I Only Have A Backpack To Train With, Will This Build Muscle? Add Weight To The Bag And You’re All Set To Grow!

If you’re self-isolating at home, well done! But just because you are indoors, doesn’t mean you can’t train and maintain your gains. By using simple household items, you can still workout and get those gains. If you don’t have weights at home: Use a loaded internal-frame backpack for resistance to help build strength.

Weighted backpack workouts are great for building muscle on the move or at home. All you have to do is fill it with heavy items like books or bottles of water and you’re ready to go. This workout is convenient, adaptable and most of all effective!

Fill an internal- frame backpack with 15 to 30 pounds of soft gear. Do the four pack-resistance exercises back to back with 30 seconds of rest between exercises. After completing the fourth exercise, rest one minute and then repeat the round. Do three total rounds.

1A. Weighted Plank

Targets: the core and back

How to:

  • Secure a weighted internal-frame pack to your back.
  • Get on all fours as if assuming a push-up position, but bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor.
  • Elbows should align directly under your shoulders, and your weight should be supported between your forearms and toes.
  • Brace your core and don’t allow your middle to sag.
  • Try to hold this position while breathing normally for 20 seconds, gradually working up to 60 seconds.


2A. Bear Hug Squat

Targets: the quads, hamstrings, chest, glutes and calves

How to:

  • Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, with your backpack sitting on the floor vertically between your feet.
  • Squat down and pull the pack up to your chest, hugging the pack with both arms and returning to the standing position.
  • This is the starting stance.
  • Keeping your head and back straight, push your hips back and slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor — your knees should be directly above your toes, but avoid letting them extend past your feet.
  • Then push yourself up into a standing position, knees unlocked, and repeat.
  • Do 10.


3A. Walking Lunge

Targets: the hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves

How to:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, wearing your loaded backpack.
  • Take a big step forward with your left leg and lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Your right leg should be bent at 90 degrees, its knee hovering just an inch or two above the floor.
  • Push off of your front foot and the ball of your back foot and take another big step forward with your right foot, immediately lowering your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • That’s one rep.
  • Do 10.


4A. Shucking

Targets: the lower back, hamstrings, quads, glutes and trapezius

How to:

  • Stand in front of your loaded backpack with feet more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Hinge at your waist to reach down and grab your backpack either by the straps or material.
  • Your knees should be slightly bent. Without standing up, swing the pack from foot to foot by transferring your body weight from one hip to the other.
  • Keep the weight on your heels and your shoulders down and back.
  • With each swing, you can touch the pack to the floor — but don’t let go of it.
  • Speed up as you become comfortable with the movement.
  • Shucking from one side to the other and back equals one rep.
  • Do 10.


1B. Backpack Push-up

Targets: the chest, shoulders, triceps and core

How to:

  • Secure a loaded backpack to your back.
  • Kneel on the floor and get into a push-up position with your arms straight, hands shoulder-width apart and your legs extended behind you, feet together.
  • (If this is too difficult, omit the weighted pack until you build up your strength.)
  • Bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest toward the ground and the slowly push yourself back up until your arms are straight (elbows unlocked).
  • Do 10 repetitions.


2B. Farmer’s Walk

Targets: the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, traps, forearms, calves and grip

How to:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the backpack lying on the floor horizontally in front of your feet.
  • Bend your knees and carefully lift the pack up, resting it in the crooks of your arms, close to your body.
  • Pushing off the balls of your feet, walk forward for 20 steps, turn around and walk back.
  • As strength builds, progress this exercise by pressing the backpack over your head before walking forward.


3B. Clean and Press

Targets: the whole body

How to:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the backpack lying on the floor in front of you.
  • Push your hips back, bend your knees and reach down to grab the top and bottom of your backpack with a strong grip.
  • In one explosive move, pull the backpack upward toward your shoulders by pushing your hips forward and driving your feet into the floor to straighten your legs.
  • As the pack reaches your chest, allow it to roll over your knuckles above your hands, and then press the pack over your head until your arms are straight.
  • Reverse the movement to return the pack to the floor.
  • Do 10.


4B. Windshield Wiper

Targets: the core muscles.

How to:

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Grab your loaded backpack with both hands and extend your arms above you.
  • Keeping the pack raised above you and your head and back flat on the floor, slowly pull your knees up and toward your left shoulder.
  • Slowly lower your legs to the left — keeping your feet from touching the floor — and then repeat the move, this time drawing your knees toward your right shoulder and toward the floor.
  • That’s one rep.
  • Do 10.


Weighted backpack training when you can’t get to the gym is great for maintain and building muscle mass when you don’t have the equipment to train. However, before you get started on these exercises, there are a few things to ensure before you begin:

  • Balance your backpack – Evenly spread the weight in your backpack to ensure a balanced workout.
  • Make sure your bag is closed – The last thing you want is objects flying everywhere during training.

Overall this is a top workout for anybody who can’t get to the gym, but still wants to workout. The great thing about backpack exercises is not only that you can train numerous muscle groups without having to change equipment. Not only that, you can change the weight as you see fit.