PATHFINDER Life Program Challenges

Challenges are a core part of all PATHFINDER Ruck Training programming. PATHFINDER Challenges across our programming modules are designed to push you, but in the case of PFLife, the Challenges are designed to energize you and give you reasonable and attainable goals. 

We have specific recommendations for various lifestyle needs, but this is our generalized run-down for everyone's use. More specialized information is available for those who are recovering from injury or illness, taking an off-season, are brand new to rucking, or are in hectic-life mode. <--- link to appropriate pages

What do I select?

Select between 3 - 6 PATHFINDER LIFE Challenges Three challenges is the baseline for completion, but you might be wondering if you should do more. Here are some ways to pick what’s best for you:

Pick 3 if you:

  • are recovering from an illness or injury and were just cleared by your physician, 
  • dealing with significant life stressors
  • just had a baby or 
  • are brand new to exercise

Pick 4 - 6 if ...:

  • you’re coming down off of Endure, Advanced or Horizon-level program work and are moving into a training “off season.”
  • you want to keep up your baseline fitness between programs
  • you are beginning at a higher level of overall fitness
  • your work/life balance schedule allows it

LIFE Challenges (pick 3 - 6)

The baseline requirement for Life is 3 Challenges. You may select up to a maximum of 6. The descriptions below should help you decide which Challenges to accept as part of your training program.

1. 6 Mile Ruck x 3 (over a multi week period)

Ruck 6 miles in three (3) separate training exercises over a multi-week period. Back-to-back rucks will not count. The idea here is to create potentially challenging but manageable mid-distance miles consistently over time.

There is no weight requirement component, aside from having a backpack or rucksack with noticeable weight. If you are just starting out, books, canned goods, and lightweight masonry bricks are some old-school methods previous rosters have used for beginner weight and also to increase weight with over time. If you are new to rucking, your goal should be to feel the weight, but not be remotely overcome by it. A great starting point is around 10-15 pounds, but that's only a suggestion.

In the Miles field, log 6 Miles. In Notes: log 1 of 1, 1 of 2 or 1 of 3. Only select COMPLETE on your 3rd 6 mile ruck.
2. Run 1 Mile for time x 2 (e.g. best for: returning to run form)

If you are a runner returning from injury or looking to return to run form, this Challenge is for you. Running also counts as a workout, so as an example, this could reasonably be used in combination with a Couch-to-5K program. You would count the walk/run progressions as a workout, and then run one mile for time, twice. There is no back-to-back limit here, so if you'd like to run two consecutive miles for time, you may. You may log your runs together.

For the first 1 Mi run: In the Notes area write, 1 mile. Check nothing else.
For the second 1 Mi run: Select "Two 1 Mile Timed Runs" from the Challenged Completed drop-down menu. In the Notes, write 1 mile. You may record your time as well. Then click "Log Activity."

3. 1.5x Miles (90 Mi) (The maximum is 90 miles - overages won’t count)

This Challenge gives you the opportunity to increase your overall mileage by rucking one and a half times (1.5x) over the course of the 90-day training cycle with your weighted ruck. The maximum number of miles you can accrue is 90 miles.  (If you are familiar with other PATHFINDER programming, this Challenge is the Life equivalent of double/triple miles over time.) We strongly encourage rosters to value their training commitment to Life and not to exceed the 90 mile threshold. 


Record your miles in the Rucking Miles field.

Once you have completed your 90 miles for the class, select 1.5 x Miles (Max 90 Miles) from the drop-down menu. Then click "Log Activity."

4. Firefighter Challenge - Lite (:15 min x 3 over a multi-week period)

The Firefighter Challenge is the newest Challenge to PATHFINDER programming. In the Life course, the Challenge is to climb stairs for 15 consecutive minutes, over a multi-week period. Like other Life Challenges, this is a Challenge for overall improvement week-over-week and is not accepted as an all-in-one Challenge (ie: three :15 segments over the course of a day)

The entire Stairs Conditioning Challenge must be completed on consecutive flights of stationary stairs.

  • Exception: a stair climbing machine (StairMaster, Stair Stepper, etc.) available at most fitness facilities/gyms is an acceptable substitute for stationary stairs and is recommended in cases of arthritis or prior knee and ankle injuries.

Consecutive flights of stationary stairs include:

    • outdoor stairs typically found in urban areas/city centers, 
    • public park and playground stairs, 
    • bleacher or stadium stairs, 
    • parking garage stairs, or 
    • multi-story building stairs.

Stairs should be climbed in both up and down directions.

    • Exception: stair climbing gym equipment will only be climbed in an up direction. 
  • A weighted ruck will be worn for the entire Challenge. (There is no weight requirement in Life programming.)
For 1 & 2 Firefighter's Challenge: In Notes, write Firefighters Challenge
For the 3rd round, select Firefighter's Challenge in the Complete Challenge drop-down menu. Then click "Log Activity."

5. Four Mile Weight+ Challenge (minimum 15lbs + any ruck weight for 4 mi)*** 

During the Four Mile Weight+ Challenge, the roster must add a minimum of 15lbs to their regular rucking weight and ruck the full and consecutive four mile route of their choice. (Again, there is no stated minimum for a standard ruck weight.)(This Challenge was previously referred to as a Four Mile Coupon Challenge.)

*** A stroller with an infant/small child is an acceptable coupon in lieu of the 15lb additional ruck weight for this Challenge.


Write 4 Miles in the Rucking Miles field
Select 4 Mile Weight+ Challenge from the drop-down menu. Then click "Log Activity."

6. Double Workouts (24 total maximum)

In the Double Workout Challenge, the roster can choose to participate in up to 24 workouts of their choice of discipline (ie: martial arts, CrossFit, HDT, walking, swimming, etc.) over the 90-day Life course. Any type of workout counts. Any PATHFINDER Ruck Training workout counts. All other workouts should be :45 of activity (consecutive or distributed throughout the day).


Click the WORKOUT button and record your workout in the Notes section. Then click "Log Activity."

7. 12 Yoga/Mobility Classes

To accomplish the Yoga/Mobility Class Challenge, the roster should do 12 class of 20 minutes or longer per / video OR live class. Yoga can be classified as any standard yoga class, including Hatha, Ashtanga, Bikram, Kundalini, or Yin among others, and can also include video or in-class mobility instruction with foam rollers and generalized stretching. We highly recommend this Challenge for every roster, but especially rosters who are in their Off Season or who are new to rucking. 


In Notes, keep track of your classes for this Challenge. You can include yoga as part of a :45 workout and it can count for both a workout and towards the overall Yoga/Mobility Challenge.Once you have met the 12 class requirement, select Yoga/Mobility from the drop down menu and log the Challenge as complete.

8. 20 Pre/Post Workout Miles (can be broken up in 1 mi increments) 

This Challenge encourages a roster to complete 20 miles of rucking with a weighted pack over the 90-day course of PATHFINDER Life. The roster may decide if they ruck immediately before or after their workout. The minimum a roster may ruck during this Challenge is one (1) full and consecutive mile. There are no maximum mileage limits in this Challenge. Mileage both before and after a workout can count towards the Challenge mileage.


Keep track of your miles in the Notes section of your log, and once you've added 20 miles of either pre or post workout miles, complete it by selecting 20 Pre/Post Workout Miles in the drop down menu. These miles can be a part of your regular rucking miles.Then click "Log Activity."

9. "Move Your Brain" Challenge - Read 3 Books 

The roster will read three books of any type (motivational, self improvement, fiction or nonfiction) with no CA approval necessary. Audiobooks count (and are a great way to pass the time while rucking). For this Challenge, the roster must log the book name & author.


Write the book name and author in Notes. Keep track, logging your books in Notes. When you've completed your third book, select Move Your Brain from the drop-down menu and log the activity. Then click "Log Activity."

10. Fitness Assessment (2x: beginning / end)

For rosters who choose to complete this Challenge, we recommend that you do the initial assessment in the first 2 weeks of Class and the final assessment in the last 2 weeks of Class.

    • 1 min. Maximum Sit-Ups (Curl-Up, Crunch or Full Sit-up OK)
    • 1 min. Maximum Push-Ups (using knees is OK)
    • 1 min. Maximum Plank (Elbow or Front-leaning Rest OK)
    • 1 min. Maximum Body Weight Squats
    • 1 mile slick (no ruck) walk for time*

In this fitness assessment, we encourage the roster to do their very best with their current exercise form. An assessment allows you to see your growth and/or changes during the 3-month cycle of PATHFINDER Life. Your recorded information will be private.

The goal of maximum sit-ups is to assess your personal abdominal strength and endurance. The curl-up is preferred to the sit-up because it’s a more reliable indicator of endurance and safer for backs, but it is roster’s choice. To complete a curl-up exercise properly, the roster should be laying on their back, knees bent to a 90 degree angle and arms crossed at the chest. The roster should perform a controlled curl-up and lift their shoulder blades off the mat and then lower back down to briefly rest their shoulders on the mat before continuing the exercise.

The goal of maximum push-ups is for the roster to self-assess their own upper-body strength. To complete a push-up, the roster may use their knees or the standard push-up position. The hands should point forward and be shoulder-width apart, directly under the shoulders. The core should be tight with the hips and shoulders in alignment. The goal is to complete as many consecutive reps as possible within the one minute time frame.

The goal of 1 one-minute plank is to assess trunk (core) stability and strength. The plank can be completed on elbows or on hands in front-leaning rest. The roster should hold the plank for as long as possible during the minute test. If at any point prior to the one minute mark, if the roster must rest, the assessment for the plank position is over and the time should be recorded.

The goal of the maximum bodyweight squats is to assess lower body endurance. If the roster needs to, they may extend their arms to the front or sides for balance. The goal is to complete as many bodyweight squats as possible within the one minute time frame. To properly perform a squat, the roster should begin by standing, feet hip width apart and toes slightly turned out. The roster should squat with a controlled body position, making sure knees do not turn out or inward on either the down or up motion of the squat. Heels must stay in contact with the floor. The back should not arch or round forward, but stay in a strong neutral position.

The goal of the 1 mile slick walk for time is to walk as fast as possible for the full mile. Running is not permitted during this part of the assessment. This may be done on a treadmill or path/track.

* If you are coming down off a more intensive PATHFINDER program or are a well-conditioned overall, this walk may not elicit much cardiovascular challenge and may under-predict your capabilities. Still record the time, but know that the record is not necessarily an accurate indication of your capabilities.


In the Notes section, record your assessment information. At the end of the class cycle, when you re-assess, record the new information and then select "Fitness Assessment x 2" from the drop down menu and Log Activity.

11. Charity Challenges, Seasonal (CC’s minimum requirement - no ruck)


Log your seasonal Charitable Challenges from outside programs in Notes. Once your challenges have been completed, click the drop-down menu to log. Then click "Log Activity."

12. Hiking Challenge Read our Everything You Need to Know blog post for further information!

13. Cycling Challenge The parameters for the PATHFINDER Cycling Challenge is in the Everything You Need to Know link. 

  • The Challenge is to be completed over 6 weeks with six 30-minute+ rides. You may cycle longer than 30 minutes and more frequently than just six times.

14. PATHFINDER Triathlon Challenge 

  • Swim portion: A laned lap pool is recommended. Any other 25-yd swim distance is acceptable. The roster may use equipment (kickboad, pull buoy, fins) if needed. A lifeguard must be present. The swim leg is not permitted in the ocean.
  • Cycling portion: Road/trail/mountain and stationary bicycles are all approved. The roster must wear a helmet and obey any traffic laws.
  • Ruck portion: Life, Forward, and Endure rosters may wear their standard training ruck weight. The ruck may be completed road, sidewalk, or trail.

15. Swim Challenge 

  • The PATHFINDER Swim Challenge is designed to train your body through alternative complementary cross-training to improve your overall rucking performance.
  • The roster must complete six (6) swims @ 20 minutes in length


  • Whatever miles earned during the challenges is applied to the overall mileage requirement
  • The Life Fitness Assessment is separate and different from PATHFINDER’s “Baseline Assessment” in Forward, Endure and Advanced.
  • 45 minutes of cardio/strength can be broken up into chunks throughout the day and still count as long as the overall time requirement has been met. Ex: :10 of upper body strength in the morning, :35 walk after dinner. Keep track of your schedule if you follow this framework to log :45 cardio accurately.