As it goes with exercise, there are 6 basic human movements that each and every one of us should incorporate into our programs and strive to perfect. Most of us know 5 of them pretty well: hinge, squat, pull, push, and everything else (push being the most prevalent of the 4…not necessarily the most important. Everything else meaning…well, anything useful that doesn’t fit into the other 5 categories).
However, of the 6 basic human movements, the last one is the one that can have the biggest overall effect on performance and function. And this is also the one that is often overlooked and underutilized.
I’ve talked extensively about the carry family. If you look back at previous iterations of the exercise of the week, you’ll see article on the suitcase carry and the farmer’s carry. These are the more well-known of the carries and 2 of which you do see it programs are a relatively frequent basis (the farmer’s carry, especially, has become more prevalent thanks to strongman competitions).
These 2 exercises are wonderful at increasing strength and capacity for anybody willing to push themselves. And I would highly recommend that you all put them into your programming on a regular basis and try to increase your weight every other week.
The carry that we’re going to cover today will not have quite the impact that the suitcase and farmer’s carry have on overall strength and capacity. Yes, it will help improve strength and it will help improve capacity. However, it’s more relevant purpose is to increase stability in the shoulder girdle and improve postural deficiencies.
The waiter carry looks a little scary at first, especially for someone who hasn’t picked their arms up higher than shoulder height in some time. This movement requires you to stabilize a weight overhead for distance or time. In stabilizing the weight, there are 2 important functions that are happening:
#1) You are improving the strength of the shoulder stabilizers, which weaken overtime due to inactivity.
#2) You are improving postural deficiencies that have taken hold overtime due to sitting.
I know postural deficiencies sounds painful. Basically, as we slowly grow into a sedentary society (this is a topic for another time), we are sitting more and more. And this sitting not only creates problems with our metabolic and circulatory processes, it also creates dysfunctions in our posture. Overtime, the muscles on the front of the body shorten and tighten, while the muscles on the back of the body lengthen and weaken.
This is a basic generality, but you get the picture. If you can visualize your 80 year old grandma hunched over on her walker, this is a product of sitting in a slouched position over a period of time (80 years!).
So simply implementing the waiter carry can go a long way in helping improve those imbalances. Start off really small, and preferably use a kettlebell. The reason a kettlebell is more suitable than a dumbbell is because of the weight distribution. We want the weight to sit behind you as you carry it, so that it puts your shoulder into a position that will require more stabilizing actions.
If you are a women, start with a 6 or 8KG kettlebell (about 10-15lbs). If you are a man, start with 10 to 12KG (20-25lbs). Understand that this exercise is not about brute strength…at least not in the beginning. You’ll find that it is hard to keep the weight from waving around as you walk. But overtime, that wave will get smaller and smaller, and you’ll slowly begin to start to concentrate on going up in weight.