what is rucking

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Have you ever considered turning your ordinary walk into a powerhouse of fitness? Welcome to the world where what is rucking isn’t just a question, but an invitation. An activity birthed from military training, now embraced by civilians seeking strength and solace under the open sky. It’s as simple as walking with weights in a backpack. Nevertheless, this practice elevates each movement into a journey of enhancing both the body’s vigor and the mind’s tranquility.

Rucking sneaks up on you; not with complexity but with weighted simplicity. A pack filled might contain anything from water bottles to barbell plates – transforming weight into wellness. The challenge? Carrying that heavier load over long distances or through your daily route.

This exercise doesn’t discriminate; whether young or older adults find themselves at home within its embrace. And while the concept sounds straightforward, its impact dives deep across both body and mind landscapes – enhancing general fitness levels without demanding much beyond what you already do: walk.

A single session can elevate your heart rate akin to jogging sans the joint strain. Therefore, it stands out as a prime choice for individuals aiming to enhance their heart health while sparing themselves from unnecessary bodily strain.

What Is Rucking?

what is rucking

Rucking is an exercise where you walk or hike while carrying a weighted backpack or rucksack, often across different terrains and for various distances.

Rucking might sound like a tough guy’s game, but guess what? It’s for everyone. Let’s dive into this world where fitness meets simplicity.

Origins of Rucking

what is rucking

Rucking isn’t some trendy new workout that just popped up on your Instagram feed. The practice of rucking, embedded deeply in military drills, serves as the fundamental training regimen for armed forces worldwide.

Imagine carrying all you need to survive on your back over long distances and rough terrains. That’s rucking in its most primal form.

The term itself spills from “rucksack,” which is military speak for a backpack loaded with essentials. So, when we talk about rucking as exercise, it’s walking or hiking while shouldering a weighted pack, your plate carrier set up, or even just a weighted vest.


Rucking as a Fitness Routine

Now, don’t let its hardcore origin story intimidate you. Over time, ruck marching evolved beyond the barracks and found its way into our parks and sidewalks as an accessible yet challenging fitness routine.

  • Easily Accessible: All you really need is something to carry weight in (like any sturdy backpack) and some weight (think water bottles, sandbags, body armor, or barbell plates). However, you’ll find you want some legit gear once you get into it.
  • A Full-Body Workout: Unlike many exercises that target specific areas, rucking demands effort from your legs to lug around the extra pounds while engaging your core and shoulders to stabilize those heavy items.
  • Mental Grit: There’s more than muscle power at play here; mental toughness gets forged too. You learn discipline by sticking to it even when it gets tough out there on mile three…or four…or five.

What is rucking you ask? You’re not just taking a stroll; you’re building endurance both physically and mentally every step of the way—no wonder so many folks beyond military members are adding rucking backpacks to their gym memberships. 

Whether starting light with just 10% of your body weight or going heavier for an increased challenge – if you can walk, well my friend – welcome aboard.

This blend of physical intensity combined with outdoor accessibility makes rucking, or rucksack marching, stand out in today’s crowded fitness landscape. Many have decided to embrace this simplicity – lacing up those boots, loading up our packs, and hitting the trail marks only the beginning. 

No fancy equipment is needed here. Just grit, ruggedness, a bit of heart, and perhaps some curiosity.

Key Takeaway: What is rucking?

Rucking is more than a military drill; it’s an all-inclusive fitness routine that combines strength, endurance, and mental toughness. It’s simple to start—grab a backpack, add some weight, and go hit the trail or anywhere you want to walk. 

This workout challenges your whole body and mind but doesn’t need fancy gear or gyms. Just you, your pack, and the path ahead.

What Is Rucking and its Health Benefits?

Rucking isn’t just a stroll in the park with a heavy backpack (even though it looks that way). It’s your next level-up in training because it weaves strength training into your cardio routine. 

But it doesn’t stop there. This powerhouse activity also takes a swing at improving your mental health when thrown into your exercise routine.

Improving General Fitness with Rucking

Let’s get physical:

  • Rucking is accessible to all ages and fitness levels, making it a great way to boost general fitness.
  • Incorporating weight-bearing strides with the natural terrain’s challenges, a rucking workout offers a dual benefit, merging strength training and cardio into one efficient session.
  • You’re not only burning calories but building muscle too—especially those legs and core muscles that are oh-so-important for overall strength.

You can start light and gradually add more weight as you grow stronger. Even if you just start with some water bottles before progressing to a weighted vest or some barbell plates strapped snugly in your loaded pack.

Mental Health Advantages of Rucking

what is rucking
Getting out into the wilderness makes everyone feel better.

A breath of fresh air for your brain:

  • Not just a physical test, rucking also serves as a mental exercise, stretching its advantages into the cognitive sphere. Fitness can enhance mood, improve sleep quality, and significantly boost well-being through outdoor exposure. This includes rucking.
  • The act itself—a mix between meditative walks under open skies and carrying that extra load—challenges both body and mind simultaneously. A sort of mindfulness on the go if you will.
  • Another bonus: Since rucking is typically performed outdoors, it brings along massive doses of vitamin D alongside elevating endorphin levels—all crucial elements for battling stress or anxiety. Mix this with your regular study of the best bible verses to boost strength and you’re armored against the anxieties of the modern age.

Ruck Packs: Essential Equipment for Rucking

Now that we’ve covered what is rucking, let’s dive into the heart of rucking – the ruck pack. It’s more than just a bag; it’s your workout partner.

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Vertx Gamut 2.0 is a great pack for rucking and general use. Plus save some coin with code “STRENGTH”

Choosing the Right Ruck Pack or Rucking Backpack

A good ruck pack is like finding the perfect pair of shoes – it fits just right and feels great, even under pressure. So, what should you look for?

  • Durability: You want something that can withstand miles without tearing apart at the seams or shoulder straps from the heavy load.
  • Comfort: Wide, padded straps are non-negotiable. They distribute weight evenly across your shoulders to avoid any nasty pinching, chaffing, or pain.
  • Chest Strap and Waist Straps: These aren’t just add-ons; they’re essentials for keeping your load stable when you’re on the move.
  • Fitness Tracker/ Gear Compatibility: If tracking progress is your thing, make sure there’s room for your fitness tracker, water, and any other essential gear too.

Brands like GORUCK have set high standards with their specially designed packs that cater exactly to this need although they are overpriced since they have blown up in popularity. Your budget and overall goals come into play here also.

Are you rucking purely for the fitness aspect of it? Or are you adding it to your preparedness plan?

Your intentions will determine what you ruck with. For a fitness-only approach, you can opt for a workout-oriented weighted ruck pack like this one that won’t break the bank like others out there.

what is rucking

If you’re planning on rucking with your fully loaded bug-out bag, then maybe you’d prefer something like this military Alice rucksack.

Some of the best rucking backpacks and rucksacks can be found here, and the best part is if you use discount code “STRENGTH”, you’ll save some extra cash! I personally like the Oakley and Viktos backpacks for rucking and daypacks alike.

Check them out if quality matters as much to you as it does to us here at Men of Strength USA.

Picking out a ruck pack isn’t about grabbing any old backpack lying around. Trust me, an hour in with 20 pounds on your back will make you wish you had chosen wisely. 

But it can be a start! Don’t let not having the latest and greatest overly expensive tactical bag keep you from getting out there!


Use code “menofstrength15” at Elite Survival Systems for 15% off!⤴️

Packing Your Ruck Strategically

Gone are the days when stuffing everything but the kitchen sink was considered packing smartly—especially not in rucking where every ounce counts twice over long distances. Here’s how to do it right:

  1. Add heavier items first so they sit close to the body, reducing sway and improving balance during your walk, hike, jog, or whatever you choose to do.
  2. Balance is key – ensure both sides carry equal weight to minimize lopsidedness, thus avoiding potential muscle imbalance or strain down the line. Mix up the contents using barbell plates wrapped in towels (for extra padding), water bottles (hydration is crucial.), ruck plates, even yoga blocks or anything else that adds resistance training benefits without unnecessary bulkiness or awkward shapes sticking out and poking your ribs with each step you take.

Remember folks, start light and gradually increase the workload. This gives your muscles a chance to adapt, growing stronger over time because ultimately, the goal here is to get fitter and healthier while having fun while doing it.

Key Takeaway: 

Choosing the right ruck pack is crucial but not needed to get started: look for durability, comfort, and stability features. Pack smart by balancing weight evenly. Quality packs like we mentioned are worth checking out for a good fit.

Starting Your Journey with Rucking: A Beginner’s Guide

We’ve covered what is rucking, got some pack ideas laid out, and you’ve decided to hit the trail. We’ll simplify it step by step, making sure you begin your adventure with a solid foundation—starting from the ground up.

what is rucking
Photo by GORUCK.com

Maintaining Proper Form While Rucking

Rucking is more than just walking around with a heavy backpack. It’s a legit exercise. The key is maintaining proper form to avoid injury and maximize benefits. 

Keep your back straight, shoulders squared but relaxed, and let those core muscles support that extra weight on your back.

Incorporating Resistance Training into Your Overall Routine

If rucking is the only fitness activity you do for now that’s fine but I recommend you introduce some strength training exercises to complement rucking and your overall wellbeing.

Even adding in some strength training exercises mid-ruck can add some variety and difficulty to your workout.

Think squats or lunges mid-ruck; these aren’t just for show—they build muscle power to aid in your fitness journey. I suggest starting light, so don’t go loading up barbell plates on day one.

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Setting Up a Sample Rucking Routine

  • Kick off easy: Start by rucking once or twice a week with about 10-20 pounds in your pack for 1-3 miles.
  • Vary the terrain: Mix it up between streets and trails to challenge different muscle groups.
  • Pump up the volume: Gradually increase both weight and distance as you get stronger—listen to your body and it will tell you when it’s ready for more or it needs to rest.

If you’re feeling adventurous, check out local ruck events. They’re not only fun but also offer camaraderie—a chance to meet others who share this unique hobby of carrying weights long distances (yes, we exist).

Remember, always start light, take care of yourself, and have fun.

Rucking Vs. Running: A Comparative Analysis

So, you’ve been hitting the pavement or the treadmill for ages, and now you’re curious about rucking? Or maybe it’s the other way around. 

Regardless of your starting point, exploring the differences between these activities unveils their unique impacts on calorie expenditure, muscle building, and cardiovascular wellness.

pexels photo 2827392

Calorie Burn in Rucking Vs. Running

First off, both running and rucking torch calories—but in different ways. When you run, it’s all about speed and distance; that familiar burn is a sign of calories melting away. 

But with rucking? It’s like walking but with a twist—you’re carrying extra weight on your back which ups the ante. That strength-building aspect boosts your calorie-burning abilities significantly and gets you to a higher heart rate.

The magic here is simple: more weight equals more effort needed to move that weight over a distance—which means more calories burned. Think of it as walking combined with weight training in a sense.

Impact on Muscle Building and Cardiovascular Health

Muscle-wise, ruckers have an edge because they’re essentially doing resistance training while moving. This isn’t just about legs either; shoulders, back—even core—get in on this action thanks to that weighted pack.

If we pivot to heart health, running takes center stage. Those high-intensity sprints are unmatched for pumping up cardiovascular endurance quickly due to increased heart rate peaks during runs compared to steady-state activities like walking—or yes, rucking. 

But don’t count rucking out yet. It offers a gentler option for those looking at long-term joint health without sacrificing cardio benefits—a slow-burn approach if you will.

Rounding things off—it boils down to personal preference really (and maybe knee longevity). Whether you prefer lacing up those sneakers to run for miles or strapping on some extra pounds before taking on those trails – remember each step counts towards better fitness overall.

Both paths offer unique challenges along with their perks—and hey if variety spices life then mixing them up could be your ticket. So why not give each a chance in your routine?

Key Takeaway: 


Rucking and running both torch calories but in their own unique ways—rucking adds weight for a supercharged walk, while running focuses on speed. Ruckers gain muscle through resistance training, whereas runners boost heart health with high-intensity sprints. Ultimately, the choice between them depends on personal preference and what you’re aiming for in your fitness journey.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rucking

Lately, rucking’s been catching on as everyone’s favorite way to stay in shape. However, as it climbs the ladder of fame, a slew of inquiries inevitably follows in its wake. Let’s dive into some common ones.

Can You Ruck Every Day?

Absolutely. Think of rucking as walking but with a bit more spice thanks to the added weight. It’s low-impact enough for daily adventures and packs a punch in terms of calorie burn and endurance building. However, listen to your body – if you’re feeling sore or fatigued, take it down a notch or give yourself a day off.

Is Rucking Suitable for Older Adults?

You bet. One beauty of rucking is its accessibility across age groups. For older adults looking to stay active, rucking can be an excellent choice because it strengthens muscles without putting too much strain on joints. Gradually increase the weight as your strength improves – this way you’re challenging yourself safely.

Does Rucking Build Ab Muscles?

While not specifically targeted at abs like crunches or planks might be, ruckers often report tighter cores. This isn’t surprising considering maintaining balance and posture under extra weight engages those core muscles big time. So yes, expect some solid ab work along with the overall physical benefits.

In short: Yes, ruck every day if you feel up to it; absolutely suitable for older adults when approached wisely; and indeed beneficial for those ab muscles we all care so much about. 

Whether seeking general fitness improvement or just looking forward to exciting ways to explore outdoors – give rucking a try and see how it transforms your workouts beyond the ordinary walk in the park.

Key Takeaway: 


Rucking spices up daily walks with added weight, making it great for calorie burning and endurance. It’s perfect for any age and can sneakily strengthen your abs. Ready to amp up your fitness in a fun way? Dive into rucking.

What Is Rucking? Wrapping Up This Guide

what is rucking
Photo by Business Insider

We’ve explored what is rucking, starting from its strong military beginnings to how it’s changing the way we exercise today. It’s more than just carrying weight on your back; it’s about becoming stronger in body and mind. We’ve learned that this simple but effective activity can boost our overall fitness and provide peace of mind in a busy world. 

What is rucking you ask? Rucking is not just walking; it turns every step into a statement of strength. With the right backpack and determination, you’re not only moving forward; you’re breaking limits. And honestly, there’s a real satisfaction in covering distance with extra weight—it makes us feel like heroes in our own adventure story.

We now know how to choose the best backpack for rucking and how to pack it properly. We’ve also seen how resistance training fits perfectly with rucking. Is there really a competition between running fast and rucking? It seems they’re actually working together to help us become healthier.

For anyone wondering if they could include this in their daily routine or if age might be an issue—rucking is welcoming everyone warmly (and ready). It gently suggests improving your core strength without needing intense workouts or fancy equipment.

This isn’t just another passing fad; it’s an opportunity to transform what endurance means—to weave strength into our everyday lives. Rucking offers more than physical benefits; it opens doors for mental resilience and creating connections with others, helping us face challenges as a team with courage and kindness.

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