In recent years, rucking has become popular amongst fitness enthusiasts — and for good reason! It improves your cardiovascular health, enhances your fitness and stamina levels, builds strength and endurance, and encourages you to enjoy the outdoors.
One of the main reasons for its popularity is that rucking improves heart health and increases lung capacity. But you get all these benefits without having to invest heavily in equipment or pay for expensive gym membership.
But because rucking involves carrying a weighted backpack, it can give you a workout that is equal to certain gym-based exercises. It’s an effective way to manage and lose weight. The added weight in the backpack increases calorie burn during your walk, making it a suitable exercise for those looking to shed pounds.
What’s more, rucking outdoors has an added advantage of the gym — natural settings provide mental health benefits. It can reduce stress, improve mood, and offer a sense of relaxation and well-being.
However, you don’t need access to nature reserves and parks to enjoy and engage in rucking. You can walk in various environments including urban streets. For all intents and purposes, you’re just an ordinary guy or gal walking down the street carrying a backpack — and maybe dressed in exercise clothing. You’ll blend in.
Whether you’re a beginner or looking to start a rucking program, here’s how to get started:
Choosing the Right Gear
Select a sturdy backpack that can comfortably carry weight. It doesn’t have to be a military-style rucksack, but it should have adjustable straps and a waist belt for stability.
Weighting your Backpack
Use weight plates, sandbags, or other weighted objects. Start with a reasonable weight, like 10-20 pounds, and gradually increase as you become more accustomed to trucking.
If you’re new to rucking or fitness, begin with a light load to avoid overexertion and injury. Aim for a total weight of 10-20 pounds, including the backpack.
Choose Your Route
Start with a relatively flat and straightforward route to get accustomed to rucking. As you progress, you can explore more challenging terrain and elevation changes.
Maintain good posture while rucking. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and chest up. Engage your core to support your lower back.
Before rucking, perform a brief warm-up, including dynamic stretches for your legs, hips, and upper body. Warming up helps prevent injury.
Begin with a moderate pace, similar to your normal walking speed. Rucking is not a race, and it’s more about consistency and endurance.
Increase Intensity Gradually
Over time, increase the weight in your backpack and the distance of your rucks. Aim to increase your rucking distance or weight by about 10% each week to avoid overtraining.
Use Proper Footwear
Wear comfortable, supportive shoes or hiking boots with good arch support. Proper footwear can prevent foot and ankle discomfort.
Bring water with you and stay hydrated during your rucks. Even in cooler weather, you can lose fluids through sweat.
Rest and Recovery
Give your body time to recover between rucks. Incorporate rest days into your program, especially as you increase the intensity and duration of your rucks.
Keep a log of your rucks, noting the weight, distance, and duration. Tracking your progress helps you set goals and measure improvement.
Rucking can be physically demanding. Listen to your body, and if you experience pain, discomfort, or fatigue, it’s essential to stop, rest, or seek medical advice if necessary.
Join a Group
Consider joining a rucking group or club in your area. Rucking with others can be motivating and provide a sense of community.
Mix It Up
To keep your rucking program interesting, vary your routes and terrain. Explore different parks, trails, and urban areas.
Establish clear goals for your rucking program. Whether it’s improving your cardiovascular fitness, building strength, or training for a specific event, having goals will help keep you motivated.
Remember that consistency is key when starting any fitness program. Gradually increasing the intensity of your rucking sessions will help you build endurance and strength over time. Additionally, consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new fitness program, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns.