Increase Core Stability with Carries

Sandbag / Dumbbell / Kettlebell Carry


Increased Core Stability


The ability to develop great spinal stabilization is vital to be functional through daily activities, and developing dynamic core rigidity is one of the most important components to achieve this.  One of the easiest exercises you can use to develop dynamic core stability is “1-Arm Carries” progressions using Sandbags, Dumbbells, or Kettlebells.

1 – Arm Carries Progressions:


Level 1 = Hold weight at side (hip-level)

Level 2 = Hold weight at shoulder-height

Level 3 = Hold Weight Overhead (Primary focus of videos)

Level 4 = Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Carries

Level 5 = Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Carries with an Overhead Press (Press performed between steps)

(Level 4 & 5 Share Photos)


Each of the progressions above has different variations that could make them more challenging.  You could add Squat Variations, Lunge Variations, Hip Hinge Variations, change of direction with movement, or increase the lever arm of the opposite arm (could be unloaded or loaded).


1 – Arm Carries Instructions:

  1. Hold weight in one hand
  2. Lock loaded shoulder down and back into the socket
  3. When carrying by side do not let weight touch or rest on the thighs
  4. When carrying at shoulder height do not let weight rest on should and keep weight held out in front of you
  5. Stay completely upright throughout the movement making sure to maintain tight abs and tight glutes (think of holding a book on your head throughout this movement)


Factors that will force you to Auto Correct “1 – Arm Carry” Movements:

  1. Weak Grip
  2. Weak Shoulders
  3. Weak Obliques
  4. A Fatigued core could cause you to add a side-bend, increasing your chances of causing trauma to your back
  5. Having poor endurance and strength with your grip will cause you to use a lighter resistance or place the load down
  6. To insure you perform the movement correct and safe you need to make sure your torso is completely upright throughout the movement


Carrying things will cause you to auto correct due to two reasons, your arms & shoulders get tired from holding the weight overhead and you just can’t get enough oxygen due to compromised breathing from added pressure to the core.

Making your arms stronger through isometric positions will help to fix arm and shoulder fatigue making it easier to carry objects throughout your day.  A few of our favorite isometric exercises we use help to make your arm strong include planks, side planks, and reverse pillars.

As you perform overhead carry exercises your body will learn how to maintain stiffness throughout your torso (core) and you will begin to use your diaphragm more efficiently to bring air into the lungs.  As you start to learn and perform 1-arm carry movements the difficulty you have with breathing will be caused from the compression of the ribs during the exercise, and your body will adapt over time with consistent practice of performing the movement.  Everything your body learns from this movement is due to the stationary position you are putting your arm in.  Adding movement to the carry makes the exercise more dynamic and challenging.



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