4 Exercise Variations to Build a Strong Core

Here at UFIT we aim for you to be strong and functional in every situation you are placed in, whether it's in a gym setting or an everyday one. So many people train themselves to lift a weight in one position, but they are missing a trick! Will Foden, personal trainer at UFIT Amoy Street

Loaded carries are awesome for true core development as well as being one of the most versatile lifts in the gym and can be used for anything from conditioning, strength or even a warm-up. Whether you are wanting to build muscle, lose fat or get stronger, loaded carries will increase your overall performance.

Core anatomy

To clarify, your core does not refer to your six pack. Your ‘core’ refers to 360 degree strength around your spine. Here’s a image of your core:

We also need to understand that we don’t just have a six pack we have a band of muscle around our spine called our ‘Transverse adominals’ which provide your ‘core’ with most of its strength. Using a variety of carries we can target the core from all angles, thus building 360 degrees of strength throughout the body.

The Aim

The aim when training with loaded carries it to place the body under enough load to illicit a training response (strength, fat loss, conditioning) whilst being safe. There are many variations of a loaded carry and these include:

Farmers carries

Pick up two weights that are 50% of your body weight + and walk. Easy! The aim is to be able to walk with body weight in your hands for 20m. So you can use this for building grip strength or use it as a loaded conditioning element in a circuit.

Zercher carry

This lift is used to train the core muscles in the front. Having a weight in your arms will work your abs and core muscles to maintain the upright position. This lift will teach you to be able to maintain a stable spine throughout a movement.

Suitcase carry

The aim is to maintain an upright position whilst holding a weight with one hand. This will train your core from a lateral (side) perspective. This is a great exercise to use if your side plank is weak or your core hasn’t been conditioned to be strong whilst fatigued.

Overhead carry

This carry is ideal for someone who has shoulder stability issues. Being able to carry heavy weights above your head will train all your stabiliser and protective muscles in your shoulders as well as build strong traps and delts. If you guys are practicing handstands this is a must as you teach your body to be able to keep a effective position whilst loading your upper body.

When should they be used?

Add any of these variations to the circuit below and use it to finish your workout, and the increase in strength and stamina will be amazing. For as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes:

1.     Carry variation 20m x 2

2.     Press ups x 10-20

3.     Air squats/goblet squats x15

With that being said, come train with us at UFIT Amoy Street and we will be able to further guide you in strengthening your core.


Will has been in the fitness industry for over 10 years, as a self-employed personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach and bootcamp owner. He has experience with a wide range of clients including rehab, weight loss and sports performance.

His passion and experience is driven by years of playing professional rugby. He understands the hard work and discipline needed to achieve life long goals and believes in helping his clients become their best self both physically and mentally.