Suitcase deadlifts are one of many deadlift variations that can be performed, and are great for strengthening the musculature of the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings), hips, and core. When the single kettlebell suitcase deadlift is being performed, it is a great core stability exercise that trains the body to resist lateral flexion.
The suitcase deadlift is a fantastic deadlift variation to perform when you don’t have access to a whole lot of weight. This exercise is a similar movement to picking up a suitcase off the ground, except that you are going to pick up the kettlebell up off the ground.
You need one or two kettlebells to perform the kettlebell suitcase deadlift.
Beginners should start out by mastering the hip hinge movement. This can be done with a broomstick or wooden dowel. You have two options. One is to position the broomstick so it’s touching your tailbone, upper back, and head, and to perform Romanian deadlifts. The second is to hold the broomstick like you would a regular barbell, and perform Romanian deadlifts. With this variation, the broomstick should travel up and down your legs and along your body the entire time. With both of these variations, if you are hinging your hips properly, the dowel will not leave the points of contact on your body. The band pull-through is another great option for beginners who are looking to master the hip hinging movement.
Once beginners have mastered the hip hinge, they can start out with a single or double kettlebell suitcase deadlift. If they lack the mobility to perform the exercise from the ground, they can set up the kettlebell(s) on steps, boxes, or weight plates, and can perform the exercise this way.
Intermediate lifters should perform the suitcase deadlift towards the beginning of the workout as it is important to perform these exercises when you are mentally and physically fresh. If a full body workout is being performed, any of these deadlifts for women can be paired with some type of pushing or pulling movement, but don’t pair it with any exercise that will compromise grip strength, or one that will fatigue the core muscles. Intermediate lifters might perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps of the suitcase deadlift.
Women who are comfortable with the one or two kettlebell suitcase deadlift variations that I described above may choose to use these deadlift variations as well as increase their weight/resistance for multiple sets (2-4+) of fewer repetitions (3-6). They can also perform trap bar deadlifts. Lighter suitcase deadlifts can also be used as a specific warm-up to prepare the body for heavier deadlift variations with the barbell. These deadlift variations may also be used as part of a conditioning circuit, but only once a high level of technical proficiency has been achieved. Lifters can also perform negative reps and really focus on the eccentric component.
How a woman chooses to use the suitcase deadlift is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much weight is being used, the set/rep scheme used, where it falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general suitcase deadlifts can be used to do any or all of the following:
I am going to describe the single kettlebell suitcase deadlift:
Suitcase deadlifts are a fantastic way to challenge yourself on deadlifts when you don't have access to a whole lot of weight. It is just what it sounds like: like you are picking up a suitcase off the ground, except that you are going to pick up the kettlebell up off the ground. You are going to set the kettlebell right down by the center of your foot. You are going to follow the exact same deadlifting patterns. A big deep breath in through the nose, blow your air out through your mouth, breathe in again, so that you get that intra abdominal pressure, you are going to push back into your hips. When you feel your hamstrings kind of catch, you are going to squat down as you continue to push back into your hips the rest of the way to grab the bell. You are going to grab it in just one hand and you are going to stand up with it. Reverse the motion to put the weight back down and stay there for a moment and stand back up.
The reason that this is so challenging is because you are only holding the weight on one side, and that is going to make your body limited to this side, so you are resisting that lateral flexion when you are lifting the weight up. You can also do a double suitcase deadlift with kettlebells if you dont have access to a trap bar.As you can see, it is very similar. You are standing in between the handles, the handles are right outside of your legs and you are going to pick the weight up. This is a double deadlift. You can also do suitcase deadlift with barbells but keep in mind it is important to master the kettlebell first, as doing it with a barbell is extra challenging, because if you don't get your hand in exactly the right spot the weights are going to tip on you.
Find the most up-to-date and helpful resources for tackling body image struggles, pre- & postnatal training issues, and everything in between.
Whether you’re a health and fitness professional looking to level up your knowledge or a woman wanting to feel stronger, fitter, and more confident, get the advice you can trust from the experts at Girls Gone Strong.