell on only one side of your body. This move is called the suitcase carry. This move builds serious core strength because your core is walking hard to prevent you from tilting on one side. The heavier you go, the more engaged your core will be. I’ve been doing this move for the past couple of weeks and notice a difference in my core strength.