Let’s talk about ruck plates. What are they? They are the specially designed weight plates for rucking. We’ll highlight some great products that are both functional and helpful, but we’ll also talk about some other alternatives that are versatile in their own right.
First of all, why do you even need ruck plates? Can’t you just use anything that’s heavy – like a dumbbell, a regular olympic plate, or a rock?
Yes, you can. But there’s a lot of good reasons to have ruck plates if you are going to get serious about ruck training.
First of all – odd sized objects take up too much room. There won’t be room for anything else in the pack, or the object will put other things (or your backpack) at the risk of damage. Odd sized objects can’t hold a candle to the size to weight ratio of proper ruck plates.
Rucking is walking (or marching) with a loaded rucksack – military slang for a backpack. Carrying a heavy load for a long distance is a great endurance exercise – the extra weight “increases the energy cost of locomotion.” But it’s low impact compared to jogging and running and burns a lot more calories than walking.
Secondly, it’s got a deep tradition rooted in military training – so it’s both effective and practical.
But we also love it because it’s simple, effective, and doesn’t require a lot of expensive gear or training.
Secondly, odd objects can be a pain – literally. You don’t want anything repeatedly jabbing you in the back (or making noise) on a 10 mile ruck. And forget about carrying things other than in your ruck. Your grip will tire out long before your legs do if you attempt to carry these objects. So, ruck plates in the appropriate shape are easy on the body, stable, and a minimum source of noise.
Further to that point, for effective rucking the weight has to be high on your back – this produces the most useful training stress to build a strong upper body. We don’t want the weight low around the lower back, or anywhere else. You’ll have a challenging time getting odd shaped objects in the right position for the optimal training effect (it also helps to have a good, purpose designed rucking backpack.)
So, ruck plates make rucking more efficient. And if it’s not going to be efficient why waste the time?
And lastly, the best progression in fitness is always made through gradual, slow increments. Ruck plates give you easy to control increments – so you can make measurable progress. And, consider this. If you need a 20 lb weight for a GORUCK Light you are going to be hard pressed to find a barbell plate in that size.You are going to end up with a 22 pound (10 kg) or 25 pound plate. That extra 5 pounds is going to add up over the miles…
And further, neither of those fit well in most backpacks.
Ruck plates solve all those problems. And they are versatile too. They’ve normally got hand grips – so you can use them as a sort of weighted fitness implement even outside the confines of your rucksack.
And they are not that expensive, really. Compare them to the price you’d pay for a high-quality kettlebell.
So, now that your convinced about the benefits of using ruck plates, let’s look at some options.
GORUCK Ruck Plates
For beginners, you don’t want to ruck with more than 10% of your bodyweight. As you progress, you can load up more weight. A 20 lb ruck plate would be good for the average sized adult, you can always move up to a 30 lb plate later. As you can see, the biggest ruck plate is 45 lbs – that’s probably the most you should ruck with as an advanced trainee.
GORUCK Ruck Plates come in two flavors – Standard ruck plates and Expert ruck plates. What’s the difference? How is a 20 lb “Expert” plate different than a 20 lb “Standard” plate? Generally the Expert plates are more compact – meaning they pack more weight in smaller dimensions (they are thicker than the standard plates).
Some people feel the Standard ruck plates offer a better weight distribution, and in some cases your choice will be driven by what fits most efficiently in your rucksack.
The weight increments currently available are:
- 10 lbs Standard
- 20 lbs (Standard and Expert available)
- 30 lbs (Standard and Expert available)
- 45 lbs Standard
The TSA doesn’t have a specific rule about ruck plates, but : “Sports equipment that can be used as a bludgeon (such as bats and clubs) is prohibited in the cabin of the plane and must be transported in your checked baggage.” Therefore, we recommend that ruck plates be in checked baggage for air travel. They should not be transported in your carry-on luggage.
Should you use two 10s to make a 20? Not if you don’t have to. It’s better to keep it to a single plate at a time – that’s less noise and more stability in your ruck.
Want the whole set of Expert plates? GORUCK now offers that in a Expert ruck plates bundle. That’s a 10lb, a 20lb, and 30lb.
Some other key points: Made in America, and built with tight tolerances for quality.
What are they made out of? Ductile iron with a powder coated matte black ( and rust resistant) finish. They are ergonomic, with rounded edges and handle openings. The wide “grab and go” handles mean you can use them to get in a workout with your ruck if needed, as well.
In summary, at first ruck plates seem overly specialized – but if you are serious about the most efficient ruck training, they make a ton of sense.
Fit At Midlife Bottom Line:
Ruck Plates make ruck training more efficient and effective.
Compared to other specialty fitness resistance gear they are reasonably priced.
The innovator in this field is GORUCK, and their ruck plates work in conjunction with their rugged rucksacks.
Now that you’ve decided on ruck weights – be sure to check out our guide to rucking backpacks as well. The GORUCK weight plates work best with a GORUCK backpack – which is also designed to get that load high on your back. You may also want to check out our ruck footwear guide.
We’re a GORUCK affiliate – so if you order equipment after clicking the links in this article we receive monetary compensation. But that’s not why we recommend GORUCK. It’s because their equipment is innovative, built to last, and made in America. They are the driving force behind rucking not just as exercise, but as a way to make people better. And that’s why we love them.
- Some product photos are provided by the manufacturer, and are property of the manufacturer.