Rucking is the action of walking with weight on your back. Walking with a weighted rucksack (aka backpack) is a low impact exercise based on military training workouts.
Hiking is rucking in the mountains and urban hiking is simply called rucking. You've probably even spent time rucking - traveling, bringing books to school, or on your commute to work. Carrying weight is a necessary part of life, and as it turns out, humans are naturally good at it, too.
WHY YOU NEED TO START RUCKING
IT IS SIMPLE & ANyone can do it
It's extremely simple, and requires minimal gear. The goal is to move more and the solution is as simple as putting weight on your back and going for a walk.
GETS you outside
Being outside is a basic need we all have as human beings. With more than 75% of Americans failing to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines, the message is clear - we need to spend more time outside moving around and less time inside on a phone or computer screen.
Active Resistance training™
Rucking builds muscle and strength while improving cardio and endurance. Bringing both types of exercises together provides a fuller range of benefits to improve your health. You can burn up to 3x more calories than walking.
Burns up to 3x more calories than walking
While rucking, you’ll burn a lot more calories than walking, not quite as many as running but about the same as jogging or doing functional fitness. It depends greatly on the amount of weight you’re carrying, of course. Go faster with more weight and it’ll be a lot greater challenge. That means more calories.
Good for your back & IMPROVES POSTURE
The ruck pulls your shoulders back, which is how they should be with proper posture, even without a rucksack on. It’s uncomfortable to roll your shoulders forward while rucking, like we all do to hunch over a keyboard or when we look down — so you don’t do that.
social fitness aka good for your mental health
The best part about rucking is the people. Social fitness helps with accountability and support. Rucking allows you to grab some friends, get outdoors and move.
You can scale with weight, which allows you to ruck at the same pace as anyone else and challenge yourself with an outdoor workout.
How to Start Rucking
Getting started rucking is simple you just need 3 things:
1. Get a Rucksack aka backpack
Don’t overthink it, this is easy. Get yourself a pack.
If you are new to rucking, don't worry about which type of pack you use. There are rucksacks made specifically for rucking, but the important part is that you get started, so grab any backpack you can find laying around.
2. Add Weight
Now that you have your bag, you need to put some weight in it. We recommend Ruck Plates, specifically designed to fit GORUCK Rucksacks, but you can start with what you've got.
Grab a weight and wrap it in a towel for cushion, and put it in the bag. Anything will work as your weight - dumbbells, bricks, books, you can even fill the bag with potting soil, just add weight.
When in doubt, start with 10-20 pounds.
3. Just Walk
Put your pack on and start walking. It's that easy. Start at a comfortable pace and keep an upright posture. Over time, you can increase the weight, speed, and distance.
(Tip: start light and if your pack allows, keep the weight high and stable next to your back.)
PACE GOALS: 15 minutes/mile is a good goal in terms of your pace. If you're moving slower than 20 minutes/mile, consider reducing the weight. Start with 1-2 rucks per week to get the hang of it. If you're brand new, you'll probably have some muscle soreness. That's a good thing!
TRIBE & TRAINING
take your fitness to the next level
The next step, is to use your ruck for ruck workouts. A rucking workout brings together the cardio benefits from weighted walking with the muscle building benefits of ruck PT (Physical Training). The backpack can be a complete gym on your back, a true functional fitness workout.
"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 found GORUCK through the obstacle racing community on Facebook. Many OCR enthusiasts were also doing GORUCK events and I decided to check them out online. I was immediately drawn to the mental and physical challenge to completing them, so I signed up for a Light, then a Challenge (now Tough).
After losing about 100 pounds, I found that keeping them off was far more difficult. I learned that training and fueling for athletic goals was much more fun and motivating than just dieting and exercising. Rucking is something that appealed to me because it’s more about endurance than athleticism. It’s also great for building core strength and bone density, both helpful in my 50s and beyond. Last but definitely not least, it’s something I can do with my active friends."
- Jamie Gold
As a busy dad, my time with my kids is very important to me! After reading about GORUCK and signing up for an event, the training began. I didn't want to lose my precious time with the kids so they also started to train! As you can imagine, it has been awesome! My kids and I are all in! We ruck every chance we get and have enjoyed every mile we've put in. I roll with my 50# ruck, my 9 year old daughter with her 10# ruck and my 7 year old with 5#. My kids are ready to ruck!
"I ruck to heal my heart. Shortly after turning 40 I 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."
"I started rucking because I wanted to strengthen my body, but found that I was also strengthening my mind. I still ruck to stay in shape, but it also helps me to clear my mind of bad distractions and focus on my goals. I can't get enough!"Stephanie M.
"As a mom it is great to get a more intense workout on while walking to the park. Without a doubt pushing me and seeing increased definition in my lower body and total body fat percentage."
- J. Chapman
"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!"Los Angeles, CA
Start with 1-2 rucks per week, depending on your current fitness activity level, and work up to 3-4 rucks per week max.Generally speaking, we do not advise rucking every day. Give your body time to recover after rucking.
Go at your own pace, you can ruck however fast or slow you'd like. If you'd like to set benchmark goals and you're just getting started with rucking, aim for 17-20 minutes per mile.
The Army minimum standard is 15 minutes per mile, which is a great goal pace to meet (or exceed) over time as you progress in rucking.
Start with 10 - 25 pounds, depending on your current fitness activity level and bodyweight. When in doubt, aim for lighter weight and longer distance on your first few rucks. If you can't maintain good posture for the entire ruck, lower the weight and build up over time.
Work your way up in increments of 5 pounds each week, or as you see fit. Listen to your body, stretch, hydrate, and adjust as necessary.
A good rule of thumb is to not carry more than ⅓ of your bodyweight.
In 1950, Colonel S.L.A. Marshall published a book called The Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation, which is still widely regarded as the reference of choice on the matter. In this book, Marshall details at great length how and why soldiers are required to carry too much weight, which was as relevant then as it is to today’s combat loads in excess of 100 lbs.
Marshall contends that based on past studies on the loads carried by armies throughout history, the soldier should be limited to ⅓ of his bodyweight.
In our experience, we've found the ⅓ rule to be true, and a great goal to work up to over time, and not exceed. Remember, if you need a bigger challenge you can always increase speed and distance rucked, too.
If you do need to go above ⅓ of your bodyweight, such as for military training or backcountry hunting, make sure you’re ready for it and that you progress safely.
The military ruck march, otherwise known as a loaded march or forced foot march, is part of army training for different militaries all over the world. The ruck march is one course in a series of tests under U.S. Army regulations in order to earn the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB).
The EIB is a special skills badge awarded to recognize Infantrymen who have demonstrated a mastery of critical tasks, including the ruck march, physical fitness assessment, land navigation, weapons navigation, and other individual tasks.
The ruck march requires the candidate to complete a 12-mile march within 3 hours while carrying a rifle and 35 lb minimum load that add up to the Army ruck weight standards, for a total of up to 70 lbs.
Absolutely, rucking builds muscle in your back (traps, lats), core / abs, legs (quads, hamstrings, calves), glutes, and stabilizer muscles groups.
When paired with a Ruck PT workout, rucking becomes the ultimate full body exercise.
Yes, rucking is one of the safest and most efficient ways to burn calories and lose weight.
Also known as Active Resistance Training (ART), which is part active cardio and part strength training, rucking will burn significantly more calories than walking. With the added benefits of permanent metabolic gains from stronger muscles at a fraction of the cost to your knees, and plenty of benefit to your heart.
Check out the Rucking Calorie Calculator to get an estimate of calories burned while rucking.