Unpacking Rucking: The Ultimate and Effective Way to Carry Weight

Ever wondered why the military swears by rucking? It’s because it’s simply the most effective way to carry. Imagine being able to transport your belongings, all while getting a killer workout. That’s the beauty of rucking.

Rucking combines the practicality of a backpack with the intensity of a fitness routine. It’s not just about lugging around a heavy pack. It’s about doing it efficiently, and that’s where the real magic happens.

So, if you’re looking to up your fitness game, or simply want a more efficient way to carry your stuff, rucking might just be your answer. Stick around as we delve deeper into why rucking is the ultimate carrying solution.

What is rucking?

To truly understand why rucking is highly esteemed as a practical and fitness-boosting activity, it’s pivotal that you grasp what rucking is in the first place. Rucking is a simple yet effective physical activity that encompasses the carrying of a loaded backpack while walking or running. Originally, rucking was an exercise specially designed for military personnel. These people had the need to transport large amounts of gear over varied terrains, making endurance and strength a necessity. Today, however, it has gained widespread popularity as a comprehensive form of exercise that suits anyone seeking to improve cardiovascular health, build strength, and burn calories.

It’s no accident that rucking is named after the “rucksack,” a term for a backpack typically used in the military. For your rucking to count, your backpack needs to have some weight in it. Rucking traditionally involves carrying around 10 to 20 percent of your body weight in your backpack. Though the precise weight can vary based on your personal fitness level and the intensity you aim to achieve.

During rucking, your body muscles are put under consistent stress due to the heavy load on your back. This stimulates muscle growth, strengthens your core, and enhances your overall stability. What’s more, the additional weight raises your body’s energy demands. This leads to a significantly higher calorie burn rate during the exercise.

More than just a solid fitness routine, rucking has real-life practical applications as well. You’re not just burning calories—you’re also learning to carry weight efficiently. This skill comes in handy when you’re carrying groceries, moving furniture, or hauling heavy luggage. And with rucking, you learn to do all these while maintaining good posture, minimizing the risk of injury.

With that said, rucking is an adaptive, functional, and all-inclusive fitness activity. It doesn’t solely reside in the realm of athletes, hardcore hikers, or the military—it’s for everyone.

The benefits of rucking

Diving into the specifics, there are many benefits tied to rucking that give it an edge over traditional exercises.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Rucking provides a great cardiovascular workout. Regardless of the weight load, this exercise cranks up your heart rate! It’s more than a walk in the park. Going rucking is essentially like having a gym on your back.
Studies have shown this workout can be just as effective if not more, as running but imposes less impact on your joints.

Strength Building

Your body’s muscles will certainly get a workout from carrying a heavy backpack around. Likely, you’ll see an increase in your overall body strength. It’s a natural way to work your core, shoulder, and leg muscles, helping to build and tone your body. Notably, rucking is an effective exercise to strengthen your back and improve posture.

Calorie Burning

When it comes to burning calories, rucking is a game-changer. An hour of rucking burns twice as many calories as walking or hiking. Remember, the heavier the ruck, the more calories you’ll burn.

ActivityCalories Burned Per Hour


What gives rucking an extra edge is its inclusivity. This exercise suits anyone willing to step outside with a backpack. You don’t have to be a part of the military or an athlete to enjoy the benefits of this workout. Varying the weight of the backpack makes it adaptable for all fitness levels.

It’s clear to see why rucking is becoming a popular addition to exercise regimes. With these benefits, you might want to consider adding rucking to your workout routine. But what about the actual process of rucking, and how can you get started? That’s what we’re diving into in the next section.

How does rucking compare to other forms of carrying?

When comparing rucking to other forms of carrying, you’ll find that it’s noticeably more effective and beneficial. Here’s why.

Rucking vs Regular Backpacking

Regular backpacking involves carrying a lightweight load on your back. Whereas in rucking, the weight is significantly heavier. This extra weight provides increased resistance which contributes to overall fitness improvement.

  • In rucking, you burn twice as many calories per hour compared to regular backpacking
  • The heavy load in rucking helps build strength and endurance

Rucking vs Weightlifting

Weightlifting can build strength, but it’s not as versatile as rucking. Weightlifting is a stationary exercise and targets isolated muscles at a time.

  • Rucking engages and strengthens your entire body.
  • Unlike weightlifting, rucking provides cardiovascular benefits

Rucking vs Running

Running is a high-impact exercise, which means it can put a lot of stress on your joints. In contrast, rucking is a low-impact exercise.

  • Rucking is less likely to result in injuries compared to running
  • It also incorporates strength training which running doesn’t offer.

To really understand these comparisons, let’s look at some figures.

Exercise TypeCalories Burned per HourStrength BuildingCardiovascular Benefit
Regular Backpacking200-300NoYes

Next, we’ll delve deeper into the unique benefits of rucking that make it the optimal form of carrying… but that’s a subject for another section.

Rucking technique and tips

Now that you’re clued in on why rucking surpasses traditional forms of carrying and exercise, let’s delve into the technique and some strategic tips that can boost your rucking efficiency.

Proper Rucking Technique

When it comes to rucking, technique is crucial. Get it right. Ignoring proper form can lead to injuries over time. Ruck with an erect posture. Maintain a straight back, align your head with the spine, keeping your eyes straight ahead. Ensure your loaded backpack snugly fits your back, minimizing empty space between your back and the pack, reducing sway and lowering risk of back strain.

Pack your Ruck Right

Packing your ruck correctly adds to the comfort and effectiveness of your ruck routine. Ensure even weight distribution in your ruck. Heaviest items should be packed close to your back and higher up. This elevated center of gravity aligns with yours, enabling easier carrying. Adventure gear like foldable shovels, water bottles, and food supplies go lower and outwards, keeping them conveniently reachable.

Pace Yourself

Like any new exercise, it’s essential to start slow and steady with rucking. Begin with a 15-minute ruck, at least twice a week. As your strength and endurance improves, gradually increase duration, distance, and load. Listen to your body, and remember, there’s no rush. The goal is to achieve a sustainable, enjoyable ruck routine that reaps all the health and strength benefits rucking promises.

Vary your Terrain

For more challenge and improved strength training, explore different terrains for your ruck. Flat, paved routes offer an easy start. As you progress, start rucking on hilly areas, then uneven terrains like trails, woods, or even beaches. Each terrain introduces different challenges, strengthening various muscle groups, adding inferred complexity to your simple ruck.

Rucking gear and equipment

Before we dive into the specifics of rucking gear, let’s establish one key point: rucking gear can be simple or complex, depending on the length and complexity of your ruck. Let’s explore the essential items you’ll need to start.

First off, the most crucial piece of gear is a high-quality, comfortable backpack. Without it, you’ll struggle to perform the exercise safely or effectively. Your backpack needs to support the weight inside, have a good strap system, and shouldn’t be too large.

When it comes to the actual weight, use anything with a certain heaviness, fixed shape, and solid form. You can use sandbags, weight plates, or books. Start with about 10% of your body weight and increase gradually as your strength improves.

Now let’s turn our attention to your feet. Sturdy footwear is a critical aspect of rucking. For most, a good pair of hiking boots will serve well. They provide ankle support, grip, and room for thick, cushioned socks. Comfort and durability, in this context, directly translate to performance.

The rest of your clothing should be suitable for the weather and comfortable enough for long periods of activity. Consider moisture-wicking and lightweight materials for hotter weather, whereas cold weather needs layers and thermal features.

Lastly, don’t forget hydration and nutrition. Always carry ample water, especially for longer rucks. For sustenance, consider lightweight, high-energy snacks like energy bars or nuts.

Ensuring you’re adequately equipped will help make your rucking workout more effective. A well-packed bag, decent footwear, and the right attire go a long way in preventing discomfort, fatigue, and injury – so don’t underestimate the importance of good gear and equipment.

As you prepare for your next ruck, remember to review this list and ensure you’ve packed all the essentials. Your body and your performance will thank you for it. Stay tuned for our next section where we’ll break down the benefits of rucking in more detail.


So, you’ve got the gear, the know-how, and the determination. It’s clear that rucking is your ticket to a more efficient carry. Don’t forget the importance of a high-quality backpack and the right weight to start with. Your footwear matters too, as does your clothing choice. Hydration and nutrition are non-negotiables. Remember, it’s not just about the carry; it’s about doing it right and safe. Rucking is indeed the most effective way to carry, but only when you’re well-equipped and prepared. Now, it’s time to get out there and show the world what you’re made of. Happy rucking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of backpack is recommended for rucking workouts?

A high-quality, comfortable backpack that can support the weight and has a good strap system is recommended for rucking workouts.

What can be used as the actual weight for rucking?

Ideally, sandbags, weight plates, or books can be used as weights for rucking. Start with about 10% of your body weight and gradually increase as your strength improves.

Is a specific type of shoe recommended for rucking?

Yes, sturdy footwear like hiking boots is recommended for ankle support and grip, crucial for long rucking workouts.

What type of clothing should be worn during rucking?

Your clothing should be suitable for the weather and comfortable for long periods of activity. It should not hinder your movement during the exercise.

How important is hydration and nutrition during rucking?

Hydration and nutrition are crucial during rucking. It’s important to stay hydrated, and maintain adequate energy levels throughout your workout as it can be strenuous and potentially dehydrating.

What is the significance of being adequately equipped during rucking workouts?

Being adequately equipped helps to prevent discomfort, fatigue, and injury during rucking workouts. It ensures that you can effectively and safely carry out this form of exercise.


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