Last Updated: June 30, 2022

The Top 10 Benefits Of Rucking

Thinking about taking up rucking but you’re not even sure what it actually is, let alone if it’s good for you? Then you’re certainly in the right place because this detailed guide will tell you all about rucking and its various benefits!

Why is it good for you, how is it different from walking, and what do you need to get started are just a few of the questions about rucking that we’ve answered in this detailed guide. Read on to learn more about the benefits of rucking, and see why it’s the perfect cardiovascular exercise for those who despise cardio!

What Is Rucking?

Rucking Outdoors

Rucking – or ruck marching – is walking with a heavy backpack. If you’ve walked around the city with a heavy pack, you already have some experience at urban rucking. It’s pretty much the same thing as hiking, and the key difference is the weight of the backpack.

Whereas hikers will try to keep their bags as light as possible to make the hikes easier, rucking usually means adding extra weight plates to the rucksack to make it even heavier. The heavier the load the more effective the rucking workout, and the greater cardio benefits you reap.

Rucking is not just a great cardio workout – it will also make you stronger and help you build muscle. It’s a great full-body workout if done properly and it’s been an essential part of military training for ages.

What Are The Benefits Of Rucking?

Rucking Benefits

We’ve established what constitutes rucking and now it’s time to move on to the top ten benefits of ruck marching!

It’s A Good Cardio Workout

Rucking is an excellent cardiovascular exercise. It elevates your heart rate more than walking and hiking can, so it’s inherently a better cardio workout. The reason why rucking gets your heart rate higher is that you’re doing it with a heavier load, so you’re using more energy to do the same thing.

So, if you’re the kind of person that despises cardio and can’t even imagine going jogging, rucking might be the ideal cardio workout for you. After all, it’s just walking around with a heavy backpack – something you’ve probably mastered already while you went to school.

The health benefits of rucking can be reaped anywhere, so don’t feel like you’re not able to go rucking just because you live in a big city. Walking around city streets with a heavy backpack is known as urban rucking, and it’s just as good for your heart as rucking in nature.

It’s Great For Building Muscle

If you already have some experience at the gym, you already know that weighted workouts are the best for losing fat and building muscle. Rucking is a great workout for building muscle, and it’s much more effective than any workout that is done only using body weight. The workout engages different muscle groups in your body, and it’s particularly great for building leg muscles.

The effectiveness of rucking, or how fast you’re going to build muscle largely depends on how much weight you’re carrying in your backpack when rucking. Build muscle faster by adding more weight to the backpack, but don’t overpack the bag. If you add too much weight to the backpack, you will likely be sore, and it will take a while to recover and return to rucking.

It’s recommended that rucking beginners start by adding 10% of their body weight to their ruckpack. So, if you’re a man who weighs 200 pounds, about 20 lbs is the ideal carrying weight for your first rucking workout. You can increase the weight incrementally by some 5 lbs after every few workouts until you’re able to carry a 50lb backpack without being sore for the next week.

It Makes You Stronger

This goes hand in hand with the previous reason, but rucking will make you stronger. You might not feel stronger after the first or second session, but stick with rucking for a couple of months and you will notice a big difference in your strength.

You’ll be able to tell by the weight of your backpack – the moment you start feeling like your bag is too light and you need to add weights, you’ve already gotten stronger.

Rucking Gets You Outside

Rucking Nature

One of the main benefits of rucking is that it gets you outside, so it’s already better for your mental health than any kind of workout you can do at home.

There are countless studies online that prove that people who spend more time outside, particularly in green spaces, struggle less with their mental health. Being outside makes people happier, more relaxed, and it’s just generally really good for your body and mind. It’s also a great way to get your daily dose of vitamin D, and it’s the perfect workout for people who want to spend more time outside their homes.

It’s Better For You Than Running

By better, I mean it’s less stressful on the body, especially for beginners. Running comes with its fair share of injuries, and it’s particularly stressful on the knees. Rucking is less stressful on your body, and it’s much more difficult to sustain an injury while rucking. It’s not impossible, but it doesn’t happen as often.

The main reason people sustain injuries when rucking is due to bad posture. The same can’t be said for running – people hurt themselves left and right when running and there are even categories of injuries that are common among runners.

Also, running is a fast workout and it can become addictive for some people. It’s all fun and games at the beginning, but if you’re a competitive person, it won’t be long before you start trying to outperform yourself from session to session. Rucking is much more time-consuming, and it’s generally not as pleasurable as running, so it’s a lot less addictive.

It Improves Your Posture

Rucking Posture

If you’re anything like me and you’re constantly suffering from poor posture due to spending too many hours in a day in front of a computer screen, rucking might just get you in line. It won’t immediately help you sit straight, but you should see an improvement in your posture after a few months of rucking.

When you’re walking with a 20-30lb backpack on your shoulders, you have to straighten your back. It’s much more painful to ruck with a bad posture, so you’re inclined to straighten up subconsciously. Also, if you’re rucking with heavier loads, you will likely do it with a backpack that has a sternum strap and a hip belt, which make that heavy load much more bearable.

Those straps go a long way towards improving your posture when rucking, and if you do it often enough, you will see an improvement even when you’re not wearing a 30-lb backpack.

It Burns More Calories Than Walking

Rucking is a more vigorous workout than walking and even hiking, so it’s not surprising that it burns more calories. Rucking is a more efficient workout for weight loss, and you can increase the intensity of the exercise over time by adding more weight to your backpack.

Rucking engages your upper body and your lower body, so it’s much more effective than just walking or running. It’s an excellent form of cardiovascular fitness, and it’s a great workout for those who are trying to live a long and healthy life but despise the traditional forms of cardio exercise.

You Can Do It Everywhere

Rucking Anywhere

This is probably the best thing about rucking – you can do it absolutely anywhere. You can put on a 20lb backpack and ruck march around your living room if you want. It won’t be as interesting as rucking in a national park, but the benefits are pretty much the same.

When I say everywhere, I truly mean it. You can ruck on your way to work, you can do it while you’re on vacation, or at a campsite. Wherever you are in the world, there’s nothing stopping you from adding weight to a backpack, putting it on your shoulders, and starting walking.

It’s Free

Just like walking and running, rucking is a free exercise that anyone can do anywhere. Sure, you need some basic gear to get you started, but you can make use of what you already have at home.

There’s no need to spend any money beforehand, and you certainly don’t need to enroll in a gym. If you end up liking rucking a lot, you will need to buy better gear eventually. But that’s only to make the workouts more efficient and easier on the body – you can start rucking with the basics, and then just upgrade as you get more comfortable doing it.

It’s A Good Way To Make Friends

Rucking Group

Just like running and hiking, rucking is a great way of meeting new people and making friends. You will likely encounter other people doing the same thing during your rucking sessions, and you can even join ruck groups and attend rucking events with other people.

There are rucking groups just like there are hiking groups, and joining one is great if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to do things alone.

On the other hand, rucking can be done on your own, which is a major benefit for introverts and other people who would rather not socialize with strangers if they don’t have to.

How To Get Started With Rucking?

It’s really easy – pick up a backpack, fill it up to a weight you can bear, put it on, and go outside. Getting started with rucking is that easy, and that’s one of the many things that’s so great about this form of resistance training.

You don’t need any fancy gear or expensive equipment to get started with rucking. You can do it in any outfit you want, wearing any kind of shoes you want, and with any backpack you own. Naturally, the gear you already have likely isn’t the perfect solution for rucking, but you can start to upgrade your gear only if you decide you like the rucking exercise and you want to make it a bit easier on yourself.

Most people will eventually invest in good rucking boots and a decent rucking backpack. Sturdy boots are important if you want to go rucking in nature since you can’t really take on outdoor terrain wearing your average sneakers for the city.

Rucking backpacks have similar features to hiking backpacks, but they’re generally a bit sturdier. They’re usually military-grade rucksacks with detachable pouches and dedicated pockets for ruck weights. However, it’s worth noting that any backpack can be a rucking backpack, as long as it’s comfortable and doesn’t cause you pain even during long workouts.

Rucking vs Running


Rucking and running are two very different exercises. They’re both great for the cardiovascular system, but one is a fast-paced exercise that burns a lot of calories, while the other is a much slower-paced workout that builds muscle and strength.

Running is better for weight loss, and it’s definitely the better exercise for people who don’t have a lot of free time. It’s a great workout if you don’t care too much about building muscle and strength, and you just want something to improve your fitness level and keep you healthy.

However, running is more difficult to get into. It’s more challenging for total newbies, especially those who aren’t very fit. You likely won’t be able to run for more than 15 minutes the first time you try, and it will take months of practice before you’re able to do quick mile runs in the morning. The slow progress discourages many people, and a lot will just give up running after the first couple of sessions.

Rucking is much more beginner-friendly. It’s also less stressful on the body than running, it requires zero fancy equipment, and it’s harder to hurt yourself while rucking than while running. Rucking is also a great cardiovascular exercise, but it’s also good for building both muscle and strength. It’s also more time-consuming than running – rucking sessions last at least a couple of hours, and the true pros are doing it for the better part of a day.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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