Focus on Fitness > Backpack Workout

Focus on Fitness

By Kelly James-Enger, ACE-CPT
Backpack and chalkboard

With the start of school, you can’t miss kids heading off, laden down with backpacks filled with books, paper, pens, and sack lunches. But a trusty backpack can do more than tote kids’ essential school supplies. It’s the perfect workout tool as well.

Backpack Workout

An empty backpack only weighs a couple of pounds, but a well-made one can easily hold more than 30 pounds, which makes it a great weight-lifting tool. A sturdy backpack and a pile of books are all you need for an effective workout.

One of the latest trends in fitness is using sandbags for strength training. Unlike using dumbbells, which are evenly weighted, the moving sand forces your body to continually adjust and stabilize as you lift it. A backpack mimics that same effect, which makes it a great training tool for strength moves. And with a backpack, you can easily add or take away weight, depending on how strong you are and what muscles you’re targeting.


This backpack workout is simple, but it will target all your major muscle groups. Choose a backpack that is in good shape, with no rips or tears, and tuck in any hanging straps to make it safer to use. Then load it with books to reach the desired weight for each move. Make sure that you always have a good grasp on it as you perform these moves.


Aim for the suggested 8–12 repetitions, but if you can’t do eight, just do as many as you can. Start with one set; as you gain strength you can progress to two sets, and/or increase the weight of the backpack to further challenge yourself.


Backpack Lunge, Row and Curl

backpack exercising

Backpack Overhead Press, Push-up and Crunch

backpack exercising
backpack exercising
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