How Much Weight Should You Carry for Rucking? 

 June 17, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

Whenever I hear people talking about rucking, there's always a debate about how much weight someone should be able to carry. From mini rucks to the infamous 'GORUCK Challenge,' finding a good weight limit for rucking can be a confusing and tedious journey. Questions like "How much weight should I start with?" and "What's a good weight limit for my fitness level?" come up again and again.

Begin with a lighter weight, not exceeding 10-20% of your body weight, to acclimate yourself to the motion of rucking. As your body adapts, gradually increase the weight over time. However, the appropriate amount of weight for rucking will vary depending on your fitness level and the degree of challenge you seek from the ruck.

In this blog post, we'll discuss just that — how much weight should you carry for rucking? By the end, you'll have a better idea of how to set a reasonable weight limit for yourself and achieve your desired fitness goals. So pack your backpack and let's get to it!

What is Rucking?

Rucking is a form of exercise in which a person carries a weighted backpack or vest while walking at a steady pace over long distances. This activity has gained popularity recently, both as a fitness regimen and as a way to challenge yourself. It combines the cardiovascular benefits of regular walking with the muscle-building and strengthening benefits of carrying weights. Proponents argue that rucking is an effective and enjoyable way to achieve all these goals.

On the other hand, critics claim that rucking could be too extreme, especially for beginners or people with physical limitations. They point out that it puts extra strain on certain joints and can easily lead to injury if done incorrectly. In addition, they point out that it may not provide the same aerobic benefits as more traditional forms of exercise.

Still, even the critics concede that rucking has potential benefits, such as building muscle strength and stamina. When done at the right pace, with adequate hydration and stretching, rucking can also provide significant cardiovascular benefits while reducing the risk of injury, making it an enjoyable activity with positive results.

For those looking for a more challenging workout than traditional walking, or looking to mix up their exercise routine, rucking could be an option worth considering. From evaluating the equipment needed to choosing safe routes and maintaining good form during the workout, there are a few steps to consider before embarking on a rucking adventure. As with all activities that involve physical exertion, it is important that you are aware of the risks associated with extreme physical exertion before you participate. With this information in mind, you can now explore in detail the unique benefits of backpacking — from improving physical health to enhancing mental well-being.

The Benefits of Rucking

The benefits of rucking cannot be overlooked. The most obvious is the physical exercise they get from hiking with a weighted bag. Aerobic exercise improves endurance and cardiovascular health. Rucking also improves muscle strength, balance, coordination and stability through resistance training. By walking with the added weight, you are essentially doing endurance and strength training at the same time, which can greatly improve overall physical fitness. Moreover, rucking is an intense mental challenge as backpackers have to maintain their concentration over long distances and times. With carefully planned routes and goals, rucking can work toward success like any other sport or activity.

Apart from the physical and mental benefits, rucking also has some practical advantages. Not only does it get you out in the fresh air and away from your screens, but it is also relatively inexpensive compared to other outdoor activities like running or cycling as you don’t need expensive shoes or gear. Packing light for a day hike trains your mental strength as it asks you to be more mindful of what you take with you. This makes it perfect for those who like to travel with minimal items or generally lead a minimalist lifestyle.

Finally, although this is not always explicitly stated, there is a great sense of community among hikers who share common interests such as enjoying nature and appreciating physical achievements in an organized way, both characteristics that attract those who wish to participate in this activity.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that rucking isn't worth the effort or can be dangerous due to the potential impact on joints and muscles — especially those who are new to the activity or lack the proper fitness and safety protocols. However, with the right technique and form, even novices can reap all the benefits without risking serious injury, as long as they listen to their body's response and know how much weight is comfortable for them.

Considering all these beneficial features of rucking considered, it is easy to see why people would want to embrace this activity as part of their regular workout regimen. Planning ahead allows both beginners and experienced hikers to progress safely, yet intensely, and feel a sense of achievement. Putting together your own load before your next trail run may be just what you need for a change in your usual routine!

Tips for Setting Up Your Rucking Load

To maximize the benefits of rucking, it is important that you set up your gear correctly. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  1. Adjust the straps of your rucksack so that it fits snugly against your body. It should not be too tight or you’ll risk interrupting blood circulation, but secure enough to restrict movement. This distributes the weight evenly and increases your wearing comfort.
  2. Consider purchasing a weight vest instead of just using a regular backpack. Weight vests are specifically designed to carry varying amounts of weight evenly and are available in various sizes and weights. While more expensive than a regular backpack, they provide more opportunities for strength training, even beyond rucking.
  3. Choose bags with pockets that allow easy access to items without having to shift your weight or take things out of the backpack completely. You don’t want to make unnecessary movements that could potentially throw you off balance in the middle of rucking or leave you vulnerable on the trails.
  4. Distribute heavy items as much as possible in the backpack instead of packing everything into one pocket or area. This can help balance the load across the bag and reduce the strain on your upper body muscles when carrying the load.

Setting up your rucking load untidily not only detracts from the experience but can also increase your risk of injury from poor posture or excessive strain from improper weight distribution. With these tips on how to properly set up your ruck, you can get back on the trail with minimal effort and reap all the amazing benefits that come with rucking, such as improved cardiovascular health, stronger leg muscles, increased endurance and speed, and greater mental clarity. Now the question is, how much weight should you carry?

How Much Weight Should You Carry?

Having a comfortable rucking load is crucial if you want to do your best with a side-strapped backpack. But how much should you pack? That depends on individual preferences and fitness level, but there are some standards that can help you decide.

In general, beginners should start small with backpacking — 20 lbs in a backpack is a good start, or 10-20% of your body weight. Of course, you can try heavier loads if you are confident of your strength and fitness, but don't make the mistake of overloading yourself right away. Remember that the point is to enjoy the experience of walking long distances with a load, not to punish your body too quickly..

On the other hand, fitness junkies looking for an even greater challenge or people experienced with rucking can choose a heavier weight. Anything from 50 to 80 pounds should do the trick — just remember that common sense prevails here; it’s not always about seeing how much weight you can lift. Be aware of health concerns that can be caused by carrying too much and look out for any warning signs such as lack of coordination or shortness of breath.

Regardless of the weight you choose, you should consider the duration you plan to walk and the terrain when choosing your backpack. Listen to your body and watch for possible signs of stress so you know when it's time to adjust the weight. Keep all this in mind and you'll be able to find the perfect balance between challenge and safety!

Now that you have determined the ideal weight for your upcoming hike, it's time to develop our idea of a 'standard' rucking load suitable for an average fitness level.

The Average Load for Rucking

The average load during rucking varies greatly and depends on the person, their body type, and fitness level, as well as the purpose and duration of the exercise. In general, a comfortable weight load is between 10-20% of an individual’s body weight for short distances, such as walking 1-5 miles. Beginners, however, should start with a much lower percentage and gradually increase it over time as their strength and endurance improve. However, some experienced exercisers can choose to challenge themselves with heavier weights of up to 30-50% of their body weight.

At the same time, even when taking into account personal factors like gender, fitness level, medical history, etc., no two people are exactly alike, so what is considered an appropriate weight for one person may not be suitable for another. Average weight configurations can provide helpful guidelines, but they should only be used as a starting point to find the ideal weight for oneself. Ultimately, self-awareness must come into play as it is impossible to know the limits of a person’s abilities in advance. Therefore, careful trial and error is required to find the optimal weight for each individual’s specific circumstances.

Although there are many benefits to carrying heavy loads on a ruck, you should not overdo it as this can lead to injury or fatigue. So before you load up for a long hike or walk, proceed with caution and common sense, and plan accordingly to ensure that your next outing is both an enjoyable and safe experience. With this in mind, you need to seriously consider many different factors before deciding what amount of weight is best for you, which will be discussed in more detail in the next section.

Considerations Before Carrying Weight

Before carrying any weight during a rucking session, there are a few things you should consider. First, it is important to realize that there is no one size fits all when it comes to rucking — the right amount of weight depends on the individual's goals and objectives. For those simply looking for a basic challenge or workout, the average load (as discussed in the previous section) might be sufficient. However, if someone is trying to build strength or endurance, then they may need to consciously seek a heavier ruck or use additional weight to achieve the desired results.

It is also important to consider personal limitations. Those who already have back pain or problems should start with lighter weights and slowly increase over time. Ignoring pre-existing limitations when starting a new activity can lead to injury or setbacks, which all exercisers should avoid.

Finally, choosing the right backpack for each individual goes hand in hand with determining the ideal load. In some cases, it can be advantageous to have different types of backpacks depending on the purpose. For example, those who travel long distances may benefit from an assault backpack as opposed to a 40L military backpack, as weight management and size can play a role in rushed maneuvers. Choosing a suitable backpack and the right weight are therefore crucial for most undertakings.

By finding out what you need and adapting accordingly, you can make your rucking experience better. With all this in mind, let’s now take a look at the various types of rucks available and how they can help you reach certain goals during a rucking session.

Types of Rucks and Their Objectives

It is important to know your gear when it comes to rucking. Rucksacks (commonly known as "ruck") come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles to provide individuals with the most effective tool for their particular mission or goal. Rucks can be used for transport, storage, exercising, and more. Its main differences with backpacks are capacity and purpose.

Typical everyday rucks with lightweight frames are usually designed to carry up to 25 lbs over short distances for quick errands. Larger backpacks with heavier frames, on the other hand, are designed to carry loads of up to 80 lbs over longer distances for more intense activities such as hiking or camping. Although these larger packs offer better carrying capacity and support structure, they can also be bulkier and much heavier even without adding weight.

The intention of the different types of backpacks should also be considered before carrying weight. Recreational backpacks or backpacks for fitness are equipped with padded straps and sometimes even chest clips to improve breathability during high physical activity such as running or power walking. Tactical rucks, on the other hand, are often equipped with laser-cut Molle webbing for additional modular attachments that change depending on the needs of the mission, such as military operations or rescue missions. Both backpacks need to be packed carefully as carrying too much weight can easily lead to fatigue and injury if not done properly.

There is no universal solution for rucking, but choosing an appropriate backpack for your activities is critical to enjoying yourself and achieving your goals. Understanding this will help you create a safe platform and develop a training plan to prepare your body for the weight you will be carrying while addressing potential risks and safety concerns..

Training Plan in Preparation for Rucking

Training to prepare for rucking is an essential part of any successful experience. The right plan should be tailored to individual needs, experience level, and physical fitness. Those just starting out should begin with shorter, slower distances and lower weights, while more experienced individuals should focus on building strength by increasing weights and mileage. It's important to know that this type of training requires gradual progression. Overworking your body too soon can lead to injury and discomfort, so it’s important to increase gradually over time.

As for the specifics, there are many different exercise plans on the internet that can help you in your efforts. Many plans start with walking or light jogging with different loads. This way, you can get used to carrying extra weight while performing the movements with a lighter load. After that, you can add intervals of sprinting or hill running to your program to increase resistance and difficulty. Once you have become familiar with the basic movements, you can increase the intensity and duration of the individual training sessions before eventually moving on to rucking with heavier loads and longer distances altogether.

Some coaches recommend training both with and without a ruck when preparing for a mission as this ensures that your body is appropriately conditioned regardless of the equipment it has to wear during the task at hand. In addition, completing circuit training with weighted core exercises can help strengthen the chest and back muscles, which are important when carrying a ruck for long distances.

In summary, while training for rucking is fairly simple, it’s important for individuals to take the time to increase both weight and distance covered to reduce the risk of injury. Various online training plans bring structure to the process, but you must know your own limits (and respond accordingly) to reduce fatigue and prepare for an enjoyable rucking experience.

Training for rucking should be tailored to individual experience and physical fitness. Begin slowly with shorter, easier distances and gradually increase the distance and weight carried. Intervals of sprints or hill climbs can increase resistance and difficulty, while exercises that focus on the chest and back muscles help build strength for rucking. Following an online training plan can provide structure, but recognizing personal limits is key to reducing fatigue and avoiding injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I safely increase the weight for rucking?

You can safely increase the weight for rucking by following a few simple steps:.

  1. Start with a weight that feels comfortable and that you can manage. Gradually increase the load as your body becomes stronger and gets used to carrying extra weight. Take regular breaks and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid heat-related illnesses so that you can continue to exert yourself without overdoing it.
  2. Focus on the right form when you ruck. Keep your core tense, shoulders down and back, and lean slightly forward as you walk. Just walk straight — do not zigzag — so you don’t put extra strain on your back or legs.
  3. Use quality gear that fits well and is designed to distribute weight evenly across the body for maximum comfort. Quality backpacks are specifically designed to carry extra weight better, while poorly fitting backpacks can cause unnecessary discomfort and even injury if you carry too much weight that is not properly distributed across the backpack. Invest in quality gear that is suitable for rucking before you add weight.

What are the most important safety considerations when rucking with weight?

When rucking with weight, it is important to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Here are five important safety considerations:

  1. Use the right backpack for the job - Make sure that your backpack and straps can comfortably carry the extra weight and fit securely against your body. Avoid uncomfortable or loose straps that can cause chafing or slipping.
  2. Wear the right shoes - Make sure your footwear provides enough cushioning and support for the terrain you plan to ruck in. Ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters or other injury-related problems.
  3. Stay hydrated and take breaks when needed - Rucking puts a lot of strain on your body, so it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the trek to avoid possible fatigue from heat or muscle cramps. Take breaks as needed, especially if you feel exhausted or experience unusual symptoms.
  4. Pay attention to load distribution - When rucking, distribute the weight as evenly as possible on both shoulders and the back. This will help minimize pain and discomfort, so make sure your load is balanced in terms of both size and weight.
  5. Pace yourself - Don’t overdo it by going fast or carrying too much weight at once! Start small and gradually increase as you get more comfortable with rucking over long distances with added resistance.

If you follow these safety precautions while rucking with weight, you should be able to enjoy a safe and fun experience while reaping great benefits from this workout routine!

Which weights are best for rucking?

The best type of weight for rucking is one that is evenly distributed and easy to carry. This can be any kind of weight, including sandbags, kettlebells, weighted vests, backpacks filled with books or other items, dumbbells, and other heavy objects.

It is important to use weights that are comfortable and manageable for your fitness level. Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase it as you feel  more comfortable and get stronger. Also make sure that the weight is evenly distributed throughout the body and not concentrated in one area. This will help you avoid possible injuries caused by your body tipping to one side as you walk.

Sandbags are probably the best choice for most beginners as they are light, easily adjustable, and relatively inexpensive. Kettlebells are also great for those who are looking for an intense workout as rucking with them requires a lot of core strength. Weighted vests are ideal for increasing the difficulty level as they distribute weight evenly over the whole body and you can adjust the weight as needed to achieve your specific goals. You can also fill a backpack with books or other items if you don’t have access to weights.

It is important that you choose a weight that suits your individual needs and goals. Whether for fitness purposes or otherwise, the priority is comfort and manageability to avoid possible injury. By carefully considering these factors, you can choose a weight that best suits you and allows you to perform your activities safely and effectively.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}