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Suitcase Carry Exercise: Bulletproofing Guide

Are you tired of doing boring old ab exercises that are not giving you the results you want? Do you struggle with back pain and certain functional movements? Do you want a stronger and more stable core? Fix these problems by adding the suitcase carry exercise to your workout routine.  

Suitcase Carry Exercise

Benefits Of The Suitcase Carry Exercise:

The suitcase carry exercise is one of the best oblique exercises for core strength, lower back health, stability, and overall functionality.  Unlike your traditional sit-up, side twist, or any other ab exercise done sitting or lying down; the suitcase carry requires much more of a full body effort with an emphasis on the outter abs. 

The suitcase carry exercise is very beneficial for injury prevention, especially if you suffer from a weak lower back or have experience with lower back painBuilding muscle around the spine will act as a bulletproofing agent against injury. 

As Dr. Stuart McGill preaches, spinal stiffness is how well you can resist movement.  This will be one of your best indicators of living with a pain-free back.


How To Suitcase Carry Exercise Tutorial:

Being a relatively easy exercise, the suitcase carry exercise is all about posture and keeping an upright and sturdy frame. 

First, choose a weight that allows you to emphasize your form before you test your strength.

Pick up the weight with one arm

Pull your shoulders back while keeping them level along with your hips.

Make sure you're not leaning too far to one side while also not overcompensating the weight.

You should feel a strain in your outter abs on the opposite side of the weight.

Tighten your abs (especially on the outter region) to stabilize you body.

Maintain a neutral spine.

Slowly start walking while keeping this position.

Switch arms and repeat.


If you're a beginner, choose a lighter weight and go for a longer distance, rather than maxing out and compromising form.

Doing the suitcase carry exercise in front of a mirror to begin is a great way to hold yourself accountable by correcting any flaws you have in your form.

Below is a step-by-step video I made for you to master the suitcase carry exercise.


Suitcase Carry Exercise Targeted Muscle Groups:

What makes the suitcase carry exercise so great is that it targets so many important muscles in the midsection. The suitcase carry targets the Quadratus Lumborum, obliques, both upper and lower ab muscles, and the spinal erectors in the lower back. 

QL Muscle

Muscles such as the Quadratus Lumborum [See Image] and obliques are often neglected when it comes to strengthening your core. Being located in a more difficult and forgotten-about location, the Quadratus Lumborum and obliques are very receptive to becoming weak which can lead to injury.  


Suitcase Carry Exercise Pain Relief:

When weak and left unattended the Quadratus Lumborum muscle tissue becomes stiff and tense, resulting in pain. Releasing tightness in the Quadratus Lumborum typically requires a muscle professional such as a pt or massage therapist. However, there are alternative at-home options that mimic the elbow or knuckle of specialized help. 

Suitcase carry exercise - QL Claw

An awesome and easy-to-use tool that has helped me and many others is the QL Claw. The QL Claw is built specifically for getting into those deep hard-to-reach places that your typical foam roller or lacrosse ball is not designed for.

Read our Testimonial Page and how the QL Claw has helped top-level athletes, trainers, and therapists.


Additional Low Back Programs:

For more help regarding low back pain, tightness, strengthening, and mobility, below are two programs designed for helping you get the proper tools you need for living a pain-free life. Low back problems are a MASSIVE problem in today's world and even if you do not currently have any issues, it is important to take care of your low back before it's too late.

Flexible Back 2.0 - Lower Back Flexibility Program

Back Of Steel - Lower Back Strengthening Program


Suitcase carry - Low back strengthening program


Now that you've read about the suitcase carry exercise, check out our page on back workouts at homeSmith Machine Back Workouts, and the suitcase deadlift!


[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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