Does Carrying a Heavy Backpack Build Muscle? 

 June 17, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Carrying a backpack involves the use of the abdominal and back muscles, which are among the strongest muscles in the human body. But will carrying a heavy backpack help build muscle?

Carrying a heavy backpack strengthens the shoulder, trapezius, abdominal, middle, and lower back muscles. For this reason, carrying a significant load in your backpack regularly will build muscle in these areas though increasing load gradually is recommended, otherwise it can cause pain and injury.

If you’re interested to learn about how carrying a backpack will help build muscle, read on below.

Will Using a Heavy Backpack Build Muscle?

When you are carrying a heavy backpack, you may notice that it can sometimes cause strain in your back and shoulders – the same kind of strain when you’re working out.

That’s because using a heavy backpack involves certain muscle groups that strengthen and build over time. These include the shoulder, trapezius, lower and middle back, and abdominal muscles. When you walk or hike with a backpack, it then builds muscles in the legs too.

In fact, there’s a specific exercise called rucking which involves carrying a heavy backpack as you walk or hike. This is effective for building muscles all over the back and in your legs as well as burning calories.

For those who want to build muscle while carrying a heavy backpack, remember that you should start with a backpack weight that is only 10% of your own body weight to prevent injury. You can gradually increase the weight by 5 pounds each week until you get stronger.


Carrying a heavy backpack is a low-impact way to build muscle in your back and legs. This should be done carefully by gradually increasing the weight so as to avoid pain and injury.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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