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Beyond Walking: What Is Rucking and How to Reap Its Rewards Safely

Posted by Triple Naturals I On Jan 23, 2024
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Lifestyle Fitness

You might be wondering: what is rucking? Are you tough enough to find out? This very underrated yet super-effective workout is worth a look.

What Is Rucking?

The term “rucking” is essentially derived from the term “rucksack,” meaning the military-type utility training backpack used by troops. This type of bag is known for its military applications. It’s used to carry equipment and supplies over tricky terrain that’s often impassable by vehicle.

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“Ruck marching” is a form of rucking used in the military to test the physicality and endurance levels of recruits. A typical ruck march will consist of a 12-mile trek while carrying a 35-pound rucksack. The march must be completed within three hours. By default, bulky as well as heavy, this rucksack inadvertently offers an intense cardiovascular and anaerobic workout anyone can benefit from.

Now, rucking has made its way onto the mainstream fitness workout scene, but with a twist. Not only is walking with a heavy backpack considered rucking, but now the workout has expanded to include other activities while wearing the rucksack. For example, you can do exercises like pull-ups, body squats, lunges, push-ups, and more with the addition of the rucksack.

What Are the Benefits of Rucking?

What is rucking, and why is it so great? It turns out that the unexpected benefits of rucking are many.

Equipment is simple and cheap—you don’t need any specialized equipment. Technically, you can just wear a weighted backpack. As for your outfit, anything that is comfortable and allows you to move freely is the perfect fit. Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes, and you’re ready to go.

Get stronger—adding the weight of a rucksack will naturally force your body to adapt and get stronger as you walk, especially as you move through more strenuous calisthenic and body-weight movements.

Individualized workout—you can completely go at your own pace. Walk fast or slow. Use more or less weight. You can also choose to include other exercises in your routine in addition to walking as you get used to the workload.

Improve your balance—yes, having an unsteady weight that you carry on your shoulders while moving through various activities can help improve your balance. If you can balance while doing a workout with a rucksack on your back, once you take it off, balancing normally will seem like a breeze.

A great community activity—rucking is a great workout to do with friends. It’s easy to get a group of “ruckers” together and head out. Since there is no real wrong answer when it comes to rucking, you can include as few or as many friends as you’d like.


Improve your fitness like never before—rucking may leave you breathless at first, but with time and practice, you will gain strength while improving your cardiovascular health and endurance levels.

Highly adaptable—rucking is a workout compatible with virtually any fitness level or age group. Because there is no set weight for the rucksack or timeframe for completion, you can use a more lightweight pack with light walking all the way up to a heavy pack with multiple exercises included.

Super calorie burner—while both walking and weightlifting can burn lots of calories, combining the two (a.k.a. rucking) is an even bigger calorie blaster. And, the more weight you add to your pack, the bigger the calorie burn.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Rucking?

What are the drawbacks to rucking? It can be subject to the weather. While you technically can do a rucking workout indoors, the main environment is outdoors.

Also, some folks may want to progress too quickly by adding too much weight to the pack or doing exercises too quickly before they are strong enough to manage the extra weight without injury. Take it slowly and build up your strength. This isn’t a race.

If you are rucking outdoors, make sure to dress appropriately, layer up, and wear sunscreen. Bring plenty of water. Also, make sure you have supportive shoes, so you don’t strain your ankles, knees, or hips.

Rucking properly and getting better at it takes time and commitment. This is not a once-in-a-while workout. If you stop your regular ruck sessions, be sure to work your way back up to speed (and weight) slowly.

What Is Rucking and How to Get Started

Now that you can see what a great and modifiable workout rucking is, it’s time to try it out for yourself.

First, determine how much weight to put in your rucksack. It’s best to start with something very lightweight. Try 5 – 15 pounds to begin. Work your way up in weight over time as you get acclimated to each new amount you carry. Once it starts feeling easy again, it’s time to add some weight. Try adding increments of 2.5 – 5 pounds at a time.

Next, start by walking. Go short distances at first, increasing the distance a little each time you venture out. Slowly add weight, distance, or incline to your rucking workout as you get stronger and your aerobic capacity improves.

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As you get more fit, you can add some body-weight work to your routine. Try doing some lunges while you walk or stop for a few body squats or push-ups after every five minutes of walking.

Really, while walking is the main action in rucking, your imagination is the only limit when it comes to creating a great workout for yourself. Just mix it up and keep on rucking.

What is rucking? Rucking is the next great workout that you need in your life. Not sure where to start? Check out local clubs and communities and join other ruckers for fun and fitness. And welcome to the world of rucking!

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