5 Benefits of Single Arm Suitcase Deadlift & Target Muscles.

suitcase deadlift

Those who are looking to have a break with conventional deadlift should try Single-Arm Suitcase Deadlift, it’s a great exercise that can improve the overall athletic performance.

Single-arm suitcase deadlift is a unilateral movement that not only benefits the core stability and strength but it is also proven to be a great alternative to the conventional benefits, it will activate the stabilizer muscles that plays important role in improving body balance, posture, and agility.

What is Suitcase Deadlift?

As the name suggests, it’s about lifting weight similar to how you lift the suitcase. So, Suitcase Deadlift is basically a one hand Deadlift where you carry a barbell by your side. If you are the one who aspires to squat or Deadlift heavy then you must have strong obliques.

Suitcase Deadlift is one of the most underrated forms of Deadlift which 90% people have never tried, even I never used to perform this form of Deadlift until I came to know about its benefits.

Many people rely on side bend exercise to strengthen their oblique, but those movements aren’t enough to strengthen your body’s core. Here are introducing you a wonderful exercise that won’t just develop good looking oblique but will also help in improving your Squat and Deadlift.

How Does It Work?

The main difference between suitcase Deadlift and the conventional Deadlift is you hold the barbell at your side instead of holding it in front.

Due to the change in gripping style, it dramatically changes its effects on the body. When you carry the barbell at your side instead of holding it in a conventional style, you compel your obliques to work, to maintain the body’s centers of mass.

This is the way you activate strength in your abs and oblique. This ultimately leads to better lifting capability while performing compound exercises like deadlift and squats.

Muscle Group It Affects

Since suitcase Deadlift is another form of conventional Deadlift it’s obvious to have the benefits of conventional deadlifting and few other additional benefits due to the difference in style.

Suitcase Deadlift tends to put more pressure on your delts, abs and obliques, and relieving the pressure from the spine. But that doesn’t mean it won’t have the benefits of conventional Deadlift.

Single Arm Suitcase Deadlift muscle Worked.

  • Obliques
  • Abs
  • Deltoids
  • Glutes
  • Hamstring
  • Quadriceps
  • Whole hip complex
  • Grip strength
suitcase deadlift muscles worked
suitcase deadlift muscles worked

how to do suitcase deadlift


  • There is no specific barbell for suitcase Deadlift. It can be performed with barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.
  • If you are a beginner, then we would suggest you try suitcase Deadlift with dumbbell or kettlebell. Due to their small surface area and better center of mass, it’s easier for the body to lift them.
  • For those who are looking to add some resistance to their suitcase Deadlift should go for the barbell. Balancing the barbell with one hand can be extremely difficult and would provide you extra resistance to perform this exercise.

Let’s understand how to execute it.

  • Place the dumbbell or kettlebell next to your leg.
  • Bend your legs in a perfect deadlifting position, with the shoulders wide apart, chest up and straight back.
  • Hold the dumbbell or kettlebell as you want to grab the suitcase naturally.
  • Tighten your abs to give support to your spine.
  • Pull the hip forward and bring your body to an upright position.
  • Make sure your body is stable without any tilt towards either side.
  • Elbows should be locked, don’t try to lift the weight through your arms.
  • Put the dumbbell or kettlebell down while maintaining the correct body posture.
  • Perform 6-8 reps.

5 Benefits of Suitcase Deadlift

1# Alternative To Conventional Deadlift

Everyone should be doing Deadlift, for me, it’s the best compound exercise that works on your whole body. But for a few people this isn’t possible, due to lack of flexibility and hip mobilization; performing a correct form of conventional Deadlift is almost impossible for many people.

For those who are unable to perform conventional Deadlift, this suitcase Deadlift is a perfect answer to those. We all are used to of lifting things in suitcase-style, whether it’s a bucket of water or a bad, our body is quite familiar with this movement. That’s what makes it perfect for the beginners.

If you are the one with poor hip mobility but you still want to enjoy the benefits of deadlifting then suitcase Deadlift can be the perfect solution. It will strengthen your hamstring, glutes, quads, abs, obliques, delts and grip strength.

2# Stronger core

We have been talking about this since the beginning, your obliques will be required to work extra mile for the body balancing.

Idea is while lifting the weight through your one hand, you put more emphasis on your oblique by shifting the center of mass of the body. Performing long sets of side dumbbells aren’t enough to strengthen your core muscle.

Additionally, the stronger core is key to better performance. Whether you want to lift heavier or want to perform body exercises like a human flag, without stronger core you won’t be able to accomplish your goal.

3# Better stability

Through suitcase Deadlift, you are training your body to stay stable and balanced in adverse condition by changing its center of mass.

4# Great impact on glutes, hamstring, and quads

We have been discussing about the stronger core that will be achieved through suitcase deadlift, but no one shall underestimate its effects on the lower body as well.

Your glutes, hamstring, and quads come into action while lifting the dumbbell up from the ground. The only disadvantage is you won’t be able to lift as much as you can lift in conventional Deadlift. So you can expect the impact to be not as good as conventional Deadlift, but if you are unable to perform conventional Deadlift due to lack of hip mobility then suitcase Deadlift is surely a great option.

5# Bigger forearms

Suitcase Deadlift works great on your two muscle groups from your forearm, which is “Hand flexor and hand extensors”. Due to this obvious reason, suitcase Deadlift works great for bigger forearms and better gripping capability.

If you want to put some extra pressure on your forearms, then try using a barbell instead of using dumbbell or kettlebell. Balancing the barbell with a single hand can be challenging but proven to be very effective in the development of strong forearms.

For more, check out the video below.

Suitcase Deadlift with kettlebell

Full guide to suitcase Deadlift-

Essential suitcase deadlift accessories.

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