What Is The Difference Between A Suitcase Carry And A Farmers Carry?

December 6, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “what is the difference between a suitcase carry and a farmers carry?”. I will also be outlining the nuances of the two exercises. They are similar in being loaded carries, but also very different. 

What Is The Difference Between A Suitcase Carry And A Farmers Carry?

The most obvious difference between the two exercises is that a suitcase carry involves carrying a load with just one hand. It is akin to how you would carry a suitcase, hence the name.

A farmers walk involves carrying two loads – one is each hand. With the farmers walk you can go a lot heavier and engage a lot more overall muscle mass. Because you are using heavier weights with the farmers walk, your grip will be taxed more.

The suitcase carry works your core a lot harder to stabilise the weight when you are walking. In particular, your obliques are worked incredibly hard. Therefore, progressing on the suitcase carry will certainly bulletproof your core.

Can’t Go As Heavy On Suitcase Carries

As suitcase carries require a lot more core stabilisation, you can’t go as heavy on them. The suitcase carry is brutally tough on the core muscles. Because you will be using lighter weights than farmers carries, your grip won’t get taxed as hard.

You have a choice regarding the implement that you use for the suitcase carry. Dumbbells and kettlebells are most common. For an extra challenge you could use a sandbag with a handle or a smaller barbell.

A good way to train the suitcase carry is to use it as a conditioning exercise. You can do laps for time and work on progressing the time and the weight. 
suitcase carry

Suitcase Carries Target The Obliques More

As you are holding a weight with just one arm at your side, you will target the obliques to a far greater degree with the suitcase carry.

There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that light suitcase carries can be therapeutic for people who suffer from mild lower back pain. Personally I wouldn’t advise heavy suitcase carries for people with lower back pain.

The farmers walk is a safer exercise for people with lower back issues as the weights are more evenly distributed and there is less core engagement required. 

If you want to get a super strong core then suitcase carries are one of the best exercises to include in your workout routine.

Farmers Carry Works A Lot More Muscle Mass

The farmers walk or famers carry works a lot more muscle mass. This is due to the sheer loading potential of this exercise. You can load it using a trap bar, heavy dumbbells or even a dedicated farmers walk loading frame. 

Hardcore gyms have this specialised piece of equipment for the farmers walk. This is what many strongmen competitors use in their training. Because you can go so heavy on the farmers walk, you can engage a lot more overall muscle mass than the suitcase carry.

There is a greater stimulus on the traps and the forearms with the farmers carry. In addition you will find that your upper back will be even more sore than it would be with the suitcase carry variation. 

The farmers walk is a fantastic full body exercise that is great for strength and conditioning. You should only go very heavy on this movement if you have no pre existing injuries such as a bad lower back. 

Important Point On Suitcase Carries

There is an important point that I would like to make regarding suitcase carries. That is that you shouldn’t rush this exercise and walk too fast. It is better to focus on using this exercise to tax your grip and strengthen your core at the same time.

By the same token, try not to let the weight rest on your legs when doing suitcase carries. This will lessen the effectiveness of the exercise. Doing the movement in the manner as shown in the video below is a great way to get the most benefit out of the suitcase carry.

Should You Use Straps On Carries?

Some people choose to use straps on farmers carries and suitcase carries. In my view, this is a mistake. It is important to use the exercise to make your grip stronger and your forearms grow.

Having a stronger grip is incredibly functional and will benefit you in virtually all other movements. Therefore, why should you short-change yourself by using straps?

The only time you should consider using straps on carries is if you are already doing a high volume of loaded carries in your training. Then straps could be beneficial to avoid tearing your hands up too much.

Final Thoughts

What is the difference between a suitcase carry and a farmers carry? Now you have gotten to the end of my article and should know all the key differences.

I am going to outline the key points again now. Firstly, a suitcase carry involves carrying a load in just one hand as opposed to both hands. With the farmers carry, you carry a load in each hand.

As a consequence, the farmers carry will allow you to handle heavier weights and there are specific implements that allow you to do farmers walks with incredibly heavy weights!

Therefore, the farmers carry will engage a lot more muscle mass and induce a greater overall stimulus for growth. The suitcase carry is better suited for core training and general conditioning.

You should avoid using straps on all loaded carries unless you are already doing a high volume of carries in your training or a high volume of pulling work in general. 

If you have any comments on my article please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> Farmers Walk With Dumbbells

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