I exercise regularly, at home. I consider pull-ups and chin-ups to be the more important exercises in my regimen. Since I do strength training I tend to keep all exercises below 5 reps. When there came a point where I could do 4 sets of more than 5 reps per set of pull-ups and chin-ups I started putting weights in a backpack in order to increase the difficulty of the workout.

I've now reached a point where I lift myself 5 times (again 4 sets) with an extra 8.75kg(20lbs) on my back for pull-ups and 11.25kg(25lbs) for chin-ups. I've felt no side effects yet but still I feel like I need to ask in order to make sure I don't injure my back.

So, is what I'm doing a bad idea?

  • The more common terminology is 'reps' (repetitions) instead of lifts and 'sets' instead of series. Jan 9, 2015 at 11:56
  • @DaveLiepmann You're right. I'll edit my question.
    – Alternatex
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:11
  • Also, keep the backpack tight and close to your body to keep it from swinging around. A hiking backpack with a waist belt can handle additional weight comfortably.
    – Juan M
    May 10, 2015 at 1:46
  • I started with a backpack, but eventually you're going to need a weight belt as the weight increases. Nov 15, 2020 at 15:03

3 Answers 3


It doesn't sound bad. I recommend going above five reps for at least some sets, since I find the upper body responds well to higher volume and it's not the worst thing in the world to train some endurance. I expect you'll actually see better strength results that way anyway.

The more common method of loading pull-ups is to use a dip belt, but the backpack sounds like it's working well.

  • Good info. Also, seeing as the backback is about to reach it's weight limit (probably already has) I think I'll take a look at that dip belt thing.
    – Alternatex
    Jan 9, 2015 at 14:45

If you are not feeling pain, there is no reason to be concerned. Dip belts are good, you can also buy a weighted vest. That way the weight is more evenly distributed.


The only problem I can think of is one of weight distribution, once you add more and more you'll be shifting you're center of mass changing what muscles the exercise affects.

I'd suggest using a ankle weights if you have them, or alternatively use another backpack but reversed so it's on your chest and load that with about half the weight so that you're more balanced.

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