What is rucking?
It’s a fitness trend that’s been hiding in plain sight this whole time.
Rucking is great for people bored of fitness walking and who don’t (or can’t) run. The resistance you get when you add weight brings your heart rate up without the pounding impact on your joints. The core strength you gain from rucking decreases generalized low back pain, which can benefit a lot of people who sit at desks all day.
Rucking is walking with a weighted backpack, mostly in an urban setting, but it’s also great for hikers who’re looking to build up their long-distance endurance with lower weights. Virtually every American kid rucked for at least 12 years with their bookbag, day in and day out. You’re a rucker and you didn’t even know it!
How do I get started?
1. How fit are you?
Almost everyone has some idea about how fit they are. If you’ve been fitness walking, hiking, or running for a while, you know how far and fast you generally go. If you’re brand new to any exercise, or you’re just coming back from an illness or injury, you’ll want to start slower, with a shorter distance and pace. Rucking is the perfect long, slow endurance training most people need for a healthier heart and a bigger endurance engine.
2. Get a backpack, and decide how much weight you want to add
Start with what you’ve got! While we love GORUCK bags, if you’re not ready to invest, any backpack will do. You’ll want to make sure it fits comfortably and snugly, without pinching your arms or shoulders. You want your ruck to ride a little high for the best weight distribution. You can weight your ruck with whatever you want to at first – water bottles, books, bricks, you name it. Whatever you’ve got that makes sense with your fitness level.
Read our post on good rucking posture for some tips on making the most of your ruck.
3. Find a route you want to travel
If you’re a seasoned walker, hiker, or runner, you may know exactly which trail or route you want to take. Around the block is a pretty popular option! If you’re just getting started, you’ll want to pick a route that’s safe and well-lit, and a safe distance from a highway.
4. Get started & stay away from cotton!
Grab your water bottle and head out! Depending on how far you’re going, you may want to bring a little snack (a banana and almonds are always a winner). Make sure your shoes and socks are comfortable and fit well. Running shoes are fine when you’re getting started. Stay away from cotton shirts when you’re rucking though. They can get uncomfortable quickly and chafe across your lower back if you wind up sweating a lot.
5. Stay consistent
Rucking, as with every other sport out there, is best when it’s done consistently. Go out two or three times a week and get some miles in, some fresh air, and enjoy it! Our PATHFINDER Training Plans are great to encourage consistency, with supportive mentors and other ruckers training right alongside you! Our 12-week training programs begin each February 01, May 01, August 01 and October 01.
Check out PATHFINDER Ruck Training Programs.
PATHFINDER Life is perfect for ruckers just starting.
PATHFINDER Forward is great for exercisers who already fitness walk or run frequently.