Trainer Tess Glynee-Jones doing a suitcase carry

Move of the week: suitcase carry for functional core strength

Posted by for Workouts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: the suitcase carry

If you clicked this article thinking you were going to get tips about going on holiday, we can only apologise. But don’t go: the functional exercise that we’re explaining will make handling your luggage even easier. That’s because the suitcase carry is one of the most functional exercises that there is. 

By loading one of the most common every day moves – walking – with a kettlebell, we don’t only get better at carrying heavy loads but also train our ability to carry them properly. Not only does that protect your body from accidental injuries, but you’ll also be building a lot of core muscle that will support the rest of your training. 

What is a suitcase carry?

On the surface this move looks simple, as it literally just involves carrying a deadlift. But it’s harder than you might imagine. 

The exercise is great because:

It’s functional: as it builds strength in the movement patterns you use every day. 

It works your entire core: to keep you upright and stable as you load one side of the body. 

It builds shoulder strength: to keep that weight from swinging around. 

It improves your grip: as you’ll be holding a heavy weight for a long period of time.

What muscles does a suitcase carry work?

A suitcase carry mainly works into the upper and body and core, including:

  • Delts
  • Lats
  • Traps
  • Transverse abdominals
  • Rectus abdominals 
  • Obliques 

How to do a suitcase carry

  1. Pick up a kettlebell and hold it in one hand with your arm straight down by your side. 
  2. Roll your shoulders back and down and engage your core by pulling your belly button to your spine. 
  3. Now ‘carry’ the weight, by walking forwards for a few steps. You might want to allow your free hand to extend outwards to help you balance.
  4. Place the weight on the floor one you’ve walked your desired distance, and walk back with the kettlebell in the other hand. 

Images: Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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