Propel Challenge - Everything You Need to Know

The PATHFINDER Propel Challenge is designed as an 2-day extended sandbag training experience to prepare a Roster for Events.

Challenge Purpose

  • Throwing heavy objects, like in the case of sandbags in a portion of this Challenge, requires an emphasis on proper form and technique. Heavy sandbag work engages more than just your muscles. Your central nervous system creates brain-gains from each throw, helping your body and mind to fine-tune to unique needs of these movements. Knowing how to engage your upper body and core power will help you during heavy evolutions in GORUCK Team Assessment.
  • Moving in animal positions. This is not only common in Events, it highlights areas of weakness you will need to note and continue to work on. Tightness in shoulders during any animal crawls is common, and should be a priority to work on through rolling, yoga/stretching and other mobility work. Tightness in hips and IT bands can also be positively affected through mobility work. For specific mobility work, we recommend spending time with an app like ROMWOD, or purchasing Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett to address your needs.


Pick a field. This Challenge is best done on a marked school field, if you have one nearby you are legally allowed to use after school hours. Otherwise, choose a field that's mostly level and mark out 100 meters. (Or 328 feet for the metrically challenged.) That's a pretty large area, but the size is important because it's how you'll determine that you made it a mile. (1600 meters = 1 mile)

Challenge Distance Requirements

  • CompeteMove 30# - 60# of sandbag over 1 mile. You must wear your ruck throughout this Challenge. (Rucks must be at the Compete prescribed weight of 45lbs for Open division, 30lbs Female division.) Each evolution of this Challenge must be a mile.
  • This is not a PATHFINDER Challenge for any other programming at this time.

Challenge Time Requirements

  • There is a 90-minute time cap for each evolution of the Propel Challenge. End the Challenge segment at either the time cap or when the segment has been completed, whichever comes first.

    PART 1: Sandbag Evolution Parameters

    • Follow the Challenge instructions as written. The Challenge rotates among all five exercises. Use a whiteboard to write down the five movements to make it easier.
      • Example: Go down the field doing the Chest Sandbag Pass for the 100 meter distance. Turn around and go back up the field doing your Side Scoop Sandbag Throw. Go down the field doing the Over Shoulder Sandbag Toss, and then turn around and carry your sandbag in the Zercher Carry. Walk your sandbag back in the Overhead Press Carry, and return with the Chest Sandbag Pass round.
    • Sandbags are a must. This Challenge is meant to be done with a heavy, awkward sandbag. Rosters may choose sandbags in weight between 30-60#. Open Rosters should keep their choices 40# and above. If you have a few to pick from, bring them all.
    • *Medicine Balls of the same weight are acceptable, but they are not our suggested option. Medicine balls do not require the same physical adjustments as throwing a sandbag.

    PART 2: Animal Movement Evolution Parameters

    Part 2 must be completed on a different day than Part 1. It can be the following day, or at another point in your training between Weeks 3-7.

    • Follow the Challenge instructions as written. The Challenge rotates among all five exercises. Use a whiteboard to write down the SIX movements to make it easier.
    • You must have 50 feet of rope with a diameter of 0.375" to no more than .75" diameter. You will use this rope to tie to your sandbag for two movements during this Challenge progression. Nylon or polypropylene rope is recommended, but natural rope is also approved for this Challenge.
    • Wear gloves for hand protection.

    Challenge Guide:


    You will need your:

    • Ruck at your prescribed weight
    • Sandbag at the prescribed weight


    Before you begin, make sure your upper body is warmed up. You can complete these exercises prior to beginning the throws. Don't overthink it, just get your blood flowing and your arms and shoulder area feeling loose. Your warm-up is not included in your 90-minute time cap.

    2 x Rounds
    • 15 x Large Arm Circles - Forward
    • 15 x Large Arm Circles - Backwards
    • 15 x Shoulder Shrugs
    • 15 x Pushups


    The following movements are to be done in the order as listed in rotation. March down the field with one movement, come back with the next:

    1. Sandbag Clean/Squat/Toss Clean the sandbag up to your chest with your elbows tucked in to your sides. Squat, and as you burst up, throw the sandbag.
    2. Side Scoop Sandbag Throw Begin by standing with your right side to the end of the field. Stand with staggered legs, left foot forward. Holding the sandbag with both hands, crouch into a high squat, corkscrewing your legs into the ground. Twist your torso to the left, and throw the sandbag across your body to the right, like you are throwing something heavy into the back of a truck. Alternate sides.
    3. Over-Shoulder Sandbag Toss Begin with your sandbag on the ground. Squat down to the bag (you may bring the bag to your lap first if you get tired, but attempt to avoid this), bring the sandbag to your waist as you stand and use your core to bring your sandbag up over your shoulder and let it fall behind you. Continue to toss the sandbag behind you down the field.
    4. Front Loaded Sandbag Walk (or Sandbag Zercher Carry) Begin with your sandbag on the ground. Squat to lift it, resting the sandbag in the space between your thighs and chest. Get your arms underneath the bottom of the sandbag. Stand, and walk the sandbag down the field with your arms curled around it like a baby.
    5. Overhead Sandbag Carry Begin with your sandbag on the ground. Squat and clean your bag, and lift it overhead. Your biceps should be to your ears, shoulder's lifted up and away from their pockets. Use the full strength of your shoulder complex and core to stabilize the bag on the OH walk.

    Complete as many rounds as necessary of this group of five movements until you have reached a mile.



    You will need your:

    • Ruck at your prescribed weight
    • Sandbag at the prescribed weight
    • 50ft of Rope @ 1.5" diameter


    Before you begin, make sure you are warmed up. Don't overthink it, just get your blood flowing and feeling loose. Your warm-up is not included in your 90-minute time cap.

    2 x Rounds

    • 15 x Air Squats
    • 15 x Walking Lunges - Hard Count
    • 15 x Hip Bridges with Ruck Overhead Press*
    • 15 x Pushups
    • * Hip Bridges with Ruck Overhead Press Begin on your back, knees bent, feet flat. Lift your hips from the ground as your press your ruck up overhead.


    The following movements are to be done in the order as listed in rotation. Go down the field with one movement, come back with the next. Do not do more than 100 meters of each movement at a time in order to perform each exercise over the 90 minute time cap.

    1. Alternating High / Low Crawl //  HIGH CRAWL Wearing your ruck on your back, begin on your belly. Your left elbow and right knee should be bent, hands flat on the ground. Your right elbow should be bent, your hand on the ground near your chest, and your left leg can be straight or slightly bent. The movement originates in your core and your core must be actively engaged throughout the full exercise. Move slowly through this movement, focusing on total body control. Keep your hips low. The push forward comes from inside your knee and the your upper forearm. You want to make sure you're covering as much ground as you can while keeping a solid, fully engaged form. LOW CRAWL // with simultaneous arm pull To perform a low crawl with proper form, your entire body, from side of the face to toes, should be scraping the ground the entire time. Begin by having both arms extended straight out in front of you past your head, with one knee bent to the side of your body, as close to your chest as possible. The other leg can remain straight. To move forward, straighten the bent knee like you would in a squat, digging the inside edge of your foot into the ground to give you some traction to push off.  Simultaneously, use your hands to grab the ground in front of you and pull yourself forward. Then, repeat, either by resetting the same leg, or the other leg, in the cocked position with both arms out and ready to pull the earth again.*(There is a difference between baby crawl, high crawl, and low crawl. Practice both high and low crawl. Baby crawl is on hands and knees like a baby, and is not part of this challenge.) Watch this video for form.*
    2. Crab Walk with Ruck The crab walk is an essential movement that strengthens while also focusing on mobility and coordination. If your shoulders are tight, spend an extra few minutes warming them up (arm circles are a great fast choice) prior to beginning. Ruck on your front, begin seated on the ground, knees bent, feet flat. Bring your hands behind you as you engage your core and lift your hips. Walk backwards, forwards or laterally down the course you've set. Each variation of the movement is useful for your body as well as your brain, especially if you tend to prefer only one variation of the movement. Use a different variation for each attempt during the Challenge.
    3. Kangaroo Bounding with Ruck Begin on your belly facing the field, quickly get to your feet and run forward for 3 seconds (say “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” to track 3 seconds) then go back to the ground on your belly. Repeat, moving quickly.
    4. Duck Walk with Ruck Duck walks begin in a very low squat position with tailbone pointed towards the ground. Your ruck should be on your back, your core should be engaged and spine long. Point your toes out slightly, with your elbows bent (or arms out straight, whichever works best for your stability).
    5. Sandbag Squat Pull Begin with your ruck on your front. Stand with your sandbag at your feet, rope coiled on top. Walk the length of your rope, turn to face your sandbag on the ground 50ft away, and squat down low, legs parallel to the ground. Using your core and lats to drive the movement, pull your sandbag towards you. Once you've pulled your sandbag back to your feet, continue forward with your rope and drag your sandbag to your next point.
    6. Sandbag Rope Drag
      The image posted is a great example of excellent form for this movement. Begin seated, ruck on your front. Your sandbag should be on the ground a good distance from you, tied with a rope to a  sandbag handle.
      With your heels digging in, core fully engaged, use your obliques, abs and lats to pull your sandbag towards you. When your sandbag has reached your feet, stand up, walk the length of your rope, sit down and begin the next pull cycle. You should have six and a half "stand ups."
    7. Bear Crawl Sandbag Drag Begin in bear crawl position (hands and knees), ruck on your back, sandbag between your knees. Reach down and pull your sandbag forward, complete the bear crawl movement, and then reach down and pull your sandbag forward again, alternating arms between crawls.

      Complete as many rounds as necessary of this group of seven movements until you have reached a mile.

          Challenge Notes

          Throwing heavy objects, like sandbags, can put you at risk for injuries. Here are some tips to help minimize that risk:

          • ALWAYS ENGAGE YOUR CORE AND GLUTES. It's in caps for a reason. Remember it. It can and will save your back.
          • Wrap Your Wrists. If you're using a heavier sandbag or have wrist issues already (especially if you're at a desk and using a keyboard all day), wrap your wrists. You can go fancy with boxer wrap, lifting wraps or just some ACE bandages. Make sure your wrists are wrapped securely and you still have blood flow, but they feel more stable. While you won't necessarily have wrist wraps at an Event, the use of them now better protects you from potential training injuries.
          • Stop if there's pain. If you feel a twinge of pain, STOP. If it's mild, stretch a little and perform a few more warm-up exercises in the twingey-area. If it's major - just stop. Pack it up and try again another day. No workout is worth injury.

          Challenge Restrictions

          • Ruck safely. Communicate your route and estimated times to another individual/party who can alert
          • YOU MUST COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS. DO NOT TRESPASS. If you are in doubt contact facility management for a clear understanding of access to and usage of any facility’s property. PATHFINDER assumes no liability whatsoever for any actions taken by a PATHFINDER roster.

          PATHFINDER assumes no responsibility or liability for any injuries, damages or death. A roster assumes all risk associated with their participation in any and all PATHFINDER programming.


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