Rucking 101: Understanding What It Is & How To Get Started

What is Rucking

Imagine this: you’re hiking, but with an extra challenge. Picture yourself carrying a weighted backpack, the muscle-building stress flowing into your legs and shoulders, the fat burning away with every stride. That’s rucking. This simple form of exercise packs a punch, proving that you don’t need expensive gym equipment to get a full-body workout.

Derived from the military term “rucksack,” the fundamental idea behind rucking is to load up a backpack with weight and walk. Originating from military training drills, survivalists, soldiers, and others in physically demanding roles adopted it as a way to build strength and endurance. Of late, however, fitness enthusiasts discovered that rucking isn’t just for the hardened military personnel. It’s for everyone.

Rucking is versatile and accessible. Whether you’re an experienced gym enthusiast or someone beginning their fitness journey, rucking is an adaptable routine. You control the difficulty level: you decide the distance, the speed, the weight, and even the terrain.

Considered a low impact workout, rucking is kinder to your knees and joints compared to running. By tweaking the weight in your backpack, you can effectively transform a walk into a calorie-burning, strength-building activity. Rucking also engages your core, back, and shoulders more than traditional hiking or walking.

Apart from the physical benefits, rucking offers fantastic opportunities for social exercise. It’s perfect for doing in groups, making it a popular choice for social fitness events.

As you plan to integrate rucking into your fitness regime, take note of some essential tips. Start slow, understand your limits, and gradually increase the weight in your backpack. Remember to maintain good posture to avoid injury and to get the maximum benefit from your workout.

Rucking in Military Training

When it comes to applying fitness methods with real-world utility, rucking shines. Quite often, rucking is associated with military training where it has earned a reputation for being a tough, effective workout.

Rucking is just not limited to personal fitness. In the military training, it’s referred to as a forced march. Armed Forces around the world have used rucking as a fundamental part of their training regimen for centuries. This form of training is considered a staple because it tests both physical and mental endurance. It’s not just about the distance or the weight on your back; it’s about pushing through when every muscle in your body wants to stop. Rucking is not just a workout, it’s a test of will.

The military set their rucking standards fairly high. On average, soldiers are expected to carry anywhere from 45 to 65 pounds on their back during long treks. The weight doesn’t include personal protective gear which can add another 60 pounds.

Let’s take a look at some compelling military rucking standards:

Military BranchMinimum Distance (miles)Weight (lbs)Time (hours)
US Army12353
US Marine Corps3301
British Army8552

You see, military rucksacks are not just loaded with frivolous weight, they carry essential supplies and equipment: food rations, communication equipment, ammunition, medical supplies – all essentials for survival in combat situations. It’s important for a soldier to be able to carry these weights for extended periods, across different terrains, and in all kinds of weather.

Consider rucking as a sort of bridge between the gym and the real world. In essence, rucking in military training is about simulating the harsh elements of a battleground to prepare soldiers to face any situation with strength, endurance, and resilience.

Benefits of Rucking

You may be wondering, “why should I try rucking?” It’s more than just a military exercise. This endurance building activity presents numerous health benefits, offering a well-rounded workout that rivals even the most rigorous gym sessions.

A standout amongst rucking benefits is the increased cardiovascular fitness. The backpack weight adds resistance, putting your heart and lungs to the ultimate test. It’s your ticket to step up the cardio game without the high impact stress on joints that’s common in running.

Let’s not forget about strength training. Fluctuating the weight in your rucksack can significantly improve your full-body strength. It’s particularly beneficial for your core and lower body, challenging your quads, glutes, and hamstrings like no other.


Increased cardiovascularThe added weight puts the heart and lungs to a test, improving overall fitness
Full body strength trainingFluctuating weights improve core and lower body strength, targeting key muscles

And there’s more to it; rucking also enhances your mental grit. The challenge of completing a ruck under the added weight stressors cultivates resilience and mental fortitude in the face of adversity. It provides a sense of accomplishment and boosts your confidence.

Rucking, besides the physical benefits, also promotes community and camaraderie. Rucking groups are common and provide a support network, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual support. For many, rucking serves as a form of social exercise, binding people together through shared experiences.


Mental gritBuilds resilience, mental fortitude, and boosts confidence
Social & community aspectPromotes camaraderie and shared experiences within rucking groups

Keep in mind that while rucking is a tough workout, it’s also versatile. You have the control to adjust the weight of your rucksack and the distance covered according to your fitness level. This makes it a suitable exercise for both beginners and veterans, making it a practice worth considering.

How to Start Rucking

How to Get Started with Rucking

So now that you’re keen on rucking, how do you start the process? It’s simpler than you might think. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to kickstart your rucking journey.


First, you’ll need a backpack or as the military likes to call it, a rucksack. Ensure it’s strong and can support heavy weight.

Next up, you’ll need weights. This could be anything sturdy, even books. Over time, you might want to invest in specialty weights designed for rucksacks. The weight you carry should start at about 10% of your body weight. As your strength and endurance increase, you’ll gradually add more.

Getting Started

Begin with a shorter distance before setting bigger goals. A good starting point could be a 2-mile walk with your weighted backpack. Clock your time and make note of how you felt during and after the ruck. This data will help you track your progress.


As your strength builds, aim to up the ante. Increase your distance and weight gradually. Remember, the goal isn’t to burn out but to build up sustainably.

Safety First

Regardless of how far or how heavy you ruck, always remember the importance of maintaining good posture to prevent injuries.

Rucking is a fantastic full-body workout that’ll test your physical and mental fortitude. Whether you’re a workout pro or a complete novice, rucking offers a workout to challenge everyone. So why wait? Grab your gear and get going! Remember, it’s not just about getting fit but becoming a harder and better version of yourself. With every step you take, you’re forging a stronger, more resilient you.

Next, we’ll explore some tips and tricks to enhance your rucking experience. From ideal equipment to proper form, we have you covered. Discover the world of rucking and unleash your inner warrior.


So, you’ve got the lowdown on rucking. You know it’s more than just walking with a weighted backpack – it’s a challenge for both body and mind. You’ve learned about the gear you need and how to start small and work your way up. You’ve understood the significance of good posture to keep injuries at bay. Now, it’s time to take that knowledge and put it into action. Embrace the challenge, tap into your inner warrior, and start your rucking journey today. You’re equipped with all you need to know. So, go ahead and conquer those miles. Remember, every step is a step towards a stronger, healthier you. Happy rucking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What equipment is needed to start rucking?

To start rucking, you need a sturdy backpack and weights. As per your agility and capacity, initially choose a weight that’s manageable and a backpack that can comfortably carry it.

How should I start rucking?

It’s advisable to start rucking with a shorter distance. Gradually, as your endurance improves, increase both the distance you cover and the weight you carry in your ruck.

How important is posture in rucking?

Maintaining good posture while rucking is vital. It helps prevent injuries and ensures you get the most out of your workout. Remember to keep your back straight and avoid slouching.

What do I gain from rucking?

Rucking challenges both your physical and mental fortitude. It’s a full-body workout that helps you build strength and endurance. Embrace rucking to tap into your inner warrior.


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