Maintaining proper spinal alignment, core stability and joint alignment is essential for successful, injury-free performance. The bottoms-up KB carry is a single-arm exercise designed to challenge static motor control, joint stability and muscular strength from an upright, moving posture. This exercise will also help activate the muscles of the rotator cuff, improve scapular control, enhance core stability and increase strength and stability in the muscles of the hip, core, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
Execution: Start from an athletic stance facing a clear walking path. Hold a kettlebell upside-down in one hand with the hand in front of the shoulder at chin height. Squeeze the hand gripping the KB to help activate the muscles of the rotator cuff. Use the opposite hand to help steady and position the KB. There should be a 900 angle at the elbow. The elbow should be slightly below the shoulder and next to the body. The KB should be beside the head.
Inhale, set the core, squeeze the glutes and begin walking forward in a controlled manner. Walk for 20-40 yards, stop, lower the KB, turn around, switch hands and walk back. Squeeze the grip, keep the core tight and don’t let the lower back arch throughout the exercise. Do 2-4 sets in each direction.
Coaching points: Squeeze the grip tightly to engage the muscles in the shoulder (rotator cuff and scapula) to keep KB steady as you walk. Keep the core active and tight to support the spine as you move. A stiff core also helps control the KB and prevents it from rotating in the hand. Core stiffness is essential to prevent loss of the KB position. Don’t lean to one side, bounce or sway from side-to-side.
Options: If you don’t have a KB, you can use a medicine ball or dumbbell to execute the movement. Make it more challenging by walking backwards and/or moving side-to-side. You can also perform a squat or squat and press at the end of the walk.
Jose Vazquez, PT, CSCS is Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Texas Rangers.