Suitcase Crunches (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)
Suitcase Crunches are a slightly advanced variation of regular crunches. By keeping your feet off the ground throughout the movement, the lower abs (and hip flexors) are much more involved.
In this article, I’m going to teach you how to do Suitcase Crunches, what muscles they work and some alternatives in case you need them.
How To Do Suitcase Crunches
- Abdominal Core Muscles (Rectus Femoris, Obliques Externus Abdominus)
- Quadriceps, Rectus Femoris
- Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL)
- Start by sitting on the ground, balancing on your butt with legs and back up off the ground.
- Legs should be almost straight, feet roughly six inches off the ground. Torso should be leaned back at about a 30-degree angle.
- From the starting position, crunch up, bringing the knees and chest together above the hips (like a suitcase shutting)
- Lower back to the starting position and repeat until all reps are completed. (Feet and back should stay off the ground throughout the movement)
If you keep your feet uncrossed during the movement, your groin will be forced to stay engaged. This creates a small added bonus to the exercise.
How Many Reps Should I Do?
The question I get more than any other.
I like to incorporate Suitcase Crunches as part of a core circuit at the end of a workout, paired up with a few other bodyweight core exercises.
In this situation, you can do sets of 20 or 25. Pair these up with a few other movements and shoot for 100 to 150 reps total. If that sounds like a lot, then start small, maybe 50 reps total. Then add more volume as you improve.
Suitcase Crunch Variations
With a few small tweaks you can add some variation to your Suitcase Crunches. Here are a couple ideas to get you going.
Weighted Suitcase Crunch
Up the challenge to your Suitcase Crunches by adding some extra resistance. This can come in the form of a plate, dumbbell or medicine ball. Hold the weight just over your chest and perform the reps exactly the same.
Alternating Suitcase Crunch
Alternating Suitcase Crunches are very similar to Bicycle Crunches.
Start balanced up on your hips just as with regular Suitcase Crunches. However, instead of bringing both knees in, only bring one knee towards the chest. At the same time rotate the upper body so that the opposite elbow meets the knee in the middle of the rep.
Lower back to the starting position (keep the back and feet off the ground throughout) and repeat on the other side. Alternate back and forth until all reps are completed.
Suitcase Crunch Alternatives
If you can’t do Suitcase Crunches, for whatever reason, or you just want to try something different – here are a few alternatives that you can try.
Hanging Knee Raises
If Suitcase Crunches are an advanced version of regular crunches, then Hanging Knee Raises could be considered an advanced version of Suitcase Crunches. They also emphasize the lower abdominals.
You’ll need a pull-up bar to hang from. Use an overhand grip, engage your lats and hang. From this starting position, raise your knees above waist height and lower back down.
I’ve mentioned crunches a few times already and if you need a more beginner-friendly version of Suitcase Crunches, then regular Crunches are a great alternative.
Lay on your back with knees bent and feet off the ground. Place your hands beside your ears. Crunch up by raising your shoulder blades off the ground, bringing your shoulders toward your knees.
More Links and Info
Suitcase Crunches are one of my favorite core movements to program. I even picked them as one of my favorite core exercises for football players.
If you want more ideas to incorporate into your ab training then check out the Core Section in the Exercise Library. You’ll find step-by-step instructions for more core movements, all for free.