Tip: A Simple Way to Boost Total Body Strength

This looks easy, until you try it. Build your grip, strengthen your core, and jack up your heart rate with this exercise.

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The barbell suitcase iso-hold isn't fancy, but that's its beauty. It's one of the simplest ways to increase total body strength from the grip and core position.

Barbell Suitcase Iso-Hold

This is an "anti" position. Any time you can train the core in one of these positions while challenging grip strength and full body tension, consider it a catch-all movement: something worth prioritizing.

How to Do It

  1. Step into a rack or set up where the bar is slightly elevated.
  2. Grab the middle of the barbell and pick it up.
  3. Keep it at your side and hold it for 20-60 seconds at a time.
  4. Your body should be in a neutral position with the feet under hips, glutes squeezed, core engaged, and the opposite arm squeezed with a fist and held out to around 45 degrees to build even more tension. From there, you simply hold.

What Makes This So Tough?

The length of the bar and the end loading that takes place when weights are added to the collars makes this a killer. Can you just use dumbbells instead? Not if you want all the benefits. The barbell is what makes this so awesomely challenging.

By grabbing in the middle of the bar, your grip is produced globally from the entire upper extremity. It dictates whether or not you can hold the load and stabilize it equally from front to back. If your wrist position isn't perfect the bar will drift. If your thumb and index fingers are firing hard and your other three digits are lacking, the bar will fall backwards. It's self-limiting feedback, which is priceless for improving grip force recruitment.

If you've never experimented with this, you'll be blown away at the sympathetic response. In just a few rounds on both sides, your heart rate will be skyrocketing, your core and glutes will burn, and you may even get a little bit of a shake. Perfect. That's the type of response that builds grip and full-body strength.