How Rucking Could Change Your Fitness

Rucking: Walking or hiking a set distance while carrying a weight in a backpack. Rucking (also known as ruck marching) comes from from the word “ruck sack,” which is a durable backpack meant for carrying equipment.

Rucking has become more and more popular in the fitness community over the past decade or so — nothing is quite as functional as carrying a load while you travel. You may be wondering just how "rucking" will improve your fitness, what are the benefits, and why you would want to get started.

In the Street Parking community, we have a handful of members who ruck regularly and love it, which is why we collaborated with our friends at GORUCK to create an entire Extra Program specifically for rucking.

What is "rucking"?

Rucking is simply heading out for a walk with weight on your back.

Yes, it's that simple!

Generally speaking, a ruck itself would be intentionally adding weight to a pack and going for a walk; however, it's also a natural occurrence in our daily lives. Whether carrying groceries in from the car or walking around a theme park with kids on our backs, we are "rucking" in some form almost daily.

And though it's mechanics are simple, let's not underestimate the many unique benefits of rucking.

These benefits include:

  1. Lower impact on joints.
    Rucking has less impact on our joints, making it possible and friendly to almost anyone. Whether getting back into shape or recovering from an injury, rucking will be a safe way to ease yourself back into movement.
  1. Increased strength and endurance.
    Having weight on your back and walking has a fantastic ability to increase core strength, and when we say "core," we are referring to all the muscles in our midline from inner core muscles to outer core muscles. The core has two main functions: 1) to stabilize and protect our spine and 2) to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body and vice versa. A solid and stable core is essential to maintaining and improving the quality of our life, especially as we age.
  1. It prepares you for the demands of daily life.
    Carrying weight is a part of our daily life. Sometimes it’s for short distances and sometimes for longer, but we carry weight almost daily in some form and at some capacity. If we expose ourselves to rucking, we are making our daily lives much more manageable and also preparing ourselves for those days when we might need just a little more.
  1. Social benefit of doing it with others.
    Rucking can be done alone or with others; however, it's highly encouraged to be done with others, and for a good reason. Social fitness brings people together and removes barriers through shared adversity. This activity can foster better relationships and stronger communities.
  1. It brings us outdoors.
    Whether walking your neighborhood or a mountain trail, rucking gets you outside. You can ruck inside, however, it's highly encouraged to be done outside while exploring the great outdoors and everything this world has to offer. Getting outside is one of the most underrated basic human needs we all have. Sweat, fresh air, and hopefully sunshine can rejuvenate our souls in a way that almost nothing else can!
  1. Rucking requires minimal equipment.
    One of the most incredible benefits of rucking is that it requires minimal equipment. You don't need a fancy gym or equipment to get started, just a simple backpack with weight. And although there are special backpacks and weights specifically designed for rucking, you can start today with what you have, even if that is a 10-year-old backpack and a couple of water bottles inside. It really can be that simple.

What is the intention of rucking?

Now you might wonder, "What is the intention of rucking?"

"What is the aim or plan?”

The intention of rucking effortlessly coincides with the many benefits we mentioned above, but the primary purpose is to MOVE! Simply put — get a weighted pack of any sort and start walking!

Here are some specific intentions on why you might consider adding rucking into your exercise routine.

Intention #1:

  • To slow down and move at a lower intensity. Rucking is a great option to ease yourself back into fitness while recovering from injuries or sickness, a long hiatus from working out, or a change from your regular high-intensity training (whether that be for mental space or more specific health reasons). Although rucking will bring lots of positive benefits to your fitness, such as building strength and endurance, it's also done at a lower intensity which makes it a great option for times in life when you need exercise to not be overly rigorous. 

Intention #2:

  • To get outside and use your fitness. You may have been wanting to spend more time outside because of how it makes you feel — rejuvenated and alive. As we stated earlier, being outside is one of the most overlooked basic human needs that significantly contributes to our overall health and well-being. Anything that will bring you to the great outdoors is worth doing almost always!

Intention #3:

  • To socialize. Since rucking is encouraged to be done with others, it's a great way to build and maintain relationships. Whether you've just moved to a new city or are looking for a social outlet, look no further! Rucking is one of the best ways to surround yourself with like-minded people.

Intention #4:

  • Its inclusivity. Rucking is something that almost anyone can do. If you're personally looking to become more active or if you're trying to pull family members and friends into becoming more active, Rucking is a great place to start. The inclusivity of Rucking is hard to beat. It's simple and friendly to almost anyone.

Practical Tips For Rucking:

Once you're ready to get started you’ll want to make sure you're on the right path for success, so don’t forget to look over these tips and use them as a guideline while approaching your rucking sessions.

Rucking Tip #1:

  • Get yourself a ruck pack. Any ruck pack or a backpack you can add weight to will do the job. There is no need to stress about getting a specific "ruck" pack — it will be most important that you get started with what you have. And with that being said, if walking itself is going to be challenging for you, then focus on just that with the goal to eventually add weight.

Rucking Tip #2:

  • Add weight to your pack. We recommend starting light and building in weight as you feel comfortable. A great place to start is 10-20 pounds. Add more weight as you become consistent and if the weight continues to be manageable. Small increments of 5-10 pounds at a time will be best!

Rucking Tip #3:

  • Start walking. We recommend starting with a moderate pace and distance if you're new to rucking. This will be highly dependent on your current activity level, so be realistic with where you’re at and start there. For example, if you have yet to walk 1 mile for a bit, start with just walking 1 mile. As you become more comfortable, increase your pace and distance. This doesn't need to be a fast walk, but it should feel sustainable from start to finish.

Rucking Tip #4:

  • Place your ruck pack higher on your back versus lower. This is ideal positioning, but again you can make do with what you have. As you walk, focus on having tall posture, keeping your core engaged and shoulders pulled back. We want to avoid slouching forward, putting unnecessary pressure on our lower back.

Rucking Tip #5:

  • Stay consistent. Just like anything in life, there must be an element of consistency in order to reap the benefits. If you want to become more active, you must be consistent with moving. If you want to build relationships, you must be consistent in how you show up for those relationships, etc. Consistency, as you know, is almost always the name of the game.

How to get involved in a GORUCK Club?

There are people all around the world getting together and going for rucks.

This is hands down one of the best ways for you to build community, create lifelong relationships, and surround yourself with people who will lift you up in the right way.

GORUCK is one of our amazing Street Parking partners, and we would encourage anyone who is interested in rucking to use them as a resource.

GORUCK has what is called a GORUCK Club where in all parts of the world people are getting together and forming rucking communities. The members of these clubs get together regularly to push themselves and build camaraderie as a team. 

GORUCK Clubs are the heart and soul of the GORUCK Nation.

To learn more about getting involved with a GORUCK Club, CLICK HERE.

The Sandlot app will be your best way to tap into this community, and to download the app, Click Here.