Mastering Rucking: A Guide to Choosing and Increasing Your Rucking Weight

Why Rucking is a Great Way to Get Fit

Rucking is a practical, straightforward, and effective way to improve your fitness. It’s not just about carrying a heavy backpack and walking. When done correctly, it presents a full-body workout, especially for your core, back, shoulders, and legs. It also enhances cardiovascular endurance.

Rucking is an excellent workout for you, regardless of fitness level or age. You can adjust it easily to meet your fitness goals – if you are a beginner, start with a lighter load and gradually increase the weight as your fitness level improves.

Rucking also burns more calories than regular walking. For instance, a 200-pound person walking at 3 mph for an hour burns around 320 calories. However, the same person rucking with a 30-pound backpack at the same pace burns roughly 500 calories per hour. Below is a simple illustration:

WeightPaceDurationCalories Burned
200 lbs3 mph60 mins320
200 lbs (+30 lbs backpack)3 mph60 mins500

The fact that rucking is low impact means it’s an approachable exercise for everyone. With rucking, there’s a much lower risk of injury than running, for example, because you’re not subjecting your joints to a high-impact movement.

Mental toughness plays a significant role in rucking too. Hoisting a bag on your back and heading out on a long ruck builds resilience and grit. Ultimately, it’s a challenge not just to your body but also to your mind.

Another interesting thing about rucking is that it’s an excellent way to socialize. Remarkably, there are rucking clubs all over the country where you can join others for rucks, learn new routes, and even participate in rucking challenges.

You’ll soon realize that rucking doesn’t really feel like exercise – it’s more about heading outside, getting some fresh air and drenching your body in sweat, all at your pace. Doesn’t that sound great?

Factors to Consider When Determining Ruck Weight

When it comes to determining the right weight for your ruck, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Several factors such as your physical fitness level, duration and intensity of rucking, and the terrain will influence the weight you should carry.

First off, consider your physical fitness level. If you’re new to rucking, it’s best to start with a lighter load. You don’t want to strain yourself immediately! A recommended starting point is a bag which weighs about 10% of your body weight. As your strength and endurance build, feel free to add more weight gradually. Remember, the key is to challenge yourself without risking injury.

Next, think about the duration and intensity of your rucking workout. If you are planning a longer outing or planning to carry it with high intensity, you might want to lighten your load. No need to burden yourself with a heavy backpack for a long time period. It’s all about balance. So if you’re rucking for shorter durations or if you’re not planning to go all out, feel free to load up a bit more.

Last but not least, consider the terrain. If you’re hiking a trail with steep inclines or uneven ground, a lighter pack can make the trek easier and safer. Conversely, if you’re sticking to flat, even ground, you might be able to handle a heavier load.

Looking into these factors before hitting the trail will help ensure you get the most out of your ruck workout. It’s always better to start light and add more weight as your body adapts. Listen to your body and adjust the weight as necessary. You want to make sure your rucking workouts are challenging enough to improve your fitness, but not so tough that they’re causing you harm.

Fitness Level

Your current level of fitness has a critical impact on the weight you should be rucking. Physical fitness is paramount when trying to establish your ideal rucking weight. This extends to your cardiovascular capacity, strength, and endurance levels.

Starting out, you shouldn’t underestimate the demanding nature of rucking. It’s more than just a leisurely walk in the park. Even fit individuals might find themselves huffing and puffing under a weighty rucksack. That’s why beginners, regardless of their strength levels, should get a feel for rucking with a lighter load.

To give you an idea, a newbie might consider starting with 10% of their body weight. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d start with a 15-pound rucksack. This is not an exact science, but it’s a good ballpark to start from.

As you progress, you can gradually ramp up the weight as your body adapts to the challenges of rucking. It’s recommended to increase the weight by two to five pounds at a time. Listen to your body, notice the feedback it gives you, and use that information to optimize your load.

However, if you’re already an experienced rucker or have a high level of fitness, you might be able to handle and benefit from heavier weights. Some experienced ruckers carry as much as 35% of their body weight.

Remember, the goal is not to carry as much as possible, but to provide a challenge that improves both your strength and cardiovascular conditioning, without risking injury. So, it’s vital to consider your fitness level and comfort while rucking. After all, the essence of rucking lies in the balance between challenge and enjoyment. A misplaced focus on ego or competition might make you lose sight of this.

Ultimately, at every fitness level, basic principles for safe and effective rucking remain the same: start small, increase gradually, listen to your body, and prioritize your health. As your fitness level increases, so too can your rucking weight.


Knowing your individual rucking goals is key to determining the right weight for you. Sure, you’ll get advice from fellow ruckers and fitness enthusiasts. However, remember that your body is unique. It’s crucial to respect your body’s limits and work towards your personal fitness goals gradually.

Maybe you’ve been inspired to take up rucking by a friend who can carry a 30-pound pack with ease. But before you pressure yourself to match that, remember that everyone’s journey is different. Perhaps your initial goal is to complete a 2-mile ruck with a 10-pound pack. Eventually, you might aim for a 5-mile ruck with a 20-pound pack. These goals are realistic and achievable if you’re patient with yourself and consistent in your efforts.

Participating in a ruck event? Event-specific training guidelines offer a useful benchmark. But don’t sacrifice your health to meet an arbitrary standard. The primary goal should be to train safely and progressively, preparing your body to handle the increased demands successfully.

Let’s not forget the relation between rucking goals, weight, and fitness level. For instance, if your target is to enhance overall fitness, a pack weighing 10%-20% of your body weight could be your starting point. For weight loss or increased endurance, you might consider a slightly higher weight – but be sure to gauge your comfort and capacity first.

What if you’re an experienced rucker desiring to push your limits? Perhaps you’re eyeing a grueling endurance event like a GORUCK Heavy. Increasing your pack weight could help you prepare. But it’s essential to do so mindfully and incrementally. Forget drastic increases that could put excessive strain on your body. Instead, focus on small, manageable increments to maintain the “sweet spot” balance between challenge and safety. With time and patience, you’ll get there.

Knowing the importance of tailoring your ruck weight to your goals, it’s time to explore how to efficiently pack your rucksack. With the proper weight distribution, you can optimize your rucking experience.

Length of Ruck

Just as pack weight plays a crucial role in shaping your rucking experience, so does ruck length. The length of your ruck needs to align with both your fitness goals and your current fitness levels. It’s essential to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about endurance and consistency, not speed.

The longer the ruck, the lighter your pack should generally be. This principle may seem straightforward, but it’s important to hammer it home. Think about it: if you’re planning on walking for long hours, you may not want to haul around a too-heavy backpack. That’s a quick coup for exhaustion, and it could even pave the way for unwanted injuries.

A good place to start is 1-3 miles for beginners who just got initiated into the world of rucking. As your conditioning improves, gradually appending the length of your ruck becomes doable – moving on to 5 miles, then 10, and so on.

However, it’s beneficial to add some important context to this guideline. Here’s a useful breakdown:

SurroundingsRecommended Rucking Distance
Urban AreasDue to convenient terrain, sidewalks, and nearby aid (if needed), urban ruckers can comfortably push for slightly longer distances.
WildernessRucking in the wilderness presents uneven grounds, unexpected elements, fewer amenities. It’s safe to stick closer to the lower end of your comfort zone.

Clearly, discretion and prudence are your best friends when deciding the length of your ruck. And always remember to employ your ultimate litmus test: listen to your body. Noticing more persistent pains and strains? It might be a telltale sign to ease back on distance, time, or weight, or perhaps a mix of all three. Remember, the aim of the game is gradual, sustainable progress. So, take it slowly, keep it steady, and let the ferocity of your willpower rather than the weight on your back push you forward.

How to Start Light and Gradually Increase Weight

In rucking, starting light holds the key to an effective journey towards your fitness objectives. It’s the method of pushing your boundaries in a moderate, consistent way, which lets your body adapt to the new routine without unnecessary strain.

For beginners, steer clear of the common mistake of overloading your ruck. Instead, concentrate on mastering your form and improving your endurance. Initiate your rucking journey with a weight that’s comfortable for you, perhaps about 10 to 20 pounds. With time, your body will adjust to this load, and you’ll be able to add more weight.

A helpful strategy is to add weight gradually. The process of increasing weight in your ruck should be slow and controlled, commonly up to a 5-pound increment per week, depending on how well your body adapts.

A word of warning, don’t push yourself too quick, too soon. Stress injuries can result from carrying too heavy of a load prematurely or advancing the weight too rapidly.

Here’s a brief guide to help understand what kind of ramp-up you can expect:

WeekWeight (lbs)
110 – 20
215 – 25
320 – 30
425 – 35
530 – 40

Take into account these factors:

  • Personal comfort: You should feel comfortable with the weight you’re carrying. If you’re finding it hard to sustain, it’s alright to scale back until you’re ready.
  • Your body’s response: Note any aches, pains or discomforts. Your body’s response will help determine whether to increase, decrease, or maintain your current weight.

Remember, the goal is not to haul the heaviest load as swiftly as possible, but to develop endurance, strength, and overall fitness over time. By paying heed to your body’s signals and increasing the weight load gradually, your rucking experience will certainly elevate.

Finding the Sweet Spot for Rucking Weight

Rucking weight varies person-to-person, depending on multiple factors. Your current fitness level, body weight, goal, and even sheer preference play roles in determining the optimal weight. Finding your sweet spot for rucking weight is undoubtedly key to reaping the best benefits.

To kickstart your rucking journey, it’s best to start light. Maybe as light as 10% of your body weight. The foundation of rucking lies in endurance and form – not just how heavy you can go. You’re in the game to develop your fitness over time. Now you might wonder, “10%, really? Isn’t that too light?” Well, remember that everyone starts somewhere. Even the most seasoned ruckers began with a lighter load.

The idea here is to get your form right. To be more effective, become accustomed to the feeling of having a ruck on your back. For rucking, posture is everything. A lighter load will help keep your back straight, core engaged, and prevent unnecessary injuries.

As you progress, increase your ruck weight gradually. Don’t jump from a 10-pound ruck to a 50-pound ruck overnight. That’s a recipe for injury and discouragement. A good game plan is to increase your ruck weight by 10% each week. This gives your body ample time to adjust to the new load.

Detailing your ruck weight progression over a period of weeks, you might find it helpful to reference this table:



 Ruck Weight (lbs)















Above all, listen to your body. Feel comfortable pacing yourself as you need to. If a weight increase feels too heavy or causes discomfort, there’s no shame in backtracking. The goal is incremental progress, so make adjustments to stay on track.

Finding your sweet spot takes time. It’s a trial and error process. So be patient, be persistent and enjoy the rewarding journey of rucking.


Rucking is a journey, not a sprint, and it’s crucial to start light and build up gradually. Remember, it’s not about how much weight you can carry, but how well you can carry it. Starting with about 10% of your body weight is a good rule of thumb, allowing you to hone your form and avoid injuries. Each week, aim to increase your ruck weight by 10%, but always listen to your body. If it’s telling you it’s too much, it’s okay to dial it back. Be patient and persistent as you find your rucking “sweet spot”. After all, the goal of rucking isn’t just to build strength and endurance, but to improve your overall fitness in a sustainable way. So, keep rucking, keep listening to your body, and keep adjusting as needed. You’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I focus on when I start rucking?

When starting out with rucking, your main focus should be on developing good form and increasing your endurance. It’s important to avoid overloading your ruck. You can gradually enhance the weight as your strength and form increase.

How should I increase the weight in my ruck?

It’s advisable to start with a light weight like 10% of your body weight. Each week, aim to increase the load by about 10%. Do listen to your body during this process and adjust the weight if necessary.

What are the benefits of gradually increasing the ruck weight?

Gradually increasing the weight helps to prevent injuries, improve form, and boost endurance. This technique allows your body to adjust accordingly which leads to increased overall fitness over time.

How do I find the optimal rucking weight?

The optimal rucking weight can be different for each person considering factors like fitness level, body weight and individual goals. This process demands patience and persistence. Regular adaptations in accordance to your body’s response is the key.

Why is it important to listen to my body while rucking?

Paying attention to your body enables you to make the necessary adjustments on your ruck weight, preventing injuries or overexertion. If something feels wrong or too heavy, it’s critical to adjust accordingly to avoid any potential harm.


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