The ruck is an awesome piece of equipment to help build your body and move your gear from one location to another.
First of all – What is a “ruck”? It is nothing more than a backpack. So to ruck march, is to carry a heavy duty backpack on a hike (loaded with gear and supplies).
The key is not to run, but to merely walk, hike fast or double time (jog).
Video – Ruck Marching Tips
Grab Your Buddies and sign up for a GORUCK event HERE!
For your ruck – an internal frame pack works great. I like one with a hip strap and shoulder mid strap to help secure the load and keep it riding close to my body.
If your training for the military or you have a job where you work outside and need to ruck in gear (environmental consultant, park ranger, emergency medic, etc.) you will need to have a good internal frame backpack.
During Navy SEAL training at BUD/S we used the old Alice pack during the land phase (Phase 3). Later on the Teams we used a pack called the Berghaus that was larger and had hip straps and very durable.
Check out how to find a cheap durable ruck
Check out the 5.11 Tactical Rush Backpack @ Amazon.com
You will need to load up your water and some gear and possibly food to get out down range to do your job. Here are a few tips to help get you in shape for working outdoors and rucking gear to your next location.
Ruck March workout #1
Ruck with 15% of bodyweight 1 mile
100 sit ups
Ruck 1 mile
200 push-ups on ruck
Ruck 1 mile
300 air squats
Ruck 1 mile back to base
More Ruck Marching Tips
If your training for a military boot camp like SEALFIT Camp (a.k.a. Kokoro Camp), BUD/S, GSG-9 or others then find out what kind of ruck that they use. Does it have hip straps? Internal frame? What ruck sack weight do they use?
Video – Ruck Marching Tips
Check out the Bates 8 inch Tropical Dura-Shock Boot worn in Navy SEALs training
Ruck Marching Tips:
1. Distribute your load. Put most of weight in the middle of the pack. You can add weight easily by adding water jugs. If the weight is too much then pour some water out. Plus you will have water for your trip. Adding several sand bags – or sand bricks is a great option. You can make a sand brick by putting sand in a thick plastic bag and duck taping it.
Check out this video on how to make a sand bag for your ruck.
2. Break in your boots now. Dont take them fresh out of the box. Fresh boots will shred your feet on a big hike. Break them in slowly and be ready for later long distance hiking. Check out these tips to break in boots – here
3. Carry extra water and supplies in case of a problem. Be aware of your body in the heat and shield yourself from the sun with a hat and bandanna and sunscreen. If it is hot I like to put a t-shirt on my head and soak it in water to keep me cool. Many athletes like to carry a water bladder in their ruck.
4. If you dont have a ruck/backpack then try a weighted vest as they work great as dual purpose at the gym.
Ruck March Workout #2
50 Strict Pull-ups
100 Push-ups, release hands from floor at the bottom
If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
More Ruck Marching Tips
Tip #5. To train effectively try to mirror what the Rangers and SEALs are using so that when you get to the training you will be ready to go and acclimated to that type of gear. Dont show up at SEALFIT Kokoro Camp or a GoRuck Challenge having never worn a ruck and with boots that are not broken in. You will pay severely for that mistake.
Check out this article on Tips on How to Toughen Your Feet
Start out with a short ruck march and slowly build your distance up. Add hills over time. Keep a training log of your distance, terrain and time. For Kokoro an athlete should have rucked 20 miles in hills continuously. For 20X you should hike 8 miles in hills in your training before the event.
What are some tips for tips for ruck marching in the rain? If you have a pair of waterproof boots that is a good start. I also throw on a poncho or rain jacket to keep the water out. You can also get a cover for your backpack to keep the water out.
A good way to fix a blister during a ruck march is to put a piece of moleskin (with a hole cut out of center) on the blister. Then put duck tape on top of that. A recent Kokoro graduate used that method for four days at the Turning Steel course in Montana.
Check out this article on keeping a training log and how to improve
Question: “Coach, can I go rucking with my book bag?”. You can but make sure you have a way to get the weight centered in the top of the bag. Be careful as many book bags are not set up to carry lots of weight as the straps will probably break. Good luck.
Question: “Coach, do hikes help train for the Navy SEALs?”. Yes, you can use ruck marching to help train for any Special Forces.
Question: “Coach, what are tips for ruck marching faster?”. First off – don’t run. To ruck march faster you need to get your body used to rucking. This will enable you to ruck longer and harder without taking breaks. With a heavier pack you are more apt to stopping which will eat up time if you are on a timed ruck and need to get to a destination.
Question: “I am in the Army. What are some stretches to do prior to a ruck march?”. I would do a mobility warmup of slowly kicking legs forward and backwards – 10 each leg. Then side to side kicks. Then a light jog then walking lunges.
Question: How to improve your time on the “pack test”?
The Work Capacity Test (WCT), known informally as the pack test, is a U.S. Forest Service physical test for wildland firefighters. The pack test is intentionally stressful as it tests the capacity of muscular strength and aerobic endurance of the firefighter. There are three tests known as arduous, moderate, and light. The pack test may be given as part of the S-130/S-190 basic wildland firefighter course.
The firefighter will need to train a minimum of 4 weeks before the test with the boots and gear needed for the job. It is recommended that the firefighter train for the arduous test by building up their aerobic fitness, first by hiking 3 miles with no pack, then by jogging on a flat course without a pack, then later add the pack and hike hills to build leg strength. Increase weight slowly until the firefighter can hike 3 miles in 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.
Question: My ruck pack is digging into my lower back. What can I do? Add kidney pads or use foam rubber and duck tape to create a cushion.
Question: I am training for the GoRuck – what can I do to help harden up or toughen my feet? Check out the tips above.
Question: What is the SEALFIT kokoro camp rucksack that is used? The backpack used at Kokoro is very basic and cheap in price $27. You can get more info on the ruck here online at NavySEALs.com.
Question: Will squats help you ruck march? Yes; of course. Air squats and weighted squats are good. Also add in walking lunges. You can also do them with your pack on.
Question: should i train for ruck marches in boots? Yes; train how you will fight.
Question: How far would Navy SEALs hike? In BUDS you end up hiking a dozen miles or so but it was through harsh terrain like a boulder choked ravine. Practice now with a ruck on longer hikes as that is one less thing you will have to worry about later.
Question: Do you use a hip strap on ruck marches? Yes; we like to use one if your carrying a heavier load. Check out the Us Army Molle Desert Camo Molded Waist Belt.
Question: I keep getting chafed when I go out on ruck marches – what do you do to prevent this? I use Bodyglide anti-chafe balm in my crotch area, feet and nipples. We also recommend wearing compression shorts when hiking or on long endurance events.
Question: How much does Special Forces back pack weigh? Depending on the mission and terrain it can weigh as much as 100 lbs or more.
Question: What socks do you wear at buds? We used to wear the wool/cotton blend dive socks but now they wear Darn Tough Vermont Merino wool socks at BUDS.
I also have a pair of the new Darn Tough socks and they are very good.
Question: What is a good backpack for practice rucking? Try the Alice pack for starting out and practicing.
Question: Can I use compression socks on a long ruck march? Yes; compression socks are good for any long distance endurance event.
Question: On our last long ruck march my butt and crotch got a bad rash – the guys in my unit call it “monkey butt” – what do you do? We use a diaper rash cream or Bodyglide Original Anti-Chafe Balm to stop chafing. We also wear Nike Pro Compression Shorts. This will eliminate most chafing.
Question: What is the ruck sack that was used in BUDS Navy SEAL training? I want to get one to train like that. In BUDS they use the G.I. Type Alice Pack.
Question: How can I prevent chafing in the GoRuck event? Wear compression shorts and use body glide on your crotch, nipples, feet and under arms.
Question: What are good navy seal training methods for ruck marching? Put on your ruck with 30 lbs plus and go hiking in the mountains. Start slow and work your way up.
Question: Can I add a hip strap for my GoRuck backpack? Yes; you can add a hip strap to help you hold the load and take extra pressure off your shoulders, helping you ruck further.
Question: I have a new GoRuck pack – how can I add a chest strap and hip straps? Check out GoRuck’s new ruck add on’s here:
Question: Have you ever heard of athletes using pedialyte on a long hike with hot weather? Yes; you could use pedialite but you could also just use gatorade in a 50/50 water mixture or just add a Nuun tablet as they have no sugar and work just as well.
Question: I am interested in joining the Navy SEALs, where can I find out more info on the Navy? Check out this website here http://www.navy.mil/
Question: I own a vest and a ruck and was wondering if there were any major differences between doing a body weight workout with using one over the other. I did a 1 hr. AMRAP of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, and 15 squats yesterday and used a 20 lb vest but was wondering if the ruck would have made any differences. Thanks,
Answer: The ruck is purely on your back vs the weight vest is spread out on front and back. So yes; there will be a difference.
Question: What is a good ruck/backpack for military training? Preferably MOLLE with a slimmer design. I had a goruck SD20 but it was too small and goruck was too pricy to upgrade. Could you please give me a goruck alternative that can support a good amount of weight?
Answer: An Alice pack is a good alternative that is much cheaper and can be used for training.
Question: Is it true that you were also an instructor at Outward Bound and did a ton of hiking there? Yes; I hiked several dozens of miles on the Appalachian Trail one summer.
Question: Hey brad, just got done reading the 3 tips from a special forces operator article. I wanted to ask you what is a good starting weight for rucking. I haven’t ever done it before but need to start doing and and want your advice on how to start and how to build up distance and weight. Very respectfully,
Answer: Good question, Cordell. I would start out with 15 to 20 lbs (water, gear, small sand bag or food).