I received a lot of questions about “suitcase deadlifts” yesterday, including where I was traveling and why I needed to pack so much stuff. I coincidentally shot some quick and dirty video of my DL session yesterday, so here is one of my sets of suitcase DLs.
Take away the barbell, and these should look exactly like your normal deadlift. Same set-up position, same lumbar curve, same shoulder/scapular retraction. Because these are unilateral, however, they add a new dimension to the pull. You can’t allow your back to twist, and it’s even more challenging not to let that shoulder drop into the weight. These work your core in a serious fashion – you have to maintain a ton of tension so the weight doesn’t adjust your position throughout the movement.
Finally, while you can use a kettlebell or dumbbell for these, I prefer to use a standard barbell. For one, it looks bad-ass. More importantly, however, it provides yet another challenge, in that you have to manage the weight from the middle, and keep the barbell from tipping in either direction. This works my grip in a way that a kettlebell never could. In fact, I find grip to be my liming factor in this exercise, especially when performing them after a full set of normal deadlifts. By the fourth rep, I usually have to focus a lot of energy on just holding on to the bar.
Start adding these in as an assistance drill, or as a buy-in or cash-out durning your next deadlift day. And feel free to check off “constantly varied” that day.
No fun music or titles on this one – just a quick demo, with 75#. I cut the clip to show just one side, but obviously you want to do these both left and right. Also, I know it looks like I’m doing this little cheerleader shrug at the top, but I’m not. What I am doing is cranking down on my tricep and lat, to try to keep the bar from tipping forward or back.