What Is Rucking?

Rucking is a form of exercise done by walking with a weighted backpack. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Rucking refers to walking with a weighted backpack. With origins in the military, where training requires walking with a backpack filled with supplies and equipment, rucking is considered a wonderful alternative to running. Now, this is especially good for those of us who hate running and other cardio workouts. Anyone who can walk, can ruck. Simply place some weights in a backpack, strap it tight, and walk — an extremely simple workout.

You can increase the intensity by extending the walking distance or increasing the weight of the rucksack or walking faster or going uphill. With every step, your back, shoulders, glutes, and legs are trained. Rucking is much more interesting than the boring old treadmill. According to GoRuck, the backpackers who made rucking popular, you can burn up to 3 times more calories than normal walking.

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Rucking can be combined with other activities like carrying logs and pull-ups for maximum impact. Like most forms of physical exercise, this also works mentally by disciplining you and encouraging you to go to the next level of fitness. Next, let’s look at some of the benefits of rucking consistently.


As it is, we sit hunched down in front of the computer, laptop, or phone all day long. Our back’s bent, and posture crooked. Simple workouts of 20 minutes can’t fix the 10-12 hour seating problem. While rucking, the weight inside the backpack pulls back on your shoulders and places them into the right alignment with the body. Doing this consistently solves your posture problem.

(Image: Georgia National Guard via flickr CC BY 2.0 )
While rucking, the weight inside the backpack pulls back on your shoulders and places them into the right alignment with the body. (Image: Georgia National Guard via flickr CC BY 2.0 )

Burning fat

Rucking is an excellent substitute for running. Without proper form or for people with flat feet, high intensity running, over prolonged periods of time, harms the knees and joints. The stress laid on the body during long-distance running opens the door to injuries and complications. Rucking is especially helpful for older folks, and gives almost the same rate of calorie burn as running.

Strength building

As you ruck more often, the muscles will be trained harder and will develop to give you more strength to counter the resistance. Rucking builds core strength to help you balance the weights on your back, while your glutes and legs, along with the back, go through a hard workout each time you go for a walk with weighted backpacks.

What you should not do

You should not run while rucking. Running while rucking multiplies whatever problems you have related to running. You are more prone to wearing out joints and knees, and your back will take a toll. There is something else you could do instead of running. It’s called ruck shuffling. But you need to gain some experience and form with rucking before you try this out.

Another thing you must be careful not to overdo is the weights. You must start at a comfortable level — something like 20 lbs — and increase gradually (for example, 5 lbs per week). The body will be conditioned to it, and you will feel all the better. Otherwise, this may adversely affect your back.

(Image: Screenshot / YouTube)
Be careful not to overdo the weights or it may adversely affect your back. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Out with friends

To continue on with an activity and make it less boring, you need to combine it with someone you enjoy spending time with: it could be friends, family, co-workers, etc. Rucking gets you out and about, and when you have friends for company, you will be motivated to stick with it and continue the daily routine. And always have something delightful to enjoy after a long workout. It’s important to keep your spirits up and look forward to something while out rucking.

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