Dumbbell suitcase carry exercise
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Dumbbell suitcase carry

Exercise details

  • Target muscles: None; see synergists and important stabilizers
  • Synergists: Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings, Quadriceps (Rectus Femoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius), Adductor Magnus, Soleus, Gastrocnemius
  • Important stabilizers: Wrist Flexors, Upper and Middle Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids, Erector Spinae, Rectus Abdominis, Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum, Psoas Major
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Pull

Starting Position

  1. Stand holding a heavy dumbbell in your non-dominant hand.
  2. Engage your core so that you can stand straight. Do not lean towards one side.


  1. Keeping your body straight and back neutral, breathe normally as you walk in a straight line for the prescribed distance.
  2. At the end of the walk, squat down to lower the dumbbell to the floor. Switch and stand on the other side of the dumbbell.
  3. Squat, pick the dumbbell up with your dominant hand, and walk back to the starting mark.
  4. Repeat until you meet the desired distance.

Comments and tips

  • Use the dumbbell suitcase carry to develop your core stability and grip strength.
  • The dumbbell suitcase carry is important for functional fitness because it mimics movement patterns used in daily life (e.g. carrying a suitcase or a gym bag).
  • The non-dominant hand is usually weaker than the dominant hand is since it is used less in daily activities. Since the dumbbell suitcase carry is a unilateral exercise, it can mitigate the strength difference between the two sides. This is why the non-dominant hand goes first. When carrying the dumbbell with your dominant hand, do not walk a distance farther than your non-dominant hand can carry.
  • Choose a dumbbell that is heavy enough to create resistance when you carry it. However, it shouldn’t be so heavy that it keeps you from being able to maintain an upright torso.
  • For the safety of your knees, do not turn while carrying a heavy dumbbell. That’s why you are instructed to set the dumbbell down, turn, and pick the dumbbell up with your opposite hand.
  • Keep a neutral back and engage your core throughout the exercise.
  • You can put your free hand on your head instead of keeping it by the side of your body if you want to isolate your core more.
  • The dumbbell suitcase carry is also known as the loaded carry or the one-arm farmer’s carry.
  • See also the dumbbell overhead carry and the dumbbell farmer’s walk.

Dumbbell suitcase carry video


ExRx.net, Articulations

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