Rucking, an activity once reserved primarily for military training, has now found its way into mainstream fitness routines, and for good reason. If you are in the market for an effective and enjoyable fitness activity that seamlessly blends cardio and strength training, rucking is certainly worth exploring.
So, what exactly is rucking? Rucking is simply walking or hiking while carrying a weighted backpack. The additional weight, typically ranging from 10–50 pounds, turns an otherwise low-impact activity into a challenging full-body workout.
The first significant benefit of rucking is that it’s a highly efficient form of cardiovascular exercise. When you ruck, your heart rate increases due to the extra effort required to carry the weight, improving your cardiovascular health over time. A 2020 study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that rucking led to similar cardiovascular adaptations as traditional steady-state cardio, making it a fantastic alternative for those who find running or cycling monotonous.
Rucking also provides excellent strength training benefits. The additional weight you carry during a ruck requires your muscles to work harder than they would during a normal walk or hike, strengthening your core, shoulders, back, and legs in particular. Unlike isolated gym workouts, rucking engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing a more balanced and holistic strength-building experience.
For those interested in losing weight or maintaining a healthy body composition, rucking can serve as a potent tool. The increased caloric burn associated with carrying extra weight makes rucking a highly efficient activity for fat loss. Additionally, the muscle mass gained from this type of strength training aids in maintaining a higher resting metabolic rate, which in turn can help with long-term weight management.
Beyond physical health, rucking offers significant mental health benefits. Much like any form of exercise, rucking can help to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression by triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators. Moreover, the very nature of rucking encourages mindfulness. As you navigate uneven terrains with a weighted pack, you’re prompted to stay present and focused on your surroundings, an experience closely akin to a walking meditation.
One of the unsung benefits of rucking is its social aspect. Group rucking events are increasingly popular, enabling individuals to exercise together and bond over a shared challenge. These events provide a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, cultivate a sense of community, and improve your fitness level, all at the same time.
Rucking is highly accessible and adaptable. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned athlete, you can adjust the weight and distance to meet your fitness level and goals. All you need is a backpack, some weight, and a route to walk or hike on.
Rucking is more than just a military training method; it’s a comprehensive, adaptable, and enjoyable fitness activity with a host of physical and mental health benefits. Whether your goal is to improve your cardiovascular health, strength, body composition, mental wellbeing, or even your social life, rucking could be just the fitness routine you’re looking for.
Cleve Radbourne is a freelance health and wellness writer with a passion for unconventional fitness methodologies. He believes in pushing the boundaries of traditional workouts to achieve overall health and wellness.
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