Choosing Your Starting Weight for Rucking: A Guide for Beginners

What is rucking?

Stepping back for a moment, it’s important to clarify what we mean when we talk about rucking. In essence, rucking is simply walking with a weighted pack on your back. It’s a type of exercise that boosts your strength and cardio quite effectively. The core concept stems from military training where soldiers are required to march with heavy packs for long distances.

But don’t get the wrong idea—rucking isn’t limited to the military scene. It’s become widely popular among the mainstream workout community. The rucking movement has quickly grown in popularity due to its simplicity and superior results compared to traditional workouts. All you need is a decent backpack and some weight—this could be anything from special weight plates designed for rucking to household items such as books or water bottles.

Rucking on a regular basis increases the demands on your cardiovascular and muscular systems. This not only helps to increase your endurance but also build lean muscle mass. Adding such load forces your body to work harder with each step, leading to a higher calorie burn compared to regular walking.

Just imagine this: rucking for an hour can burn up to three times the calories of walking at the same speed! Talk about efficiency! It’s walked its way (pun intended) into countless workout regimes because it’s practical, versatile, and downright effective.

As you prepare to get started with rucking, bear these qualities in mind. They’ll come in handy as you learn to adapt to the increased demands of moving with extra weight.

Benefits of rucking

Rucking goes beyond a simple backpack-weighted walk in the park. It’s a full-body exercise that has a myriad of benefits. What makes it a standout from traditional workouts is its effectiveness and efficiency. In simpler terms, rucking gives you more bang for your buck!

Cardiovascular Fitness: When you’re rucking, your heart rate increases due to the extra weight. This makes your body work harder resulting in an effective cardio workout. Now, believe it or not, rucking can increase your cardiovascular fitness by up to 50% when compared with regular walking.

Let’s take a look at the difference between rucking and regular walking:

ActivityCalories Burned (per hour)

Increases Muscular Endurance: Rucking requires your body, especially your back and shoulders, to bear an external load for a prolonged period of time. This results in increased muscular endurance. So if you’re looking to get swole, rucking might be your ticket!

Joint Friendly: Despite the added weight, rucking is surprisingly gentle on your joints. In fact, it’s less damaging than running. So, it’s a great way to reap the benefits of a rigorous cardio workout without the harsh impact on your joints.

Cognitive Benefits: Rucking not only benefits your body, but also your brain! Studies have shown that regular exercise like rucking can help improve your cognitive functions leading to better memory, sharper focus, and decreased stress levels.

So, if you’re looking to spice up your exercise routine or want a workout that’s joint-friendly, then rucking might be just the thing for you. With the right pack, good posture, and the correct weight, you’re well on your way to attaining your fitness goals with rucking.

Factors to consider when choosing a rucking weight

When setting out on your rucking journey, the right weight to carry is crucial. It’s not just about strapping any old weight to your back and hitting the trail. Several factors must be assessed when you’re determining what weight to start rucking for maximum benefits and minimal risk of injury.

Your current fitness level sits atop the list of considerations. If you’re new to fitness or have been inactive for a while, it’s smart to begin with a lighter weight. Try starting with a pack that’s only about 10% of your body weight. Those who are more conditioned can begin with 20-25% of their body weight.

Another key consideration is the type of terrain you’ll be traversing. If you plan to hike on steep trails, that’ll put more strain on your muscles and joints. You might want to opt for a slightly lighter load in such scenarios. On the other hand, if you’re walking on flat paths, you can afford to add a bit more weight.

Your goals also matter. If you’re rucking to build strength, a heavier pack might be more suitable. However, if you’re aiming to increase endurance or lose weight, a moderate load spread over a longer distance would be optimal.

Once you feel comfortable with a specific weight, you can gradually increase it. A good benchmark is to add weight when you can complete your regular route without feeling overly exerted. Keep in mind that choosing the right weight is not about showing off or pushing your limits to the extreme. It’s about challenging your body in a gradual, safe, and effective manner.

Fitness levelStart with 10-25% of your body weight depending on your fitness level
TerrainAdjust weight according to the difficulty of terrain
GoalsStrength building may require heavier pack while endurance or weight loss may benefit from moderate loads

Throughout your rucking journey, pay attention to your body’s cues. If you’re constantly fatigued, experiencing muscle aches or joint pain, it might be time to reassess your load. Above all, remember that rucking is about enjoying the journey, not just reaching the destination. As with any fitness regimen, patience and consistency are key.

Start light and gradually increase

Contrary to popular belief, rucking isn’t a race to see who can carry the heaviest load quickest. It’s actually about starting with a light weight and gradually increasing. As a beginner, it’s crucial to start with a weight that’s manageable for your current fitness level.

Customers often ask should they start with 10 lbs, 20 lbs, 30 lbs, or even more? The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. Instead, it’s catered to your personal fitness history and goals.

Have a look at the suggested weights for beginners based on fitness levels:

Fitness LevelStarting Weight
Low10-15 lbs
Moderate15-25 lbs
High25-35 lbs

Note: Above weights are just a starting point. Consult with a fitness expert if you’re unsure about what’s safe for you.

As you commence with your weight, it’s essential to also consider the type of terrain you’ll be rucking on. Over flat terrain? A heavier weight might be manageable. Tackling hills? You might want to shave a few pounds off your rucksack’s weight to prevent undue strain on your body.

Gradually increasing the weight is the key to reaping optimal benefits from rucking. Adding too much weight too soon can lead to a higher risk of injury. So how do you increase the weight correctly? Add no more than 10% of your current weight each week. For instance, if you’re currently rucking with 20 pounds, increase by 2 pounds for the following week.

Patience is your friend in the world of rucking. It’s not about getting to the heaviest possible weight. What matters is developing your strength, endurance, and overall fitness level over time. Listen to your body’s cues and ensure you’re challenging yourself without risking injury or fatigue. This way, you’ll be hitting new personal records in no time.

Listen to your body

No fitness guide or general rule can replace the importance of listening to your body. When it comes to determining the right weight for rucking, your body’s feedback should guide you. This approach not only ensures a safe rucking experience but also a more personalized one.

For example, if you start out with the recommended beginner’s weight, but find you’re struggling to complete your routes, it’s a clear sign you need to lighten your load. On the other hand, if you breeze through your workouts without breaking a sweat, it might be time to add some extra weight.

Overexertion is something you must guard against when rucking. The overuse of muscles, tendons, and ligaments can lead to potentially severe injuries such as sprains, strains or even fractures. These are signs you’ve gone too heavy, too fast.

  • Sharp, sudden pain during your ruck
  • Constant aches or soreness in joints and muscles after rucking
  • Difficulty maintaining good posture or proper form
  • Decreased distance or speed during your rucks

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, reduce the weight you’re carrying and allow your body some time to recover. Remember, rucking is a marathon, not a sprint; pacing yourself is crucial to long-term progress.

By contrast, there’s also such a thing as underloading. This is when the pack weight isn’t challenging your body adequately. You’re missing opportunities for improvement and your progress will be slow.

So, how do you determine if you’re in the underloading zone? Watch out for these cues:

  • You easily complete your route but aren’t even slightly winded
  • Limited or no muscle fatigue after your ruck
  • No improvement in rucking time, even after several workouts


Navigating the rucking world can be a bit challenging, but you’ve got the essentials down. Remember, it’s all about starting light and gradually upping the ante. Don’t rush to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Instead, take it slow, listen to your body, and adjust accordingly. Whether it’s an uphill climb or a stroll in the park, your ruck weight should match your fitness level and the terrain. Be mindful of the signs of overexertion and underloading, and don’t forget to add no more than 10% of your current weight each week. With patience and persistence, you’ll find your sweet spot and make strides in your rucking journey. Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, it’s time to strap on that rucksack and hit the trail. Happy rucking!

What factors should I consider when choosing a rucking weight?

Consider your current fitness level, the type of terrain, and your body’s response. Start with light weights and increase gradually. Both underloading and overloading can impede your progress or lead to injuries.

What is the suggested starting weight for beginners?

The suggested starting weight varies based on individual fitness levels. However, the general advice is to start light and increase gradually.

How often should I increase my rucking weight?

Increase your rucking weight by no more than 10% of your current weight each week to avoid injury.

What are the signs that I’ve gone too heavy?

Overexertion can lead to injuries. Signs may include undue tiredness, inability to maintain rucking speed or good posture, excessive sweating, and painful joints or muscles.

What are the cues for underloading?

Underloading could hinder your progress. If the rucking expedition seems particularly effortless or your progress stalls, you may need to increase your weight.


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