The suitcase carry is an excellent exercise that is easy to learn, will build strength, endurance, conditioning, improve posture and burn way more calories than all the gym hamsters toiling away on their treadmills to nowhere. Let me reiterate one of my primary fitness themes – Your workouts don’t need to be crazy complicated in order to produce great fitness results.
Here’s how to perform the simple, yet challenging kettlebell suitcase carry:
Creating Productive Tension And Using Good Form
Pick up & lower the weights using good form meaning hinge your butt back like you are sitting into a chair and keep your chest up throughout the descent. Grip the kettlebell handle and maintain tension as you drive to a standing position through your heels keeping your chest up. Pretend you are trying to keep a $100 bill under your armpit and brace your abs as if you are anticipating a punch in the stomach. This is the easiest way to explain the tension you need to create as you raise and lower the weight from the ground. Not only will this create a better metabolic effect promoting additional calorie burn and strength gain, but these tension techniques will keep you safer as you perform this exercise as the body will be braced for the performance and help resist potential injury.
As you practice picking up the weight using these tension techniques make sure you perform the movements in a smooth and controlled manner without any disconnect or loose, jerky movements. Breathe in through your nose as you lower the weight and forcefully out through your mouth with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth as you stand up with the kettlebell. The outward breath through your mouth should sound like a loud hiss like an annoyed snake. (TSSSSSS….)
Don’t be timid or apprehensive when you exhale like this through your mouth. If I were standing near you and can’t noticeably hear you “hissing” then the exhale isn’t pronounced enough to create the proper tension needed. I have had some people tell me they are “embarrassed” to be too loud around others with their breathing. Nonsense – there is nothing to be embarrassed about when utilizing proper, safe and productive technique. This is music to my ears and earns respect and praise in my classroom! However, don’t overdo it and scream or bellow during your exhale sounding like a poor animal trapped in the tar pits like the attention starved annoying fitness fools we all have seen at the gym. Someone may throw a net over you and cart you away!
Practice these tension techniques in your everyday activities that require you to pick things off the ground or when you carry your kids or pets around as this will promote more productive and safe movement throughout your day.
Tips And Guidelines
Always do a Meaningful Warmup before ramping up to more intense activities and exercises
Ladies use a 12kg kettlebell and men start with a 16kg kettlebell for your suitcase carries. These are merely general recommendations so bump up or down a size depending on your fitness level. Pick a kettlebell size where you are somewhat out of breath after performing a round of carries. Just make sure you don’t hold your breath.
You can use dumbbells if you don’t have kettlebells, but I find people, especially beginners, do better with a kettlebell. The handle height and design of a kettlebell seem to put you in a better position of success when performing suitcase carries or most any productive weighted carry for that matter.
I even use sandbags to perform suitcase carries when I want to increase the challenge since you are dealing with a live, constantly shifting weight forcing your body to work harder to compensate for this unstableness as well as an uneven distribution of weight. Just make sure you use a sandbag with a center handle grip like the Ultimate Sandbag which is a mainstay in my fitness arsenal.
Walk with a tall spine (straight,upright posture)
Don’t crane your neck forward
Keep your shoulders back and NOT rounded forward
Take small, quick steps
Take short, rhythmic breaths as you do the walking portion of the exercise
Brace your abs while performing this exercise while walking, also. You don’t want to be all loosy goosy as you go through these motions. You want to create some productive tension while walking for max benefit and safety.
Make sure you do walk the same distance on each side to keep your kettlebell suitcase carry workout balanced
Start out with a moderate weight and do rounds of 50 steps(challenge yourself,but increase the distance if using lighter weight and decrease the distance if using a heavier weight. Mix it up, but don’t use bad form!
The suitcase carry is a fantastic exercise by itself, but check out how I program the kettlebell suitcase carry into a supremely productive, fun, challenging and results-rich Kettlebell and Sandbag Carry Workout that pays huge fitness dividends.
Get in the habit of using these tips and techniques for doing suitcase carries in everyday situations to increase your fitness and posture improvement opportunities. For example, if you have a single shopping bag, instead of carting it out to the parking lot in a shopping cart – do a suitcase carry with good form keeping the techniques you learned here in mind. Try walking half the distance to your vehicle, then switch sides for the remainder of the distance to balance things out. Super special red, white and blue bonus points if you park your vehicle at the outer fringes of the store for a robust calorie zapping carry!
Enjoy this great exercise & work the suitcase carry into your routine often-your body will thank you!
Stay Well! Train and Eat Smart! Get Rid of the Drains and Pains in Your Life! Value your loved ones and friends and get out and have some active, safe fun!
I Eat T-Bone Steaks and Carry Kettlebell Weights
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