The Beginner's Guide to Rucking

The Beginner's Guide to Rucking

Rucking is effective, accessible, and requires little equipment. That means you can start right now, change your body & improve your mental health, and make real progress early on.

Refreshing, isn't it?

Rucking is a simple exercise with an easy philosophy (we’ll get to that soon), and we have only a few details to share that'll set you up for success.

It’s a physical, mental, and social workout. It embraces the outdoors, sweat, and community. While incredibly simple, it is purposeful and effective. Humans need well-rounded wellness, and rucking delivers.

Rucking is Physical

Your body will adapt to the rigors of sweat, sunshine (and sometimes rain), and effort. It’s common for a beginner’s body to change a lot in the first 6 to 8 weeks of ruck training.

Rucking is Mental

It takes grit to put your pack on and get outside. Rucking isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be rewarding. Each time you take your ruck for a walk, you acknowledge room for improvement in your own life. That’s a big deal.

Rucking is Social

Rucking gives you the opportunity to connect to a community of people who want the best for each other. There isn’t any other way to word it. When a group of men and women come together to get fit and move toward goals, everyone wins. Grab your ruck, join a club, and reap the benefits.

Let’s get started.

Exactly what is rucking?

Rucking is the act of walking with weight on your back. It’s a low impact exercise based on military training workouts that improves cardio, strength, endurance, and character. And those things are important.

Why should I get into rucking?

Why should I start rucking? We’ll let our customers and ruck clubs answer that. Here are 7 reasons to ruck, from men and women--beginners and veterans--all over the world:

7 Reasons to Ruck

  1. In a world full of fancy equipment, fads, and too many influencers with too many opinions, rucking is simple and effective. Period.
  2. It gets you outside: mental health sees massive improvements when we spend time outdoors. In a digital, busy world, we should all prioritize mental health.
  3. Rucking builds muscle and strength while improving cardio and endurance (big return on investment).
  4. Rucking can triple your calorie burn compared to walking.
  5. It strengthens your back and improves posture.
  6. It’s scalable: no matter who you’re rucking with, you can adjust the weight to keep up.
  7. Rucking promotes accountability and community support: it’s become a popular social activity, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

You in?

Here’s what you need to get started (hint: it’s not much).

Rucking for Beginners: Gear & Accessories

What does a beginner need to start rucking? Not much. What you will need is a rucksack and some weight.

  1. A rucksack: this one is obvious. You need a bag to carry the weight. Start with what you have, most any backpack will do. Once you have some miles under your belt, you might look for something more secure, comfortable, and sturdy. You don’t want a bag that rubs your shoulders or back, or sags under weight. The best rucksack for beginners is the Rucker®. It holds a 20LB or 30LB Standard Ruck Plate® with enough room to add sandbags as you get stronger. With four handles and places to attach a hip belt for longer distances, it’s as sleek as it gets with the functionality to be the last training rucksack you’ll need.
  2. Some weight: depending on your beginning fitness level, you might start with 10-20LB. Get a feel for moving with a weighted rucksack before increasing from there. Start with dumbbells, books, or bricks wrapped in a towel. It’s that easy. GORUCK Ruck Plates® are compact and fit seamlessly in our bags for superior stability, but you don’t need one to get started. We didn’t always have the perfect gear, and we still got started. We want you to get started, too.

Carrying weight on your back is a function of modern life (bookbags at school, carry-on bags at the airport, hiking packs), GORUCK rucksacks and plates bring ultimate durability and security to this functional training exercise.

Here are a few other pieces of gear beginners may like:

    1. Performance socks: wearing the right socks means your feet and toes won’t blister. That sounds good, right? Check out our rucking socks here.
    2. Apparel that thermoregulates and keeps you dry. Think lightweight, breathable, synthetic materials. No matter the distance, time, or elements, GORUCK makes men’s and women’s apparel built for functional fitness & outdoor movement. Use what you’ve already got or check out our gear built just for rucking.
    3. Good rucking boots don’t need to be broken in, they give support to your ankles, knees, hips, and back for weighted walking, and keep your feet heathy and strong.
    4. Hip belts, sternum straps, hydration bladders, and durable water bottles aren’t necessary for your first few weeks rucking, but as you increase time and distance, you’ll benefit from having them handy. Shop rucking accessories here.
    5. A ruck patch: alright, this one just makes sure you’re following our Rule #1: Always Look Cool. Customize your ruck and add some personality to your training gear with your favorite patch.
    6. A GPS watch: if you’re a runner or cyclist, you might already have one of these. If not, there are plenty of apps to track your pace, distance, and time. Keeping track of fitness metrics is a good way to watch your progress and establish good habits.

I’ve got the gear. What’s next?

You’ve got a rucksack, some weight, and a patch that makes your new ruck club friends jealous. The great thing about rucking is you don’t have to wait around to get out there and get your heartrate up. It’s an exercise that, like most others, needs some progression and build-up, but with just a loaded pack you're ready to begin.

Start with one to two miles, one or two times per week. Three to four rucks per week is in your future, but take it slow. You’ll notice sore muscles (that’s a good thing), a clear mind (an immediate side effect of sweat and sunshine), and excitement for your next workout.

Build up gradually. Like running and lifting weights, increasing volume or intensity too quickly can lead to aches and pains. We recommend increasing your volume (time or distance) by no more than 10% each week while maintaining between a 15 and 20 minutes per mile pace. If your pace is consistently higher than 20 minutes per mile, you may want to lighten your load.

Adding five pounds to your rucksack per week is a good way to start, but don’t get discouraged if you need to take it slower or stay at the same weight for awhile. Working up to 1/3 of your bodyweight is a great long term goal, and one we don’t recommend exceeding.

Listen to your body, watch it get stronger, and keep your eyes on whatever goals you’re currently excited about.

When you’re ready for daily workouts, accountability, and to become a part of the greater GORUCK community, you might join Tribe ‘N Training (click here to read about it).

Rucking for Beginners: Don’t Overthink It

Rucking is a simple, practical, functional exercise that you can do anywhere. You don’t need to start with gear designed specifically for rucking. Start with the gym socks you wear every day, the backpack you take to school or work, and the dumbbells you’ve already got.

That’s all you need.

Remember, rucking is just walking with weight on your back.

It’s good for your muscles, heart, and lungs. You’ll make friends and develop mental toughness. You’ll learn something about yourself and spend more time outdoors.

As your legs, back, and core get stronger, as you get lean and your posture improves, you might invest in more durable, sturdy gear designed just for rucking. We’ve got you covered there. For now, just start. You’ll be glad you did.

Our Simple Rucking Philosophy

Rucking culture is all about leading from the front, inspiring community strength, and looking cool. We believe humans are better than hardware, outside is better than inside, and together is better than alone.

That’s why we ruck.

That's our philosophy.

It’s what every rucking beginner needs to know, and it’s why you’re going to love this lifestyle.

Find a bag, add some weight, and get out there.