Boosting Strength with Rucking: Start-Up Guide and Health Benefits

What is Rucking?

Dive deeper into the popular world of fitness and exercise and you’ll come across a term quickly gaining traction – rucking. Derived from the military’s practice of “ruck marches”, rucking involves carrying a loaded backpack or ‘rucksack’ while walking or hiking.

The weight of the pack increases the intensity of your walk hence, transitioning a monotonous cardio routine into a challenging full-body workout. This fitness activity emerges as a perfect way to keep your workouts interesting and more productive!

The beauty of rucking is its simplicity. You don’t need any fancy gear or a specific location to get started. Sparse equipment is all that’s needed – a backpack, some weights, and your walking shoes. Whether a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast, anyone can integrate rucking into their exercise regimen.

A typical rucking session involves walking at a brisk pace with a pack containing 10 to 20% of your body weight. However, as you grow stronger, so will your rucksack – by adding more weight, you get a more strenuous workout. Hence, it’s an adaptable workout, easily tailored to meet personal fitness goals.

Despite its simplicity, it’s important to begin rucking with caution. Going straight into carrying heavy loads can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Take it slow initially and gradually increase intensity as strength and cardiovascular fitness improve.

As well as enhancing your heart health, rucking helps tone the upper body and core much more than ordinary walking.

  • Works the back, shoulders, and core muscles
  • Enhances cardiovascular fitness
  • Burns significant calories

Benefits of Rucking

Unpacking the benefits of rucking, you’ll find it’s more than just a full-body workout. It’s a powerful way to improve both your physical and mental health. What might surprise you are the varied fringe benefits that aren’t as widely discussed. Let’s ruck through them together, shall we?

Enhances Cardiovascular Health

Rucking is a low impact, high reward exercise that’s easy on your joints. By using a weighted backpack, you raise your heart rate, promoting cardiovascular fitness. Walking for long distances with added weight helps increase your heart’s strength and endurance. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, rucking can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Burns Calories and Helps in Weight Loss

One of the major benefits of rucking is its effectiveness in burning calories. Depending on the distance you ruck, the weight in your pack, and your pace, you could burn anywhere between 300 to 500 calories an hour. You can consult the following table to get an idea:

Distance (in miles)Weight (in pounds)Pace (miles per hour)Calories Burned

Strengthens Core and Upper Body

Apart from the calorie burning and cardiovascular benefits, rucking also gives your core and upper body muscles a proper workout. The strain of carrying a heavy pack conditions your shoulders, traps, and back muscles. At the same time, it requires you to keep your core engaged to maintain balance and stability.

Boosts Mental Health

Lastly, let’s not forget the influence of outdoor activities on mental health. The combination of natural scenery, fresh air, and physical exertion during rucking can stimulate endorphin production. These “feel good” hormones are well known for their ability to alleviate stress and anxiety. Hence, rucking can be an excellent tool in your mental wellbeing toolkit.

Rucking vs. Traditional Walking

Rucking is an exercise routine that has rapidly gained popularity, but what sets it apart from traditional walking? And more importantly, why should you opt for rucking over an uncomplicated walk around the block?

A key distinction between rucking and traditional walking resides in the backpack loaded with weights that you wear during a ruck. This extra weight does more than just enhance your workout – it modifies it entirely. The additional weight increases the exertion level of your stroll, compelling your body to burn more calories. In fact, rucking can burn between 300 to 500 calories an hour, trouncing a traditional walking workout.

Broadening our lens to the other health benefits that rucking provides, you’ll see that the exercise regimen offers a considerable advantage over simple walking. Your cardiovascular health gets a boost with every ruck you undertake, pushing your heart and lungs to perform more than they would during a typical walk. The muscles in your upper body and core engage in a way they wouldn’t with traditional strolling, allowing rucking to provide a full-body workout.

But there’s more to rucking than physical benefits. The process of carrying that weighted backpack over long distances is a challenge for the mind as well. Rucking stimulates the production of endorphins in your brain – your body’s natural mood elevators. This can help to lower stress, anxiety, and even the risk of mental health issues, making rucking not just a physical workout, but a mental one too.

In comparison, traditional walking, while beneficial in its own right, does not offer the same comprehensive range of benefits described above. It lacks the muscle-strengthening impacts and the calorie-burning intensity. Plus, mental health benefits like endorphin production are typically much lower.

So, while both rucking and traditional walking are excellent forms of exercise, it’s clear that rucking takes fitness to another level. The same roads, trails, and routes await you, but it’s ultimately your decision whether to take them on with, or without, some extra weight on your back.

Rucking for Cardio and Calories

Taking your workout routine one step further, you’ve come across the term ‘rucking’. But what’s the big deal about this fitness regimen, and what makes it more effective than a traditional walk in the park?

Rucking isn’t simply a pastime activity, it’s a high-intensity workout that takes walking up a notch. By adding a weighted backpack to your walk, you’re increasing resistance and making your body work harder. This upswing brings a myriad of benefits, with cardiovascular improvement and calorie-burning at the core.

If you’re seeking a cardio workout that doesn’t include high-impact exercises like running or skipping rope, rucking’s your friend. The steady, sustained effort lowers your resting heart rate and improves your heart’s efficiency. It’s a low-impact cardio workout, making it gentler on your joints than running. Yet, it still gets your heart rate up and keeps it there.

Rucking also comes with a hot ticket in the fitness world – calorie burning. It’s no secret that the key to losing weight lies in creating a calorie deficit. Here’s where rucking struts in, flaunting its calorific credentials over traditional walking. As the load on your back increases, so does the number of calories you burn.

To give you a perspective, a person weighing around 150 pounds could burn approximately 125 calories from a 30-minute gentle walk. However, the same person, going at the same pace but rucking with a 20-pound backpack, could burn almost double that amount, nearing 240 calories.

ActivityCalories burnt in 30 minutes (for 150lb person)
Gentle Walking without load~125 Calories
Rucking with 20lb load~240 Calories

By maintaining this elevated calorie burn over time, weight loss becomes more attainable. And there’s the bonus: the more weight in your pack, the more calories you burn.

Rucking isn’t just ticking boxes for cardiovascular health and calorie burning. It’s also setting the stage for full-body strength building. But, that’s a story to tell another time.

Rucking for Upper Body and Core Strength

Imagine turning your regular walk into a strength training session that targets your core and upper body. It’s not just a fitness fad. It’s rucking! With every step you take with a loaded backpack on your shoulders, you engage your core and strengthen your upper body muscles.

Rucking amplifies the physical benefits of simple walking by challenging your body to sustain extra weight. This weight puts your body – especially your upper back, shoulders, and core – under continuous but controlled stress. Ever notice how engaging your abdominal muscles helps you maintain a steady posture while standing upright with a heavy backpack? That’s rucking at work building your core strength!

During this enjoyable workout, you’re not only burning away calories but also boosting muscle endurance. Let’s take a close look at how your upper body and core benefit from this rugged yet refreshing activity.

Rucking requires you to maintain a good posture – which means keeping your back straight and chest out. Maintaining this posture under the weight of the backpack involves your upper body muscles and engages the core constantly, resulting in improved core strength and upper body muscular endurance.

The consistent and prolonged engagement of these muscles during a ruck acts as a catalyst for lean muscle growth too. Incorporating rucking in your fitness regime can help you achieve a toned upper body and a fortified core over time.

Without adding strain on your lower body joints like running or heavy lifting, rucking offers you a unique low-impact but highly effective workout option. Effectively, you’re getting a cardio session with the bonuses of muscle strengthening and toning.

How to Get Started with Rucking

A journey into the world of rucking doesn’t demand a mountain-high learning curve. Here’s how to take your initial strides toward harnessing the benefits of this low-impact, high-reward exercise.

Decide on Your Load

First, you must choose the weight you’re going to carry. If you’re just starting, aim for around 10% of your body weight. Say, for instance, you weigh 150 pounds. You’d then start with a load of 15 pounds. Keeping the weight lighter will help condition your body for heavier loads, which can be gradually increased over time.

Select a Proper Backpack

A comfortable, durable backpack is key for rucking. Look for one with multiple compartments to distribute weight evenly. Padding on the back and shoulder straps will add comfort during your ruck. Also, find a backpack with a snug but not overly tight fit to avoid bouncing, which can cause discomfort or injury.

Dress Comfortably

Appropriate clothing is imperative for any workout. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that wick sweat away for optimal comfort during your ruck. Don’t forget about your feet – aim for supportive, comfortable shoes to cushion your feet and aid in post-ruck recovery.

Construct a Rucking Schedule

Remember, the key idea behind rucking is not speed but endurance. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to rucking. Construct a rucking schedule that includes short walks, gradually increasing the distance over time. Blocking out specific times of the day to ruck will help you stick to your schedule and achieve your fitness goals.

Remember to Warm Up and Cool Down

Before stepping out for your ruck, it’s important to get your muscles ready for action with a gentle warm-up. After you return, spend a few minutes cooling down. This can help to avoid muscle soreness and keep you in the game longer.


So, you’ve seen how rucking can ramp up your fitness game. It’s not just about upper body and core strength; it’s a full-body workout that’s easy to start and rewarding to maintain. With the right gear and a well-planned schedule, you’re set to embark on your rucking journey. Remember, don’t skip your warm-ups and cool-downs. They’re crucial to keep muscle soreness at bay and prevent injuries. Rucking is more than good for you; it’s a lifestyle change that can elevate your health and fitness to new heights. Now, it’s time to strap on that backpack and take the first step. Happy rucking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is rucking?

Rucking is a form of cardio workout that involves walking or hiking while carrying a weighted backpack. It works on improving your upper body and core strength.

How can rucking help improve my fitness?

Rucking provides a full-body workout. The added weight in the backpack enhances the intensity of a regular walk, thus working your upper body, core strength, and even posture.

How should I get started with rucking?

Begin by choosing a weight suitable for your fitness level and a backpack that fits properly to distribute weight evenly. Dress comfortably and plan your rucking schedule progressively.

Why are warm-up and cool-down essential before and after rucking?

In rucking, warm-up exercises prep your muscles while cool-down exercises help in their recovery, preventing soreness and reducing chances of injury.

What should I consider when constructing a rucking schedule?

A rucking schedule should be progressive, starting with smaller weights and shorter durations, gradually increasing as your body gets used to the routine. Remember to rest between rucks for muscle recovery.


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