It could be in the early morning hours before sunrise or in the evening after dark. I may be wearing a tactical vest, a ruck, or a ruck plate carrier. I’m either walking at a very quick pace, moving with a purpose and attitude, definitely attitude, like I’m going to burst into a smokey dive bar and pick a fight kind of attitude. If not the brisk walk I’m doing a ruck shuffle, in which case they’re probably thinking that I have an injury and can’t run or that I need to watch a YouTube tutorial on how to run 101. Seriously people, I’m not crazy, (well maybe just a little, in a good way!) I’m RUCKING!
What exactly is this you’re asking. The word “ruck” itself is both a noun and a verb. The ruck is the backpack used to carry weight. The action of “rucking’ is a relatively fast march over distance carrying a load, a common military exercise as a form of training for soldiers. What’s shocking to me is how many people have never even heard of it, or if they have, they don’t realize the health benefits of rucking.
Walking for miles and hours with a weight on your back toughens the body and mind in a way that few other activities do. It burns 3x the calories of walking and is less stressful on the body than running. According to Jason McCarthy, founder and CEO of the GORUCK organization rucking will give you a “super medium” body type. If you have too much fat and muscle, it’ll lean you out and if you’re skinny you’ll get stronger and put on some muscle. I can totally attest to this! In June when I rucked 77 miles over the course of the month, I was shredded by the end of the 30 days! 😉
Rucking counts not only as a strength exercise, but also cardio (Bingo!!!). It elevates your heart rate compared to regular walking, but not like a CrossFit workout where your only thoughts are: am I going to die; maybe I should’ve scaled; and how many more rounds! It elevates it enough with that weight in your ruck that you’ll walk with a purpose, while still being able to talk and think. I like to set an intention for my day, or for the ruck if it’s a longer one. It’s also the perfect time to reflect on goals, listen to a podcast or catch up with a friend on the phone. Because you are moving at a conversational pace rucking is also a great way to socialize. A lot of towns have “ruck clubs” where you can gather and ruck with a group. Although I like having a friend or friends with me for longer rucks, I love my time alone on shorter distances. Lately I’ve been doing 2.5 miles every morning before sunrise. It’s the best start to the day and is considered fasted cardio!
Another benefit from rucking is that it improves posture, something that a lot of individuals need help with. I’m continuously keeping my core engaged, moving with a slight tilt forward and pushing through my glutes with each step. I like to carry my weight plate high in my ruck with the straps tight so it’s sitting higher on my back. The weight of the ruck actually pulls your shoulders and back into proper alignment and puts your body into the proper posture. The more you ruck, you are training your body to stay in that optimal position all day. No kidding, you will see improvements in your posture and you’ll be more aware when you’re not practicing good posture.
A novice rucker can usually start out carrying 5-15% of their bodyweight. It’s better to start out light and gradually increase and adjust after you put some miles in and get a feel for it. The best part is you control the intensity by how much weight you carry and your speed. Want to make it harder…increase the weight, your cadence and/or the distance. Changing up the terrain also adds an element to your training, like rucking on the beach or a gravel path for some more fun. 😉 I love that you can ruck anywhere and anytime and you can constantly challenge yourself!
What about the fact that you can jump into this activity without breaking the bank. There’s no gym membership, no fancy workout clothes, and no equipment necessary other than a ruck, weight and some decent shoes. Oh, and some good performance socks too! If you want a really durable, made in the USA, ruck, the Rucker 3.0 by GORUCK is awesome. They are seriously so well made and have the best features. Another option if you didn’t want the backpack is their Ruck Plate Carrier that is streamlined and holds just the plate, it’s terrific for doing weighted workouts as well. GORUCK also has Ruck Plates for both styles in various weights. Last, but not least, the footwear! The proper socks and shoes are so important when it comes to rucking. I have two favorite shoes. The first is the GORUCK MACV-1 boot. They are SO lightweight and comfortable, perfect for rucking, or just looking cool. 😉 (Check out the amazing story behind the boots on the link as well!) The second is by Topo Athletic. It’s a great shoe for rucking, hiking or trail running. As for the socks, my one and only are Lola Gams! They are a true performance sock made in the USA with moisture wicking properties and comfort in all the right places. Other than those items you’re good to go! (dog optional)
So whether rucking is your main form of fitness, used as training for endurance events or even recovery after a difficult workout, covering ground under load builds a strong foundation of fitness. Don’t overcomplicate it. Throw on some weight and get outside and go for a ruck! For now I’ll continue to be the weirdo in the neighborhood with my latest mission being educating people on this simple, yet incredible activity! #RUCKSTAR