What is Rucking?
Simply stated, rucking is walking while carrying a weighted backpack!
Based on this elementary definition, we have all spent many days and hours leisurely rucking over the course of our lives - dating back to kindergarten when we carried our backpacks to and from school each day. Obviously, rucking for fitness is a bit different than merely carrying a backpack to school, however, the essential concept is the same. When we are rucking for fitness, we are marching with a purpose - conditioning ourselves to travel certain distances on varied terrain while carrying weight for the express purpose of physical training.
While rucking, as a civilian fitness activity, has been gaining more attention and growing in popularity over the past few years, rucking dates back over 200 years to the American Revolution.
In the military, soldiers have been and are trained to march for extended periods of time with their rucksacks ("backpacks") that are heavily weighted down by their provisions and equipment.
What are the Benefits of Rucking?
There are a myriad of health benefits associated with rucking. From a cardiovascular standpoint, rucking increases your heart rate and burns as many calories as jogging (and only slightly less than running) but without the undue impact stress that jogging/running puts on your body and its joints, particularly your knees.
Rucking is not only beneficial as a cardio workout but it also builds strength. The added weight load on your back provides a great upper & lower body workout, including your legs, back and core.
Of all the benefits, one of the most profound associated with rucking is the effects it has on one's posture. Contrary to most people's knee-jerk reaction, properly carrying extra weight on your back actually pulls your shoulders back and puts them in proper alignment and encourages a person to stand tall and in an optimal position.
Aside from the purely physical benefits, rucking also promotes a generalized sense of health and well-being because when we ruck we are outside in nature, engaging our senses and being an active participant in our immediate surroundings.
Lastly, rucking encourages us to be social. Although we all may enjoy some solo rucks to relieve life's stresses and quiet our minds, rucking is typically more enjoyable when we have a friend or teammate to interact with along our journey.
What Equipment Do I Need to Start Rucking?
A comfortable backpack that has enough structural integrity to withstand the desired weight you intend on carrying, something to take the form of weight, and a good pair of socks and shoes/boots are all you "need" to begin rucking.
How Much Weight Should I Use?
Not surprisingly, how much weight one should use for rucking is subjective and largely depends on an individual's fitness level at the time they decide to enter the world of rucking. A relatively fit person who starts rucking will initially be able to carry more weight and for greater distances than someone who has been predominantly sedentary. A good rule of thumb for starting is to begin carrying 10% of your body weight and start with rucks that are 30-45 minutes in duration.