An Introduction to Rucking

Outdoor Adventure Programmer

Travis Campbell at Clear Creek Metro Park, wearing a Zelus 35lb rucking vest.

Walking on Challenge Mode

A blend of cardio and strength training, the activity of rucking is quickly gaining popularity within the fitness community. But what is rucking exactly? Rucking originated in the military, where carrying large amounts of weight across great distances is a necessity. Simply put, rucking is walking with a weighted pack or rucksack.

Getting Started

All you will need to start rucking is a backpack and weight. Your backpack should have a chest strap and a waist strap to help support the additional weight and to keep it closer to your body. It is recommended that you use a pack with wider shoulder straps to help disperse the weight and cause less discomfort to your shoulders. While rucking-specific gear does exist and can provide certain benefits, it is not mandatory to perform the activity. Weighted vests are an alternative option to rucksacks, but they can carry a hefty price tag. Rucking plates are convenient and will fit into most backpacks, but they too can be expensive. Other weights can be used, such as a dumbbell or a kettlebell. Bricks, rocks, or even milk jugs filled with water are popular alternatives to traditional weights. Try to evenly distribute the weight and keep any heavier weights close to your body.

How much weight should you use?

Starting out, try to ruck with approximately 10% to 15% of your body weight. Gradually, as you condition your body, increase the weight. You should max out at approximately 30% of your overall bodyweight.

Visitors on the trail at Glacier Ridge Metro Park for an Outdoor Adventure rucking program.

Benefits of Rucking

Why should you give rucking a try? Rucking can be done practically anywhere you can walk. Your favorite hiking trail can also be your favorite rucking trail. Rucking is low impact on your joints and can strengthen muscles and tendons throughout your legs and hips. Over time, rucking can strengthen your balance and increase your running speed. The additional weight will cause you to burn more calories than a traditional walk, and even more so as you increase weight and/or distance. Load bearing activities such as rucking have been shown to even strengthen your bones over time.

With a low entry cost, every trail as your potential training ground, and its numerous health benefits, rucking is a fantastic activity for beginners and seasoned adventurers alike. Metro Parks’ Outdoor Adventure even offers Intro to Rucking programs, so come on out and give it a go!

See you outdoors!

One thought on “An Introduction to Rucking

  1. Rucked in the Marines many moons ago. Getting back into it now for fun and fitness. Thanks for posting this article. We love our parks and the people who serve our park system!

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