Rucking 101: A Guide to Ideal Weight for Beginners to Advanced Ruckers

Factors to consider before deciding how much weight to carry

When delving into the world of rucking, figuring out how much weight to carry can seem perplexing. As we’ve stated, there’s no universal answer that fits everyone. Here are a few factors that need your consideration.

Your Fitness Level

Fitness level plays a crucial role in weight selection for rucking. If you’re a rucking novice, start light. For example, a beginner’s ruck might weigh about 10 to 20 pounds. As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the weight. It’s better to start small and work your way up, rather than start big and risk an injury.

Your Goals

What are you intending to achieve with rucking? Are you trying to build strength, improve endurance, or both? If strength is your focus, you’ll likely carry a heavier load. If you’re aiming for endurance, a lighter weight might be the ticket.

Your Body Weight

There’s a correlation between your body weight and the weight you should carry rucking. As a rule of thumb, your ruck’s weight should not exceed 10% of your body weight when you start. A ruck that’s too heavy could cause strain and potential injuries, whereas a light one might not provide the desired benefits.

Duration of Your Ruck

The duration of your ruck might also influence how much weight you should carry. For shorter, more intense workouts, a heavier ruck might be suitable. For longer, endurance-based workouts, a lighter ruck might be the best option.

Lastly, always remember to keep comfort in mind. You don’t want to ruin your rucking experience by choosing too heavy a weight too soon. Rucking is, at its core, a fun and rewarding exercise regimen.

Determining your fitness level and goals

Let’s dive deeper into understanding your fitness level. It’s a crucial first step when deciding rucking weight. If you’re new to this type of activity, the recommendation is to start from scratch. That means no weights, just walking – consider this baseline training. It helps strengthen your lower body and acclimatize to the new regime without straining your muscles.

After that, there’s a simple thumb rule – 5% of your body weight. That’s what a beginner should strap on their back while rucking. For an individual weighing 150lbs, that equals 7.5lbs.

What about your fitness goals? Well, they should directly influence your decision in selecting rucking weight. Are you aiming for general fitness, weight loss, or training for a rucking event?

If your ultimate goal is weight loss, a higher weight can result in a higher calorie burn. According to Harvard Health, a 185-pound person can burn approximately 266-532 calories in an hour of hiking.

For event training, you might need to carry weight matching the race requirement. Many rucking events specify weight categories based on the participant’s body weight, which generally falls between 20 and 50 lbs.

Consider the following stats for a clearer idea:

GoalWeight to Carry
General Fitness or Beginners5% of body weight
Weight LossHigher Weight
Event TrainingEvent-specified weight

Take into account that real progress in rucking does not come from relentlessly carrying heavier weights. It’s a blend of consistency, gradual increments in your load, and relishing the journey. An essential note to remember here is not to increase the weight too quickly. The golden rule is a modest 10% increase per week. That way, it’s a safe and effective method to build strength and endurance without hurting your body.

Remember, the right amount of weight depends on your fitness level, goals, and body weight. So, listen to your body and be patient with your progress, because the beauty of rucking lies in the journey, not just the destination.

Finding the balance between challenge and safety

When rucking, you might often find yourself asking, “How much weight should I be carrying?” Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that. Your weight-load should reflect a balance between providing a challenge and ensuring safety.

You don’t want to compromise your health while striving for intensity. Remember, workout injuries are a leading cause of discontinued exercise routines. Be mindful about straining your back or knees due to excessive weight. Your core and leg muscles need to adequately support the weight you carry. If pain accompanies your routine, it’s time to reassess your equipment.

Rucking is all about endurance and strength. It sounds appealing to push your limits by adding a couple more pounds to your rucksack. But starting too heavily can lead to injuries. Prevention is better than cure. Pace yourself.

Keep in mind, rucking is not only about the weight in your backpack. It’s also about the distance and speed you can cover. Consider experimenting with these variables. Maybe you’ll find a brisk pace over a medium distance with a lighter load does the trick for you. Or perhaps challenging yourself on an uphill route with moderate weight fits your fitness goal. You possess the freedom to mix and match parameters until you discover a challenge level that’s both efficient and safe.

To monitor your progress, maintain a rucking journal. Record the weight you’ve rucked along with the distance and time. This practice will give you valuable insights about how you’re performing and how you can safely upgrade your challenge level.

What’s important is maintaining your commitment to rucking. It’s alright to start small and gradually extend your capabilities. Don’t compare your progress to others, their journey is different from yours. In rucking, as with any other workout, your focus should be on your own individual developments and advancements. As long as you’re enjoying the process and improving consistently, you’re on the right path.

Understanding the impact of weight on rucking performance

The relationship between the weight you carry and your rucking performance is multifaceted. Determining the ideal ruck weight is more than just a quest for the biggest number. It’s the fine balance between pushing boundaries and maintaining the health and longevity of your body.

The increase in weight directly impacts your speed and endurance. Rucking with more weight forces your body to work harder, thus increasing the calories you burn. But it’s important to understand the line between beneficial resistance and hazardous overload.

Heavy rucks can become a detriment to your performance if they lead to injuries or hinder your ability to maintain good form. Excessive weight can strain your back, damage your knees, and result in chronic discomfort or long-lasting injuries. This is why starting a bit easier then slowly and steadily increasing the load is a common piece of advice in the rucking community.

To create an intense yet safe training session, you can experiment with adjusting your pack weight along with different variables, such as distance and speed. It’s also about knowing when to dial back if things get too uncomfortable. Your experiences and developments can be recorded in a rucking journal – a fantastic tool for tracking your progress, and keeping you motivated.

Additionally, the quality of the weight carried plays a crucial role in rucking performance. Random, unbalanced objects can lead to imbalances in how you carry the weight causing unnecessary strain. Rods, plates, or specifically designed ruck weights are much better alternatives because they distribute the weight evenly across your pack.

Every person’s optimal ruck weight differs, dependent on their fitness level, body weight, and overall health condition. So remember: when it comes to rucking, it’s not just about going heavy – it’s about going smart.

Recommendations for beginners, intermediate, and advanced ruckers

As you embark on your rucking journey, it’s vital to choose the right weight to maximize benefits and minimize risks. This decision varies based on your fitness level and experience with rucking.


Don’t rush to load up your rucksack! Start with a weight comprising 10% of your body weight and gradually escalate it. It’ll help condition your body to the new form of exercise and reduce the risk of injuries. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, your starting weight should be around 18 pounds.


Once you’re comfortable with the beginners’ range and have seen progress, you can consider adding more weight. A rough guideline is to increase your ruck weight towards 20% of your body weight. Tracking your rucking times, the fatigue experienced, and degree of muscle soreness can help you determine when it’s appropriate to add weight.


For experienced ruckers, who are well conditioned and injury-free, you can ruck with weight up to 30% of your body weight. Remember, adding distance and speed are other variables to experiment with, so there’s no need to simply keep adding weight. Safety always comes first, so listen to your body and avoid pushing it beyond its limits.

Here’s a summary table to help guide you:

User Level% of Body weight

This approach allows you to balance the challenge with safety, maintaining an intensity level that suits your capacity. Monitoring the impact and changes on your performance can help you manage and adjust the weight according to your personal abilities and goals.

Respect your body – it’s easy to want to push yourself, but harder to recover from an injury. Allow your body time to adapt, don’t rush it. It’s more than okay to stay in your comfort zone for a while, before progressively moving forward. The aim is improvement, not proving how heavy you can go. Remember to make use of a well-balanced, quality weight for your rucksack.

Equip yourself with appropriate gear and make sure to follow a well-designed plan. No matter where you’re starting from, you’re taking a step to improve yourself; these recommendations will help you ruck responsibly.


So, you’ve got the lowdown on how much weight to carry while rucking. Remember, it’s not about pushing to your limits but about gradual improvement. Starting with 10% of your body weight is a good benchmark for beginners. As you get more comfortable, aim for 20% to 30% of your body weight. But always listen to your body and prioritize safety over challenge. Quality weight and a well-balanced rucksack are key to a successful rucking experience. With a well-designed plan, you’ll find that rucking can be an enjoyable and rewarding activity. Here’s to your rucking success!

Frequently Asked Questions

What weight should beginners start with in rucking?

Beginners are advised to start with a weight approximating to 10% of their body weight. Scaling up returns better results and is more manageable than starting heavy.

How do I progress my weight in rucking as an intermediate and advanced individual?

As an intermediate, aim towards carrying 20% of your body weight. As you become an advanced ruckers, you can increase to carry 30% of your body weight.

What factors should be observed in rucking for a healthier practice?

It’s crucial to avoid injury by listening to your body and maintaining a balance between a challenge and safety. A well-designed training plan and quality weights ensure balance in your rucksack.

Why is the selection of weight crucial in rucking?

Selecting the right weight ensures you don’t push yourself to the limits. Over time, you can gradually increase the weight according to your body’s capability.

Does a quality rucksack matter in rucking?

A well-balanced, quality rucksack ensures you are not strained on one side more than the other. This helps in preventing injuries, promoting stability and improving your performance in rucking.


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