Weighted Push-Ups with Backpack: Your Ultimate Fitness Hack

Fact Checked

Tonya McIntosh

Tonya McIntosh—The main person behind TGFFitness as its Founder and Chief Editor. Get to know more about Tonya


Are you tired of doing push-ups the same old way and looking for a new, more challenging exercise? Have you considered weighted push-ups with a backpack?

Using a backpack, we’ll explore how to perform weighted push-ups safely, the benefits you can expect, and how to avoid common mistakes.

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast looking for a new challenge or a beginner seeking to maximize your home workouts, this guide is for you.

So, if you’re ready to push your limits and transform your push-up routine, keep reading.

Key Takeaways
  • Weighted push-ups with a backpack can increase upper body strength.
  • Ensure the backpack is properly secured and well-fitted during the exercise.
  • Start with moderate weight and progress gradually, prioritizing safety.

Can you do weighted push-ups with a backpack?

Yes, you can definitely do weighted push-ups with a backpack!

Not only is it an effective and convenient way to add resistance to your push-up training, but it also offers some unique benefits compared to other methods, such as using a weighted vest.

Let’s dive into comparing weighted vests and the benefits of using a backpack for weighted push-ups.

Comparison with Weighted Vest

  • Adjustability: While weighted vests come with fixed weight increments, a backpack allows you to easily adjust the weight you add, depending on factors like your strength, goals, and the size of your backpack.
  • Cost: Backpacks are usually more affordable than weighted vests, especially considering that you might already have one lying around. On the other hand, weighted vests can be quite pricey.
  • Versatility: A backpack not only lets you perform weighted push-ups but can also be a handy addition to other bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and even pull-ups.

Benefits of Using a Backpack

  • Portability: A backpack is something you can easily carry around, making it a convenient option for working out when you’re traveling, at the park, or anywhere away from your usual gym setting.
  • Personalization: You can fill your backpack with various items to achieve your desired weight. Common options include books, water bottles, or sandbags. This helps you customize your workout according to your needs and progress over time.
  • Comfort: Since a backpack naturally sits on your back, you can strap it on tightly to ensure it doesn’t shift around during push-ups. This stability can be particularly beneficial when performing push-ups with added resistance.

The Best Way to Do Weighted Push-Ups with a Backpack

Get the Right Weight

To begin incorporating a backpack into your push-up routine, first gather the necessary weights or weight plates. House items like books or canned goods can also be used, but be sure they are evenly distributed within the backpack.

Take it slow (start with 10lbs)

When starting out, it’s important to take it slow and start with 10 lbs or less depending on your fitness level. As you build strength, you can increase the weight gradually.

Tighten the backpack straps

Before beginning your workout, tighten the backpack straps to ensure stability and reduce any unnecessary movement. This will also help to prevent strain or injury when performing weighted push-ups.

Start with planks

Before moving on to push-ups, practice holding a plank with the backpack on. This will help you get used to the additional weight and maintain proper form.

  • Get into a plank position with the backpack on your back
  • Keep your abs engaged and your body in a straight line
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds or as long as you can maintain good form

Maintaining safety

To ensure safety and prevent injury, always:

  • Use proper push-up technique, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart and your body in a straight line
  • Engage your core muscles and keep your head in a neutral position
  • Avoid locking your elbows at the top of the movement

Slowly add weight

As you improve and build strength, slowly add more weight to the backpack. Be sure to monitor your form and listen to your body, adjusting the weight as necessary.

Try a variety of push-ups

Variety is key to maintaining engagement and building strength. Once you’re comfortable with the added weight, try incorporating different types of push-ups, like:

  • Wide-grip push-ups
  • Narrow-grip push-ups
  • Decline push-ups
  • One-handed push-ups

How much weight can you put in a weight vest?

When using a weight vest, it’s essential to know how much weight you can comfortably and safely add.

Weight vests typically come in a variety of sizes and weight capacities.

Most vests range from 10 to 50 pounds in weight capacity. Some even allow you to add or remove weights according to your workout needs.

Factors to consider when adding weights:

  • Your fitness level: If you’re a beginner, start with a lower weight, like 10-15 pounds, to avoid unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints. As you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the weight.
  • Exercise type and intensity: The amount of weight you can safely add will vary based on the specific exercise you’re performing. For example, weighted push-ups may require less weight than squats or lunges due to the different muscle groups involved.
  • Safety: Always prioritize safety when adding weight to the vest. If the vest feels too heavy or uncomfortable, remove some weight and work gradually up to a higher resistance.

How do you keep the backpack from sliding?

Weighted push-ups with a backpack can be a great way to increase the intensity of your workout, but it can be challenging to keep the backpack from sliding during the exercise.

Below are some simple tips to help you keep the backpack stable so you can focus on your push-ups:

Choose the right backpack

Before you begin, ensure your backpack has a snug fit with adjustable straps. A well-fitting backpack will be more stable on your back.

Secure the backpack’s straps

Tighten the straps so the backpack sits high on your back, and use any additional straps or buckles to secure it. This will help keep the backpack from sliding down while you perform push-ups.

Consider using a non-slip surface

Place a yoga mat or other non-slip surface beneath you to help keep the backpack from moving around too much. This can provide added stability during your workout.

Distribute the weight evenly

If you’re adding weight to the backpack, ensure it’s evenly distributed to help keep it balanced. Use smaller weights or objects and arrange them in a balanced manner inside the pack.

Start with a lower weight

It’s important to start off with a manageable amount of weight as you might struggle to maintain balance. Gradually increase the backpack’s weight as you become more comfortable with the exercise and can keep the pack stable.

What do backpack weighted push-ups work?

Adding resistance to your regular push-up routine with the use of a weighted backpack is an excellent strategy.

This exercise targets a variety of muscles in your upper body, primarily focusing on the following muscle groups:

  • Chest: The pectoral muscles, specifically the pectoralis major, are the primary movers in the push-up. Adding weight to your backpack increases the resistance on the chest, helping to build strength and size.
  • Triceps: Your triceps are responsible for extending your elbows during the push-up. The added weight in the backpack places a greater demand on the triceps, further developing their strength and shape.
  • Deltoids: The push-up movement engages the anterior deltoids, which are the front part of your shoulder muscles. By adding weight to your backpack, you’ll challenge these muscles and promote growth.
  • Serratus Anterior: Commonly known as the boxer’s muscle, the serratus anterior assists in stabilizing the scapula during push-ups. With the added weight of a backpack, this muscle will have to work harder, leading to increased strength and definition.

In addition to these primary muscles, backpack weighted push-ups also engage several secondary muscles that assist during the movement, such as the latissimus dorsi, biceps, and various muscles in the core.

Weighted backpack exercises

Adding a weighted backpack to your push-ups is a fantastic way to intensify your upper body workout. This simple modification can significantly boost your overall strength and endurance.

To kick off, all you need is a backpack filled with an appropriate amount of weight. This could be books, water bottles, or weights – whatever is convenient for you.

Strap it onto your back, and you’re all set to power through your push-up routine.

Experiment with Push-Up Variations

To keep your workout engaging and target different muscle groups, consider incorporating various push-up variations.

Here are a few popular ones you can try with a weighted backpack:

  • T Push-Ups
  • One-Arm Push-Ups
  • Diamond Push-Ups

Incorporate Additional Exercises for a Balanced Workout

Push-ups are just the beginning. You can also integrate other weighted backpack exercises into your routine to balance your upper body workout.

  • Pull-ups and Rows: These exercises target your upper back and biceps.
  • Abdominal Holds: L-sits, V-sits, knee tucks, hanging variations, and planks work your core muscles.

Lower Body Workouts

Weighted backpacks aren’t just for upper-body exercises but can also add resistance to lower-body workouts.

Here are some effective lower-body exercises to try with a backpack:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Bridges
  • Calf Raises

Consider incorporating plyometric exercises, such as jump squats, box jumps, or jumping lunges, for an added challenge.

These can further improve your lower body strength and explosiveness.

Weighted backpack exercises you shouldn’t do

When incorporating a weighted backpack into your exercise routine, it’s essential to know which activities can be harmful and increase the risk of injury.

Here are exercises that should be avoided when using a weighted backpack:

LSD runs (Long, slow, distance)

Performing long, slow distance runs with a weighted backpack can increase the stress on your joints, potentially leading to injuries over time.

Instead, opt for short sprints or hill training to enhance strength and endurance without causing too much stress on your knees and ankles.


Adding extra weight to your backpack while performing head or handstands can be very dangerous, as it increases the pressure on your neck and spine.

Stick to bodyweight exercises for these movements to ensure proper form and safety.

High-Impact Activities

Activities with high-impact landings, such as box jumps, air lunges, frog jumps, and long jumps, can strain your knees significantly.

This strain is amplified when you’re wearing a weighted backpack, increasing the risk of injury during these exercises.

Instead of these high-impact movements, it’s advisable to focus on lower-impact exercises like step-ups or squat jumps to build lower body strength.

Can you do backpack weighted push-ups every day?

Yes, you can do backpack weighted push-ups daily. But remember, it’s important to avoid pushing yourself too hard to prevent injuries.

Before you jump into doing backpack weighted push-ups every day, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Recovery time: Your muscles need time to recover and repair after an intense workout. Pushing yourself too hard too fast may lead to overtraining and potential injury. It’s usually recommended to have at least 48 hours of rest between training the same muscle group.
  2. Balanced training: While push-ups are a great upper-body exercise, incorporating a variety of exercises targeting different muscle groups is crucial for overall functional strength and preventing muscle imbalances.
  3. Progressive overload: To continually see progress, gradually increase the weight or volume in your backpack to ensure your muscles are challenged over time.

So, while you can technically do backpack weighted push-ups every day, it’s essential to be mindful of recovery time and balance your workouts.

  • Aim for 3-4 weekly training sessions, with adequate rest days in between, to allow your muscles to recover and grow.
  • Mix in other exercises targeting different muscle groups for a well-rounded fitness routine.
  • Pay close attention to your form and stop right away if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Can you use dumbbells in your backpack?

es, you can use dumbbells in your backpack for weighted push-ups, but there are a few important considerations to keep in mind.

First, ensure your backpack is strong and durable enough to hold the added weight of the dumbbells without tearing or breaking.

An athletic or hiking backpack designed to carry heavy loads should be your top choice.

When adding dumbbells to your backpack, make sure to distribute the weight evenly to avoid discomfort or strain on your back. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Use smaller-sized dumbbells for better weight distribution.
  • Place a layer of padding or cushioning inside the backpack to protect your back from the dumbbells.
  • Secure the dumbbells tightly within the backpack to prevent them from moving around.

When doing push-ups with weights in a backpack, is it safe?

Proper Form and Technique

While doing push-ups with weights in your backpack, it’s very important to maintain proper form and technique.

  • Keep your core engaged and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your fingers pointing forward.
  • When lowering your body, keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your torso.
  • To avoid straining your shoulders, make sure they are stabilized and don’t shrug upwards towards your ears.
  • Distribute the weight in your backpack evenly and secure it tightly to prevent any sudden shifts during the exercise.

Avoiding Injuries

While doing weighted push-ups with a backpack can be safe, risks are involved if precautions aren’t taken. To minimize the likelihood of injury, consider the following:

  • Warm-up and stretch your muscles before starting your workout session. Focus on your shoulders, chest, and wrists.
  • Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase it as you build strength and become more comfortable with the exercise.
  • Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you experience pain or discomfort, stop the exercise, and consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider.
  • Strengthen your core and upper body through complementary exercises, like planks and pull-ups, to better support the added weight in your push-ups.

Can backpack push-ups build muscle?

Yes, incorporating backpack push-ups into your workout routine can definitely help you build muscle.

By adding extra weight to your push-ups with a backpack, you’re essentially increasing the resistance, which in turn helps promote muscle growth and strength development.

How effective are backpack weighted push-ups?

Backpack weighted push-ups can be a great addition to your workout routine, especially when you want to increase the intensity and challenge your upper body strength.

Here’s a friendly overview of how effective they are:

  • Increased resistance: Adding weight to your push-ups in the form of a backpack introduces extra resistance to the exercise, effectively targeting your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
  • Progressive overload: As you get stronger, you can gradually add more weight to your backpack, which follows the principle of progressive overload. This helps you avoid training plateaus and keeps your strength training dynamic.
  • Convenience: Using a backpack for weighted push-ups is convenient because you don’t need any special equipment. You can easily adjust the weight by adding or removing items from the backpack.

DIY Methods: Alternatives to weight plates

Using alternative weights in your backpack for weighted push-ups can be a budget-friendly and effective method for increasing the intensity of your workout.

Instead of investing in expensive weight plates, explore some household items for added resistance.

Here are some suggestions that can be used as alternatives for weight plates in your backpack:

A bunch of rice bags

Rice bags come in various sizes and weights, making them a versatile option for weighted push-ups.

Fill your backpack with different quantities of rice bags depending on your desired resistance level.

A collection of old textbooks

Textbooks can be quite heavy and are perfect for adding weight to your backpack.

Stack them horizontally so they distribute the weight evenly across the backpack, ensuring stability during your push-up exercises.

Concrete mix or sand from Home Depot

Another affordable and easily accessible option is using concrete mix or sand as weights.

You can purchase them in bulk quantities from any home improvement store like Home Depot.

Pour the concrete mix or sand into several plastic ziplock bags or containers to avoid spillage in your backpack.

A large water bottle

Large water bottles provide adjustable weight as you can increase or decrease the resistance by varying the amount of water.

Use a durable bottle suitable for carrying higher volumes of water, and ensure the lid is closed tightly to prevent leaks.

Weighted Backpack vs. Weighted Vest: Which is better?

When trying to intensify your push-up regimen, you might wonder whether to use a weighted backpack or a weighted vest. Both options have their pros and cons, so let’s discuss which might be better for you.

Weighted backpacks are often a more affordable and convenient option, as many people already own a backpack. By adding weights or heavy objects, you can increase the resistance in your push-ups.

However, the uneven weight distribution of a backpack can affect your form and lead to potential injuries. 

Additionally, heavier backpacks may not securely stay in place while performing push-ups, presenting an additional challenge.

On the other hand, weighted vests are specifically designed for exercise purposes, evenly distributing weight across your torso. 

This allows for better balance, stability, and a reduced risk of injury. Although they might be more expensive than a backpack, they generally offer greater comfort and adjustability.

So, to decide which option is better for you, consider the following factors:

  • Budget: If you’re on a tight budget, a weighted backpack may suffice, but if you can invest in a weighted vest, the benefits might outweigh the cost.
  • Weight distribution: If balanced resistance and form are a priority, a weighted vest offers more even distribution than a backpack.
  • Adjustability: Weighted vests often provide more options for adjusting weight, ensuring a customized workout tailored to your needs.
  • Comfort: For some, the ergonomic design of a weighted vest might be more comfortable than a backpack during push-ups.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
Chief Editor
Tonya McIntosh

Hello there! My name is Tonya McIntosh, and I’m the Founder and Chief Editor of TGFFitness. I’m also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer. With eight years of experience under my belt, I’ve found that one of the most common issues my clients struggle with is remaining consistent.

Finding your main motivator to keep going is easier said than done for Keep Reading.

Share this article