How can I train to run/jog/march while carrying 50 to 100 pounds? Such as training to do the Fan Dance (SAS March) Fan Dance

On my first attempt to train, I put two 10 pounds ankle weights and some heavy books in a backpack (totaling about 25 pounds), when running I had pain in the rhomboideus major area.

The next day I ran without the backpack and I felt light as feather, but the back pain worried me.

How can I increase weight without harming my back? The backpack does not bounce and I always make sure to stretch, is there any secret in the army to running/jogging with heavy weights?

The weather where I train is uneven, cold and snowy. I use a 5.11 Rush 24 backpack and Blackhawk boots.

Related info

  1. The catalog containing some info about the boots here, apparently neutral (no inversion support) shoes (good thing) and mobile (light-weight etc).

  2. Some catalog info about the backpack (investigating)

  • This picture is quite good about different exercise zones here. Research here and here. Since this kind of endurance things are challenging, it is much easier/cheaper to be pro-active (rather than fix the injuries) hence prevention here (sorry pay-only apparently). Stop if pain --back-pain with other backpack?
    – user2598
    Dec 30, 2011 at 5:00
  • Great links, I am also making some research and found this decent advice link . Dec 30, 2011 at 5:22
  • Sorry but avoid NSAIDs as long as possible, you can make life-time damage in wrong hands, more here. Make sure you have proper skeletal nutrition in gels (easy digest) -- you may find useful browsing some of my questions and here about interval training. You can do it with style, needless to kill/damage yourself like 10-30% recruits do (again this here)! Get heart monitor and start tracking your progress as soon as possible.
    – user2598
    Dec 30, 2011 at 5:41
  • BUT you can make much greater damage if you do not know how to use certain things such as Mg, Ca, Zn and other skeletal things. The mechanism with Ca -going to bone is not straight forward. The reason why some irrigation solution happens to have 0.9% of NaCl contentraction is to some extent based on Nobel prize works relating to NPTpase (most doctors not even aware). Things I have covered are not easy although they sound everyday stuff -- but there are amazingly simply solutions here-and-there like to certain cuts and pruises...sorry too much stuff, perhaps someone covered them somewhere..
    – user2598
    Dec 30, 2011 at 5:49
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    @hhh I bet your comments would look great if they were consolidated and turned into an answer. Jan 3, 2012 at 16:17

4 Answers 4


Are you training to join the military? If so, you should be coordinating your training efforts with your recruiter or selection officer. You're going to feel real stupid if you blow out back one week prior to your ship date.

If you're not training to join the military I would advise you against this kind of exercise. Sure you might feel like a bad*** running around carrying a backpack full of rocks, but there's a reason this kind of training is only seen in the military or in professions like smoke jumping. It's because they have to be physically capable of these things and thus they must train for them. That does not at all mean it is healthy or safe - for example the number two disqualifying injury for USMC OCS candidates are stress fractures due to running. Anyone I've talked to who has spent a tour in the infantry has earned a great deal of lingering minor injuries due to their time spent in military.


Looks like you don't have the strength to handle that weight. Most likely a better way to go about it would be starting with a basic strength program until your muscles are strong enough to deal with the load.

Things like heavy squats and deadlifts (starting strength type of program), combined with unloaded running and uphill sprints. If you have access to a sled, use it.

Once your strength is improved enough to handle the load, then you can start putting the weight on your back and run.

Running with weights is something you can do as a consequence of being strong, but not a good way to get strong in the first place. The potential for injury is high, and the load is too small to produce the strength adaptation you need.


I was in the Marine Corps and I used to run 3 miles with 50lb sandbag in my ruck. I would NOT recommend doing this, your chances of injury are great. If you're not in the military already, I would encourage you that you do not need to learn to RUN with a pack. You'll go to boot camp and you'll do very little running with a pack on. You will do lots of "humping" (aka walking around) with heavy pack. The only units I've seen that run often with a weighted pack are snipers/recon etc. Even then, they do what I call the "Old Man Shuffle", rather than flat out running. If you are determined to train with a weighted pack, I would suggest loading down your ruck and getting on a Stairmaster, if your gym has one. This will smoke you and will more closely simulate the type of effort you'll be putting in at bootcamp etc.


I believe if you want to train with more weight from a backpack you should do things like doing sit ups and then grab something heavy and do a sit up if you get comfortable and don't have anymore back pain then you could probably add a backpack and start out with a comfortable weight. Or you could wear the backpack everywhere you go by add a few pounds each day

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