Backpack Workout

This is a great full-body workout using stuff most of us have at home already.  No exercise equipment required!  And you can load up the bag with whatever you have and adjust the weight as needed.  Keep rest periods between sets about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  The workout should take about 30 minutes.

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat


You may use a chair or step to elevate the rear foot for this exercise.


Here I have front loaded the exercise with a backpack full of books.  Beginners may not need to load this exercise to find it challenging.


  1. Begin by placing the rear foot behind you on the step or chair.  If you choose a chair the top of your foot will be resting on the seat.

  2. Spread the front foot so that your weight is distributed behind big toe and little toe and heel is on the floor.  

  3. Take in a sharp breath through the nose and tuck your ribs toward your hips.  You should place yourself in a “canister” so that your ribs are stacked over your hips and not flared.

  4. Pull yourself downward and not back.  

  5. At the bottom of the descent push the floor away to return to standing and reset for the next rep.


Perform three sets of 10-12 on each side.

Staggered Stance Romanian Deadlift (or B-stance)


Here I am using a backpack full of books to weight this exercise.


  1. Begin by assuming a stance where your working foot is in the front and your back foot is parallel but only slightly behind you.  The rear foot is your “kickstand” foot.  Be sure the front foot is spread, with weight on mid to back foot. 

  2. Squeeze your armpits like you have oranges in them and you are squeezing them hard.

  3. Tuck your chin behind your chest. Take your sharp breath in through the nose and tuck the ribs.  You should be in a “canister” position with your ribs tucked down toward your hips and not flared.

  4. Drive your hips back, keeping in mind that your front leg is doing the majority of the work.  Be mindful not to bring your hips down into a squat.

  5. Push the floor away with the working foot and squeeze your glutes at the top before resetting for the next rep. 


Perform three sets of 10-12 on each side.

Negative Push-Up 


For this exercise you may perform full push-ups if desired but follow all the same cues.


  1. Begin the exercise in a push-up plank position.  Hands should be under shoulders.  Chin should be tucked.  Imagine you are a straight line from ears to heels.

  2. Take in a sharp breath.  Squeeze glutes and core.

  3. “Row” yourself down to the mat, maintaining this stacked position, not allowing the hips to sag toward the mat.  Lower for a count of 3-5.

  4. Repeat by starting in the push-up plank position.


Depending on your experience, perform 3 sets for 6-12 reps.

Single arm backpack rows


This is a row using a backpack full of books for resistance.  Load according to your ability.


  1. Use a seat or stool to rest the nonworking hand on.  Push hips back and keep chin tucked.

  2. Your nonworking side should be active.  Be sure to push the seat away so your shoulder remains engaged.

  3. Begin the row by initiating with the upper back.  Bring the shoulder blade toward the middle of the back.  Only bring the upper arm to your pockets and hold for a 1 count.

  4. Lower the backpack in a controlled manner to start position before resetting for the next rep.


Perform three sets of 10-15.

Dead Bugs


Head can be on the mat or off.  Be sure that if your head is off the mat your chin is tucked back.


  1. Knees are bent at 90 degrees.

  2. Take a breath in through the nose and feel ribs expand.  Tuck your ribs down.

  3. Exhale as you tap your heel and lower opposite arm and while keeping the ribs tucked down toward hips.

  4. Return to start position and reset.


Perform 3 sets of 8-10 on each side.

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