The exercise I chose for this week is the kettlebell suitcase carry. I have found this exercise to be a great lateral core stability exercise which is comparable to side planks. It is simple to execute and only requires a few cues: maintain good posture (shoulders back and down), keep the core engaged (belly button in), and make sure the shoulders stay level (don’t let the KB pull you down to the side). With many of my older clients, side planks have been difficult to execute properly and are often dreaded. The suitcase carry has been a great addition since it is easier to complete and more enjoyable, but still works the same musculature. Stuart McGill recommends side plank variations for engaging the transverse abdominis since they best activate this muscle due to its fiber orientation.
To complete the kettlebell suitcase carry, select a kettlebell heavy enough to cause some degree of lateral tilt from the spine while standing tall. Before walking, make sure the body is in proper position from head to toe. Standing tall with the shoulder blades pulled back and down, pull the belly button in to keep the core engage, and keep the kettlebell hanging by your side (don’t swing it like the normal walking motion). Now walk at a comfortable speed while maintaining perfect posture. Notice the strain on the opposite lateral core muscles as your body is preventing the kettlebell from pulling your shoulder down towards the ground. It is important to think of your body as a glass of water. Stand tall with the shoulders level at all times and do not spill!
The suitcase carry works the muscles located on the outside of the core including: obliques, transverse abdominis, quadratus lumborum, and all the smaller spinal stabilizers that keep you upright. I have had good success using this exercises as a warm-up/core activation exercise. Once you find a weight that is heavy enough to stress the core, you will find heart rate will quickly rise.