How to Pick the Right
PATHFINDER Program for Your Goals

PATHFINDER Class 036 begins Monday, May 1! Sign up today!

Welcome to our guide on PATHFINDER Ruck Training programs! We offer a range of programs designed to help you build endurance, strength, and mental toughness, whatever your fitness level.

As you search for the right program, it's important to understand what sets PATHFINDER Ruck Training apart from other training programs and how our unique approach can help you reach your fitness goals. In this guide, we'll explore the critical features of PATHFINDER Ruck Training programs, how they can benefit you, how to pick the right program, and what to expect when you sign up. So, let's dive in!

How to Pick the Right PATHFINDER Ruck Training Program for Your Goals


The words training and working out can sometimes be used interchangeably, so it helps to know there's a difference. Training is "a method of exercising with a specific intention of the end goal." Working out is 'just' a physical effort to improve overall fitness and can be done more casually but still intensely.

You can choose to do either with PATHFINDER.

If you're interested in training for a specific endurance event, you'll want to compare our programs differently than using our programming for working out. In either case, all the program parameters are the same, but the intent is different.


Improve Your Endurance

PATHFINDER Ruck Training programs are designed to help you build endurance through rucking - carrying a weighted backpack for an extended period. Rucking is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular endurance, as it forces your heart and lungs to work harder.

Rucking is ideal for athletes who need to improve their endurance for ruck marches or obstacle course races. Rucking also benefits runners and other athletes who want to cross-train to improve their cardiovascular capacity. Additionally, it's an excellent option for people recovering from an injury or looking for a low-impact workout that still provides a challenge.

PATHFINDER Ruck Training | How to Pick the Right Program

Get Stronger

In addition to endurance ruck training, PATHFINDER Ruck Training programs also focus on strength training. We incorporate bodyweight exercises, sandbags, and kettlebell workouts to help you build strength and muscle mass.

Our workouts keep your body guessing through varied functional fitness exercises. This type of training has been shown to provide various benefits, including increased muscle strength, improved muscular endurance, enhanced muscle hypertrophy, and reduced risk of injury.

Grow Your Mental Toughness

PATHFINDER Ruck Training programs are designed to challenge you both physically and mentally. Our rigorous training can help develop your mental toughness in three ways:

  1. Overcoming obstacles and challenges in life, both in personal and professional spheres. When we face difficult situations, mental toughness enables us to stay calm, focused, and persistent in pursuing our goals, even in the face of setbacks or failures. We encourage all our PATHFINDER athletes to #CTHT or Choose the Harder Thing. PATHFINDER Challenges allow you to grow your resilience and confidence in doing hard sh*t.
  2. Mental toughness is key to achieving your long-term goals. Whether we're striving to build a successful career or just complete a GORUCK Event, developing a resilience is critical to staying motivated and persevering through the inevitable ups and downs in training.
  3. Mental toughness can also positively impact our physical health. Studies have shown that individuals with solid mental toughness are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and experience less stress, which can lead to a healthier, more balanced life overall.

PATHFINDER Ruck Training | Mental Toughness

Get Community Support

When you join PATHFINDER Ruck Training, you'll become part of a supportive community of athletes working towards similar goals. This community provides encouragement and motivation to help you stay committed to your training.

PATHFINDER Course Advisors help small groups through the programming and answer questions. We have PATHFINDER rosters (participants) who use our programming year-round because of our incredible groups of ruckers.

PATHFINDER Ruck Training | Community Support

Learn About Personalized Training Options

PATHFINDER Ruck Training programs can be personalized to meet your fitness goals through our virtual XP Personal Training program. Whether you're training for a specific event or just looking to improve your overall fitness, we can tailor workouts, miles, and PATHFINDER Challenges for your equipment, schedule, space, and fitness level.

PATHFINDER Class 036 begins Monday, May 1! Sign up today!


Identifying Your Goals

Take a minute to identify your goals. Are you training for a specific event, like a GORUCK, a distance ruck march, or an obstacle course race? Or are you looking just to improve your overall fitness and endurance? Knowing your goal will help you get the most out of your training.

It's also helpful to consider what you want to gain long-term. Do you want to increase your strength and endurance, lose weight, or improve your overall health and wellness?

Knowing the scope of the PATHFINDER programming can also help you decide. Take a hard look at the work that must be done to hit each program's objectives (these can be found on each program product page). Can you commit to rucking 200 miles over 12 weeks, which would mean rucking between 14-18 miles each week? Or should you set your sights a little lower, knowing you've got vacations, holidays, or stressful things on the horizon? 

What’s Your Fitness Level?

PATHFINDER offers programs for athletes of all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced. Choosing a program that aligns with your current fitness level is crucial. If you're new to ruck training, start with Life or Forward to build a solid foundation. On the other hand, if you're an experienced athlete, Endure, or Advanced can help you push your limits and reach new performance levels.

You can assess your fitness level quickly by going out on a 2-mile ruck. If you're new, use a weighted backpack between 9-12 lbs. If you're more experienced or have been in the military, use a higher weight that feels right. While you're rucking, notice whether it's easy or if you're struggling a little. Are you moving fast*? Or is this harder than your average walk? This may help you make a decision, too, about which program is right for you.

*As defined by our PATHFINDER standards, a fast rucking pace is anything under a 15-minute mile with 35 lbs. 

PATHFINDER Ruck Training | Training Programs for Every Fitness Level

Assess Your Schedule

Another factor to consider when choosing a program is your schedule. Ensure the program you choose fits into your daily routine and doesn't require more time than you can realistically commit to. It's better to choose a shorter program you can complete consistently than a longer one you struggle to achieve.

Taking a big bite out of the training apple can do different things to different people. Are you the person who gets increasingly more motivated as you chip away at a big goal? Or are you the kind of person who starts strong, gets distracted, and races across the finish line with seconds to space?

PATHFINDER is not a day-by-day program where we tell you what to do daily- mainly because those just don't work for most people. We provide a printable calendar at the start of each 12-week cycle. Writing things down and scheduling them into your phone gives you agency over your training. This makes you more likely to prioritize yourself, your needs, and your goals more effectively.

Read Program Descriptions

Each Pathfinder Ruck Training program includes a detailed description of the training objectives, duration, and intensity level. Reading these descriptions carefully ensures the program aligns with your goals and fitness level.

Send us a note!

If you get stuck or just want an expert opinion on how to match our programs with your training, send us a note! You can reach us at, or use the orange chat box at the bottom right of this page, marked "Chat with Us." We are happy to answer any questions you might have.

PATHFINDER Ruck Training | Finisher's Patches @ Program Completion



Some important things to know about each PATHFINDER Class:

Each PATHFINDER Class starts on February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1. We start all rosters together simultaneously (unless otherwise indicated) to keep your training experience consistent and, most importantly, to keep each PATHFINDER Class cheering each other on! Sign up for the next class now!

Each PATHFINDER Class runs for a full three months.

Each PATHFINDER Class ends at midnight on the last day of programming (January 31, April 30, July 31, and October 30). 'Midnight' is classified as midnight for your United States time zone.

All Finisher's Patches are sent after our records have been vetted, and we're not Amazon! It can take 6-8 weeks to receive your patch after the end of your program. But you're not doing this for the patch, are you? (And if you don't finish, you don't patch.)


PATHFINDER Programs come with the following:

1) PATHFINDER Success Guide PDF

This PDF is available immediately upon your purchase, so download it! It details what you'll need to plan and prepare for your PATHFINDER Class. 

2) PATHFINDER Training Guide PDF

If you are in PATHFINDER Forward, Stirling, Advanced: Ocala, Horizon, or Compete, or have purchased our dog companion program, TailBlazer, you will receive a Training Guide PDF download link on the day of our Class state. All other programs we're working on it! I hope to edit this shortly to reflect the new Training Guide documentation. This guide details week-by-week planning to get the best results during training. If your program does not yet have this, though, not worry! We have a complete description of each program's requirements and a full Everything You Need to Know Guide on everything PATHFINDER!


Logging your work is an essential part of PATHFINDER! Our proprietary logging system is exclusive to PATHFINDER. Each time you get miles down, rack up a workout, or complete a Challenge, you can log that work into your personalized logging file that keeps track of everything you've done. You'll also find links to our Everything You Need to Know Guides, workout library, Program requirements, and more in the logs.

4) PATHFINDER Roster Patch

Slap our tan roster patch on your ruck and let everyone know you're Choosing the Harder Thing. One tan roster patch is free with each program order, just the shipping cost. If you need an extra one, you can buy one as well.

5) Facebook Small Groups

Join the Class Facebook main group and your small Course Advisor group and get to know your fellow PATHFINDER's. Our community is one of the best out there. Regardless of your level of athleticism, there’s always something to learn, someone to be inspired by, or someone to answer your question. Don’t hesitate to make the first move, though! Rosters get the most out of our programs when they jump in!

So, are you ready to take your training to the next level? Start exploring our PATHFINDER programs. With some dedication, hard work, and mental toughness, you can achieve your goals and reach new performance levels. Let's get started!


Amy Petersen is PATHFINDER Ruck Training's Director of Programming, an ACE-CPT, PN-1 and PN-SSR. Email her at