Low impact, high returns, simple equipment- Rucking
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Sometimes the simplest exercise is the best. If you need to get in more cardio but don’t like running or biking, You can turn walking into your cardio workout by adding one simple thing: a backpack with weight.
It’s an ideal exercise for those who are intimidated by other exercise forms because they feel out of shape or self-conscious. Well, no one will look at you twice as you walk by. Rucking is stealth cardio at it’s finest.
Most of us already have everything we need to start rucking. All you need is a sturdy backpack and some weight to put in it.
Disclaimer: I’m not a fitness expert. Use this story as your entry point and stay safe. Talk to a personal trainer or medical professional if you need to.
Why is it Called Rucking?
Rucking is walking with a loaded backpack. Military forces traditionally had their soldiers wear a heavy rucksack to build endurance and toughness. It strengthens the muscles in the back, legs and core.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to go into basic training and ruck till you puke! You can start out at a low level of intensity and build up to heavier loads over time.
A good starting point is one-tenth of your body weight. If you weigh 200 lbs. you would start with 20 lbs. and add 5 a week.
It’s a Low Impact Option
Rucking burns almost as many calories as running does. But it has a big bonus that it’s more of a low impact exercise. Even if you’re worried about your joints, as long as you can still walk you can participate.
High impact exercise like running, cycling and HIIT workouts are too much for many of us. This could be due to being in poor shape. It might also be from a recent illness, age, or a large frame.
That’s where rucking could be right for you. If you can walk for any length of time, you can try carrying a bit of weight. Start small, with only a few pounds. Gradually increase your load over time. You can work your way up and increase your strength while giving your body some essential exercise.
Want to give rucking a try? Follow these two easy steps.
1. Get a Backpack and Some Weight
Chose a backpack that’s tough and stable. The shoulder straps need to fit well against your body. That doesn’t mean you need an expensive pack, though. You can start with whatever you have and get a better one later if you like the exercise.
You can check out Goruck for some heavy-duty rucksacks and plate carriers. This is the real deal, tough and durable.
“I’ll use any excuse to buy a new backpack.” — Michael Potts
Now you need weight. Find something heavy that doesn’t have an unusual shape. Anything pokey jab into your back while you hike. Here are a few things to try:
- soup cans (full)
- steel plates or gym plates
Use a folded sweater or small blanket to stabilize your weight and keep it from rattling around in there.
Another option is sandbags or steel plates from Goruck.com.
I use my $60 hiking backpack with a chest and waist strap. It has an internal frame to keep its shape. There are two mesh side pockets for quick access items and some zipper pockets, but the interior is one large section.
My backpack is already set up for rucking. It stays loaded because it’s my bug out bag as well as my hiking bag. Here’s what I keep in it for emergency evac. It also happens to be enough weight for rucking.
2. Go Outside and Walk
A great starting target is 2 miles. You can go fast or slow. But try to complete it in 40 minutes or less.
Are you sore? If you feel pretty good the next day, then you can up your weight a bit or walk a little farther.
“Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” — Steven Wright
Cross-country walking burns around 250 calories per hour. Rucking can nearly double that. That makes it an effective way to get in a good workout and raise that heart rate.
Regular walking is good for you too. But carrying the weight makes it count for more. It can effectively double the worth of a walk, in terms of exercise.
Meet Your Fitness Goals With a Rucking Training Plan
You can use rucking to supplement any other exercise with this simple plan. It doesn’t need to be complicated to get results.
Go rucking two times every week. Start with 5 lbs, or 10% of your bodyweight if you feel up to it. Add 5 pounds per week until you reach a maximum of 40 lbs.
Adjust according to your fitness level and body type, of course! A 100 lb person should NOT carry 40 lbs.
Increase your distance as well. Start out with one or two miles. Add a half a mile every week. When you can ruck five miles with 40 lbs, you’re in awesome shape. Good job!
Rucking is a Great Way to Prep For Hiking
If you like to hike, then rucking is a great way to prepare for carrying that backpack down a trail. This is why I started rucking.
I want to be able to carry my snacks, water and emergency gear on my back while hiking a wilderness trail. I also want to feel good when I get there. I don’t want to be so worn out I can’t enjoy myself because I’m not used to carrying weight!
Bonus points for any guy who carries his girl’s stuff. I carry everything for my wife as well as myself. I have her snacks, water and maybe her jacket or sweater, on top of my gear. Training with a heavier load beforehand means I am ready, willing and able to take her stuff too.
Rucking is a great option for upping the value of the simple walk:
- You can use cheap equipment you already own
- No need for a gym, just a sidewalk
- Low impact, so it’s easy on the knees etc.
- Gets you in shape for other activities, like hiking
What are you waiting for? Let’s ruck!