Rucking For Weight Loss

Rucking For Weight Loss

Walking with weight on your back (aka "rucking") is not a new concept. In fact, humans have carried food, water, supplies, and weapons for thousands of years, oftentimes on their backs. Rucking is the most efficient way to carry a heavy load, and the fitness benefits (like weight loss) are immense.

Why is rucking for weight loss so effective?

Rucking is a full body workout. It involves your legs, back, shoulders, and core. It also increases your heartrate and improves the capacity of your lungs, so the cardiovascular benefits are similar to running. Rucking can improve anyone's strength, endurance, heart health, and mental health. Because it makes you stronger and improves cardio at the same time, rucking torches calories. What happens when you torch calories? You guessed it. Your body changes. For many, that means weight loss. Here are seven reasons rucking is an effective tool for weight loss...

1. Rucking Torches Calories

Rucking burns about 2-3X more calories than walking (you can use our rucking calorie calculator to figure out your own average calorie burn per hour). The bottom line is rucking is simple and effective at burning calories and improving fitness. Read our beginners guide to rucking to learn how to get started.

2. Rucking is a Strength Exercise

One of the great benefits of rucking is that the calorie burn doesn't stop when you take off your rucksack. Because the large muscle groups of your legs, back, shoulders, and core work while you're rucking, your body will be in a recovery state for a few hours after working out. Your muscles need replenishment and repair (this is why hydration and nutrition are so important), and that process takes energy. In short, recovering from strength training keeps the calories burning long after the workout. The combination of cardio and strength makes rucking for weight loss an easy choice.

3. Rucking is For Life

Consistency is essential for weight loss. It means showing up for yourself every single day, no matter what your goals are. If your goal is weight loss, rucking will keep you in the game longer because it's low impact. Running can be hard on the joints, especially the knees and hips, but rucking is just walking with added weight. There's no pressure to go fast (in fact, we recommend 20 minutes per mile for beginners), you can easily carry water and some energy bars, and your sunglasses won't bounce off your head. So if you're in it for the long haul (and weight loss can be a worthwhile, long journey), give rucking a shot.

4. Rucking Is Accessible and Simple

Here's a reason you should try rucking: because you can try it right now. You don't need a membership, studio, or fancy equipment to ruck. You probably don't need to go far from home, either. Pick up a pack, throw some books or dusty dumbbells in it, and start walking. Because rucking requires little equipment and you can do it anywhere, it's easy to stick with. Remember, consistency is a key to weight loss. Rucking makes consistency easy. Here is everything you need to start rucking:
  1. A rucksack: start with whatever backpack you might have lying around. Once you've broken that bag in and feel like extending your rucks, you might upgrade to something more sturdy and comfortable. We've got the best rucksacks in the world, when that time comes.
  2. Some weight: start with 10% of your bodyweight. Even if that feels light, it'll allow your body to adapt to your new favorite weight loss workout: rucking. You might use dumbbells, books, bricks wrapped in a towel, or Ruck Plates®. It’s that easy. We didn’t always have the perfect rucking gear, and we still got started. If weight loss is your goal, you should get started too.
  3. Our beginner's guide to rucking: everything you need to know about getting started. We've been doing it a long time (with amazing results), and we've got some tips to share with beginners.

5. Rucking Improves Your Sleep

Sleep is popularly known as a big factor in weight loss. Poor sleep is like poor nutrition: they both stress your body and lead to poor mental and physical performance. Poor sleep can also lead to poor nutrition! Many people make poor eating choices when they're stressed, tired, or anxious. We always ruck outside, in the sunshine and fresh air. Exposure to natural sunlight while exercising--and breathing fresh air--will improve your sleep quality later on. Even a nighttime ruck will prime your body for sleep: as your body temperature lowers after exercise, your mind enters a restful state and prepares for sleep. Quality sleep isn't just about feeling fresh in the morning. It's a major ingredient when building a quality life. And for some, a quality life starts with losing weight.

6. Rucking Fosters Accountability

Weight loss is hard, but it's a worthwhile goal. When we take on hard goals, it helps to have a community surrounding us. It's rare to meet a rucker who doesn't have a couple rucking buddies. They're easy to find at GORUCK Clubs, Events, and in Tribe 'n Training. When we hang out with people who share our values, we get excited about the challenges ahead. That's what rucking is all about: excitement about the challenges ahead. If you're rucking for weight loss, you won't be on the journey alone.

Green Berets use the Ruck March as a pillar of training and all United States Army infantry recruits must complete hours-long ruck marches. Rucking has been a military fitness staple for decades.

Weight Loss and Rucking: Progress is Key

Like any goal, you need to track your weight loss and rucking progress. Make a spreadsheet or use a notebook to document your starting rucking time, distance, and the weight in your rucksack. Write your starting bodyweight there, too. Over time, you'll see the distance, time, and rucksack weight increase, while watching your body transform. Start with one or two rucks per week with 10-20% of your bodyweight on your back. Do just 1 or 2 miles your first few rucks, maintaining good posture and taking breaks when needed. Don't add more than 10% to your rucksack weight or distance/time per week. In other words, take your time. When you're feeling more confident walking with weight, you might add some PT/sandbag workouts to your routine, while wearing your rucksack. Lunges, pushups, and overhead presses can all increase your calorie burn, and make rucking sessions more fun. Here are some progress tips for those new to weight loss:
  1. You'll lose the most weight at the beginning of your journey.
  2. As your weight loss naturally slows down, you might be tempted to try something new. Remember: consistency is key! It's normal for weight loss to slow down. Stay on your path, because weight loss is about good habits and a lifestyle shift, not changing your approach at every setback or slowdown.
  3. Muscle weighs more than fat, and rucking builds muscle. As rucking becomes a bigger part of your life, your body will look more toned and stronger. This might slow down your weight loss. However, because rucking is a cardio workout, it's unlikely to make you gain big muscles and more weight. Many people who have been rucking for years are lean and strong.
  4. What's on your plate matters. Don't discount nutrition because you're exercising more. Weight loss is all about your calories out being greater than your calories in. While rucking burns tons of calories, you can't outruck a nightly habit of cookies and ice cream.
  5. Don't forget to challenge yourself. Rucking builds confidence, and confidence leads us to try hard things. Embrace this mentality shift. Incorporate tough rucking workouts, sign up for Murph, and hold yourself accountable with a community. Challenging workouts (or events, like The GORUCK Challenge) are plateau-busters. They keep our bodies wondering what might come next, and keep our minds eager for new experiences.

Rucking Testimonials

"I didn't start rucking until I was in my late 40s and desperately needed to change my lifestyle. I was obese, and presenting a host of related medical problems. The simpleness of rucking appealed to me. Throw on a ruck and walk. This may sound cliché, but rucking saved my life. I was late 40s, somewhere north of 340 pounds, pre-diabetic, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and all the rest. Through cycling and GORUCK, I lost the weight, built-up strength, and finished my first Tough at 51. I lost almost 150 pounds, and am in the best shape of my life. All my medical problems vanished. My doctor says I’m healthier than he’s ever seen me in 20 years." - Steve Ries
"I ruck to heal my heart. Shortly after turning 40 l woke up one morning with chest pains and one ER visit later I end up with three stents in my chest. I was never an athlete and lived a decidedly unhealthy lifestyle, but rucking has helped me change all of that. I tried running but was never really able to go too far. My cardiologist loves the changes and I am in better shape than I ever was." - Patrick M.
"Rucking has become a significant part of my life as I have successfully introduced it to my weight loss program. I have lost 80 lbs. and it's largely due to the rucking!" - J. Chapman