5 Easy Ways to Get Started Rucking

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5 Easy Tips to Get Started Rucking Today

Rucking has gotten really popular lately with a big influx of civilian athletes discovering the cardio, strength, social and weight-loss benefits of walking with a weighted backpack, or rucksack.

As the experts in ruck endurance training for athletes (for the last 10 years!), we thought we'd get a good beginner guide together. While you're here, check out any of our over seven different 12-week ruck training programs, for Beginners to Advanced level ruckers, to grow consistency, strength, and endurance.

What is rucking?

It’s a fitness trend that’s been hiding in plain sight this whole time.

Rucking has been done for millennia. Ancient people & militaries rucked goods and equipment, and rucking is still done in the military today, but often with much heavier weights than are recommended for civilian workouts. 

Rucking is great for people bored of fitness walking and who don’t (or can’t) run due to previous injury or preference. Adding weight to an ordinary backpack (although we highly recommend GORUCK rucksacks) will bring your heart rate up like running, but without the pounding impact on your joints. Rucking also improves your core and back strength, which will improve any generalized low back pain. If you sit at a desk all day, rucking is definitely for you..

Another big benefit is you can ruck almost anywhere. While it's gotten popular in an urban setting, rucking is great for hikers who’re building up their long-distance endurance. Virtually every American kid rucked for at least 12 years with their bookbag, day in and day out. You’re a rucker and you didn’t even know it!

How do I get started?

1. How fit are you? 

If you’ve been fitness walking, hiking, or running for a while, you know how far and fast you generally go. If you’re brand new to any exercise, or you’re just coming back from an illness or injury, you’ll want to start slower, with a shorter distance and pace. Rucking is the perfect long, slow endurance training most people need for a healthier heart and a bigger endurance engine.

2. Get a backpack, and decide how much weight you want to add

Start with what you’ve got! While we love GORUCK rucks, if you’re not ready to invest, any backpack will do. You’ll want to make sure of a comfortable and snug fit, without any pinching around your arms or shoulders. You'll want your ruck to ride a little high for the best weight distribution. Weight your ruck with whatever you want to at first – water bottles, books, bricks, you name it. Use what feels right, and what you have on hand first. There's no need to wait for fancy equipment to get started.

Read our post on good rucking posture for some tips on making the most of your ruck.

PATHFINDER has trained over 10,000 athletes over the last ten years and the athletes who have the best success start slowly, both in weight and distance. We recommend brand-new ruckers start with between 10-15lbs. If you do Cross Fit, or weight lift regularly, you can start at 20-35lbs.

3. Find a route you want to travel

If you’re a seasoned walker, hiker, or runner, you may know exactly which trail or route you want to take. If you're new to rucking, around the block is a pretty popular option!

Always pick a route that’s safe and well-lit if you're rucking in the evening or early morning, tell someone where you're headed, and ruck a safe distance from a highway.

4. Get started & stay away from cotton!

Keep the following things in your ruck:

Make sure your shoes and socks are comfortable and fit well. Running shoes are fine when you’re getting started.

Stick with wearing athletic fabrics and stay away from cotton shirts when you’re rucking. They can get uncomfortable quickly and chafe across your lower back if you wind up sweating a lot.

5. Stay consistent

Rucking is best when it’s done consistently. Go out two or three times a week and get some miles in, some fresh air, and enjoy it! Our PATHFINDER Training Plans are great to encourage consistency, with supportive mentors and other ruckers training right alongside you!

Our 12-week training programs begin each February 01, May 01, August 01 and October 01. 

Check out PATHFINDER's program options:

This post was written by Amy Petersen, PATHFINDER Ruck Training's Director of Programming, an ACE-CPT, PN-1 and PN-SSR.